We all desire traffic to our website.
You work hard to create content your site visitors will love.
You share and promote the heck out of your content in the hope that you’ll get likes, shares and traffic to your site.
In the movie, Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield. He kept hearing the message, “if you build it, they will come.” Yet before “they” came, he built the groundwork so when they came, it was sustainable.
It is no different for your website design and configuration. You want to research, design and apply the framework for a sustainable website before you drive a lot of traffic to your site.
Not all traffic is created equal
As a dedicated bicyclist in my everyday life, I rarely use my car. I currently live in a town that has a beloved network of multi-use paths—beloved by me as well as fellow cyclists, walkers, runners, tourists, people pushing and pulling dogs or baby strollers—a lot of folk.
And each person, just like your website user, moves at his own pace.
They often multitask as they travel the path in their own world engaged in conversation or with headphones on, tunes jamming.
Just like on your website, a lot of navigating occurs on those multi-use paths.
And in some places, there are yellow do not pass lines painted down the middle of the trail. While those signals help avoid collisions, they also cause traffic flow challenges.
Multi-use paths, roads and your sustainable website all require a far-sighted system be implemented for traffic to flow smoothly.
Otherwise we get stuck in a traffic jam. Not the kind of traffic we seek!
Your dream is to generate traffic to your website, yet are you prepared? Are there too many obstacles or will a reader navigate your site with ease?
You never know when your content will go viral
Be prepared. You cannot fully know when something you publish will go viral. While bicycling, the viral shift from empty to an overflowing path happened in one warm day. Your website also requires a sustainable design to support traffic in any circumstance.
So let’s pedal backwards and unsnarl the traffic
Winter arrived, temperatures dropped below 32° and I kept riding. Except now the path was traffic-free—only occasionally punctuated by others.
On the empty path, it was quick and easy to reach my destination.
No distractions. No obstacles.
I simply followed the unfolding path to my desired destination. This is the experience you want your website visitor to have.
Yet as seasons do, winter turned into spring and temperatures warmed. Suddenly, I was no longer riding on the multi-use trail alone.
The path was overflowing with traffic—full of distractions and obstacles.
I had to pay close attention in order to navigate around moving obstacles to arrive at my destination. I had to allow more time to get there, too. This is not the experience you want your site visitor to have.
After all those months of solitary travel I was not prepared for the obstacles and traffic.
- It takes too long for your site to load, so she needs to either allow more time (and patience) or opt to go elsewhere to meet her needs.
- She has to click multiple links, obstacles on the path, to where she wants to go because your navigation has become muddled due to the lack of a clearly laid out navigation plan.
- She gets an error message because your website crashed under the strain of shared hosting so she is stopped, never reaching her destination.
- She may arrive at your website only to discover that she’s hit a do not pass sign. You want your site to include a clear call to action, like a one-way sign that says this way. That action might be to ask her to sign up for your newsletter, get your free course or to pay a deposit to work with you. Without an easy navigation path, she is thwarted in her journey to get the promised solution to her problem.
You won’t necessarily mention your products or services in every piece of content you create, but you also can’t assume your audience knows you offer something they need. Potential customers need to be absolutely clear how they can move forward with what you have to offer.—Stefanie Flaxman, Copyblogger.com
How to help your site visitor have the best user experience
Traffic is a part of modern-day life—be it on the physical or virtual highway. And we all pay for it in some way. There are often tradeoffs.
With your website, one of the main highway considerations is your hosting. When just starting, we often opt for inexpensive website hosting, thinking it’s a good way to keep expenses low and save money. Yet is that really true?
There are many factors that you might not realize when making that first where to host my WordPress website decision that could actually cost you more than if you’d opted for quality hosting to start.
Cost is often one of the deciding factors when making a business decision. So it might seem fine when you are small to choose inexpensive, shared website hosting. However, when you take a step back, you realize that in today’s speed-oriented world, your overall cost might be higher based on that initial choice.
- Your site loads too slowly. Thus your visitor loses patience and goes elsewhere to buy. And your site rank is downgraded by Google so your visitor can’t find your site.
- Lack of scalability. If your traffic grows beyond your budget host allowance and they may shut your site down. You then have to take money and time from other tasks to move your website.
- The extra traffic you worked so hard to attract could crash your site so no one can access it.
- Lack of adequate security which means your site could more easily be hacked.
If you are using WordPress to build your website, one way to ensure that your traffic won’t go away empty handed is to use WordPress managed hosting. Managed hosting is specifically created to support WordPress and its needs so your site loads faster. It is also scalable, includes backups, updates, and additional security against hackers. And premium support for you, the site owner.
And if you are not quite ready for Managed WordPress hosting, check out SiteGround. They offer helpful support, too. Just know that while their hosting is a great deal for the first year, you’ll be paying prices similar to Managed WordPress hosting after the first year—without the premium performance.
Preparedness is the key and it’s best not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Plan for overkill on your first few events and then fine tune your setup as you gain experience and confidence. It’ll be money and time well spent.
Ideally you want website hosting that will scale (expand) to allow for spikes in your website traffic. Hosting that will be ready when your content suddenly goes viral. Just like morning and evening rush hour, traffic has lighter and heavier flows. You want your website hosting to be able to accommodate the “rush hour” flow.
Whatever website host you choose, don’t forget to make sure you set your site up with an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate and use https (a more secure url) for your whole website. Previously, you only cared about SSL if you were processing credit card payments on your site. Today it is a required part of having a sustainable website.
The bad news—Google is now warning users when a website does not use https, which might scare some readers. The good news, per Google, is using https provides your readers a safer