"Sometimes, it’s what you can’t see that affects your business the most." - Morgen Henderson
Before the internet, businesses primarily operate out of storefronts. Making sure a shop was in a good location, easily accessible, and aesthetically pleasing decided whether a business flourished or failed.
No one wants to enter a dilapidated building 25 miles away from their home to make a purchase, especially if there is a better store is only a few blocks away. Customers can easily be driven away if your shop does not heed these key factors.
The same critical points that are attributed to the success of a brick and mortar shop also apply to your business’s website.
With more companies operating completely online, your website needs to have a solid infrastructure to compete and flourish. Making sure your website is easy to navigate, loads quickly and is appealing to the eye is the only way to find and retain new customers.
What is Site Infrastructure?
Blinded by the urge to fill a site with as much information and marketing content as possible, they forget to orchestrate a site flow that helps their customers find what they are looking for with as little effort as possible.
This flow is called site infrastructure and is the foundation of your marketing stack. Without a sound infrastructure, it will become very difficult to organize your digital marketing strategy and deploy it effectively.
If a site is cluttered, hard to navigate, or slow to load, customers may become deterred and leave your site. Here are some ways to better your site’s infrastructure to avoid driving your customers away.
1. Increase your Site’s Speed to Retain Viewers
We no longer use dial-up internet, so waiting several minutes for a site to load is not normal. Now, internet users want information delivered instantly.
A study conducted by Akamai found that 47% of people expect a web page to load in less than two seconds and 40% of people leave a website if loading time exceeds three seconds.
To keep your customers from leaving out of sheer frustration, it is important to make sure your site loads quickly.
i) Image Optimization
When an image has a large file size, it takes longer to load. Therefore, if the images on your site are smaller, they will take less time to load. “Smaller” image doesn’t actually mean that the image will be smaller visually, rather the amount of information that needs to be processed to show the image is less.
This can be achieved by compressing and resizing images, which you can easily do with a variety of tools (including Adobe Photoshop).
Images should also use the correct format. Photographs should normally use JPG and graphic image designs without backgrounds usually work best as PNG.
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can give users content in a quicker, more efficient way.
User requests are directed to the closest server, which delivers the content faster than if there were only one server in a further location.
iii) Reduce Plugins
While plugins can help your site overall, they can slow down your page if there are too many. Make sure you are only using the plugins you really need to and turn off any others.
2. Keep Your Web Pages Reliable
Nothing could be more devastating to your site’s credibility than a broken link or a site crash. If a customer cannot access pages on your site, they cannot find the information or product they are looking for. Make sure your customers can reach what they are looking for without running into problems.
i) Broken Links
A broken link will not only lose you a conversion but can also prevent users from returning to your site.
It is imperative to make sure all of your links operate correctly and get your customers to where they need to go. Check your links often to verify they all work and identify those that don’t so you can fix it.
ii) Site Crash
A site usually goes down from either too much traffic or just an error in backend coding. A few precautions you can take are using a CDN (as mentioned above) and keeping all of your website software up to date.
Sometimes a site crash is unavoidable, so it is best to be prepared. Back up your files daily and relaunch your site as soon as possible.
3. Make Navigating your Site Easy
It may seem desirable to cram as much information and products into your web pages as possible, but too much information can ruin the user experience.
Just like a physical store, customers do not want to spend most of their time looking for the item they want to purchase.
i) Know What Users Expect
When users enter a site homepage, they expect it to be laid out in a certain way. Most sites have the navigation menu across the top of the screen, which includes simple navigation titles.
Menu titles are usually “home,” “contact,” “about us,” and product or information titles related to your product or service.
There is also a search bar easily visible near the top of the page. Looking at other sites can give you a good idea of what users commonly see, so take note.
ii) Use Logical Organization
Your navigation menu should make sense. Each title should host a few related subcategories that make it easier for users to find what they are looking for.
There is no real rule about how many menu items and subcategories you should have, but try to consolidate subcategories and site content as much as it makes sense. Use a site wireframe to lay out all of your options and get a visual for what makes sense.
iii) Make Important Pages Easy to Access
If customers are going to convert, there needs to be a way for them to easily find the pages they want. If users enter your site because you provide a service, make sure the page with information on those services is easily and logically found (as stated in the previous section).
Keep the “1 Click Rule” in mind: every click should guide the user closer to what they want in a clear, logical way.
4. Protect Your Customers
Having a weak site infrastructure can leave you and your customers exposed to hackers. Protecting customer information is especially important for e-commerce sites.
If one bit of your customers’ information is compromised, your entire business could lose its credibility.
i) Update Operating Systems
Updating your computer operating systems allows you to maintain the latest security software.
It will help ensure that your site is supported so that hackers are less likely to compromise your site.
ii) Data Encryption
Use encryption software to encode and secure your customers’ financial information, making it viewable only to those who are authorized.
Even if encrypted data is stolen, the perpetrators will have a difficult time accessing your client's information and money.
iii) Limit Employee Access
Be cautious about who has access to critical information. Giving clearance to access passwords, confidential emails, and personal information to only a small number of people will reduce the number of places that can be potentially targeted by hackers.
5. Solid Site Infrastructure Increases Your Results
Making sure your site’s infrastructure is well thought out and executed properly will allow your company to effectively market your products and information to your customers.
Your website is a glimpse into the world of consumers—don’t let poor infrastructure keep you from capturing your audience.
Morgen Henderson grew up in West Jordan, Utah. She has experience in the family entertainment industry where her love of business and technology began to sprout. She spent a year and a half doing humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic, and enjoys helping others. She also loves to travel, bake, and learn about topics relating to technology and business.