Welcome to the first website review on Magnet4Blogging.
Each and every month we’ll be publishing an in-depth review of a website that we’ve stumbled upon on the big bad web.
For each website we review, we’ll be sharing with you the good, the bad and the absolute ugly.
The purpose of these website reviews is to help you. If you have a website for your business that you want to make the most of, you’ll learn a lot of tips and tricks from reading our website reviews each month.
For now, we’re actively searching and finding websites to review, but if of course, you have a particular website you’d like us to crack the whip at, send us an email and select “website review” in the drop down menu of our contact page.
The website can even be your own.
OK, let’s begin the ‘no mercy’ onslaught of this first website review.
So in this month’s firing line, we have PeterWardHomes.co.uk. We stumbled upon this website via a link that was shared on LinkedIn by one of our connections.
Here’s what we’re going to be looking at.
- Front-page design, layout, message, etc.
- Website design and UI.
- Mobile responsiveness and score.
- Google page speed performance and score.
- Social popularity score.
- What’s good about the website?
- What’s bad about the website?
- How could the website be improved?
#1. Website Review: Front Page
OK, so by looks of it this is a website designed to help home buyers buy or sell their homes.
Here’s a screenshot of the homepage of PeterWardHomes.co.uk.
The first thing that came to my mind was that the site looked somewhat dated.
The second thing that came to my mind was just how much that content slider sucked.
I did say “no mercy”…
Anyway, although there’s a clear headline message in the header area that says: “building beautiful homes since 1978”, the clarity of that message somewhat becomes blurry to me, with that ineffective use of the content slider.
From a user standpoint, I really think the site design has failed to make better use of the space above the fold. And you know my thoughts on sliders, right?
Sliders do nothing to improve user experience on a website. Most people ignore them since no one really has the time or patience to wait for the next slider to appear so that they can see what it’s about.
And by the way, that’s not just my opinion, check out this interesting article on Thrive Themes about content sliders in general.
As I scroll down the front page, I see more information about the business and website.
Lack of, and poor use of visuals
PeterWardHomes.com uses some visuals and images in the content slider, however, this is meant to be a ‘property’ or ‘homes for sale’ website. I just feel that some of the images could be more aligned with what the website is supposed to be about, selling homes right?
There are images of churches, flower beds, random people eating food, and some stock photography. There’s little in the way of beautiful images of actual homes for sale on the front page.
I appreciate that showing images and visuals that reflect comfort living, idyllic locations and whatever else is important for a website like this, but I also feel that with the lack of relevant images of actual homes for sale, the message becomes less clear about what this website is about.
As I scroll down to the footer section, I’m’ greeted with even more information overload, links to other pages, resources etc.
So my overall thoughts on this website design and its marketing message? Well, it could do with some improvements for sure.
How could the front page be improved?
- Content slider removed and replaced with a more “relevant” hero image/banner section.
- Create a more powerful marketing message to give visitors clarity about what the website is about, along with a CTA button.
- More interesting visuals and images of actual homes for sale.
- Better blog integration. It would appear that the blog is external from the site, hosted on a WordPress.com domain. I realize that this is probably a different matter altogether, however, having the blog on the same URL would certainly help with SEO, i.e more content rich pages.
- Better structured “about” and “information” section with a CTA button or links to learn more on a separate page. This would also help with SEO.
- Better organized content in the footer section, there’s way too many links and options down there.
Here’s a screenshot of a similar website I found called Beal Homes.
Now already you can see that Beal Homes website makes better use of the space above the fold with high-quality and relevant images of homes for sale, although it’s also using a content slider, however, it is making better use of the slider without overwhelming with too much content or options.
The slider sections also take the user on a journey, starting with “Your new home starts here” followed by a clear CTA button.
#2. Design and UI
So let’s now take a look at the elements that make up the design and user interface of PeterWardHomes.co.uk
There are clear signs that this website hasn’t been updated for a long while.
Let’s start with those dated looking icons at the top of the front-page. Those could do with being revamped by a graphic designer and would be better placed in the footer section and not in the header section, to begin with.
If the aim is to keep visitors engaged longer on a website, the last thing any website owner would want to do is make their visitors leave by giving them the option to click on an external link or icon.
The main navigation menu seems fine and personally, I wouldn’t make many changes to this.
Typography on this website is also a small issue I find, literally.
12px, in my opinion, is far too small to cater for all audiences. Modern website designs now incorporate font sizes of at least 16px and upwards.
How could the design and UI be improved?
As far as ‘white space’ goes, there’s not really much of it on the front page or the rest of the site. Everything seems to be placed too close together.
The site could be improved with a better layout of its content.
In addition to increasing the font size, I would also be inclined to increasing line height slightly as well. This would help improve readability of the content on the site for all audiences, across all platforms.
The social icons at the top should be placed in the footer section of the site, so to keep the visitor engaged on the site for as long as possible.
#3. Mobile Responsiveness And Score
The website is somewhat mobile responsive, however, some of the content is annoyingly difficult to view on mobile devices, and there seem to be some navigational issues too. See screenshot below.
Ensuring your website is clean and fully mobile responsive is critical for any business large or small. According to this case study report, the number of global internet users on mobile devices has overtaken desktop users.
How could this website be improved on mobile devices?
There appear to be two versions of this website, one for mobile viewing and one the desktop viewing.
My advice to this website owner would be, to have mobile responsiveness built into the desktop site so that when the site is being viewed on mobile devices, the code is easily translated to make the website responsive.
#4. Google Pagespeed Performance Score
Here are some of the screen captures for the page speed performance of this website.
How could this website’s page speed be improved?
- Enable compression or completely remove the content slider and replace it with a hero/banner image.
- Leverage browser caching.
- Optimize images.
- Minify HTML.
- Minify CSS.
#5. Social Popularity Score
Here’s the social popularity score for this website.
How could social media shares be improved on this site?
- Installation and configuration of social sharing tools like Social Warfare or Sumo Share. However, since the website is NOT on a WordPress platform, this would mean manually embedding social sharing tools into the site.
#6. What’s good about this website design?
That’s a tough question for me to answer, being a web designer and developer, the websites I’ve created for my own clients have been bold, clean, modern and fresh looking, with a focus on user experience.
Whilst the site has a strong brand identity, the overall design, look and feel of the website is pretty boring and once again, somewhat dated.
#7. What’s bad about this website design?
In all honesty? Everything from that annoying content slider, the small typography, badly organized front page and content, overloaded footer section, and lack of and poor use of quality and relevant images and other visuals.
That being said, it’s not the worst website on the planet. The issues are more with user experience than anything else.
#8. How could this website be improved?
If this client approached me, my first piece of advice to him would be to redevelop the website on a self-hosted WordPress platform.
WordPress has a lot of great features built into its open source software, as well as built-in mobile responsive, HTML5 markups, performance and security and more.
Using WordPress would also make it easier for the site owner to manage and maintain the website himself, saving on management and maintenance time and costs.
My second advice would be to make the front page more aligned with the business, create a more powerful and compelling headline title and use better visuals of actual homes for sale.
All of this would help create a stronger message to the site’s target audience, improve accessibility and usability and maybe even create more leads and prospects.
So just to recap, for the design and UI aspect I would pay close attention to:
- Updated design.
- Responsive design.
- Typography (UI).
- Page speed load times.
- Better organization of content.
Lessons to be learned from this website review
Trends change all the time in website design. If you have a similar website in this type of industry, or in any other industry for that matter, don’t let it become a dinosaur if it’s an integral part of your business. Keep up with the trends.
It doesn’t matter how large or successful your business might be offline or where ever else, your website is the main online portal for customers to find you and your business, make it special for them.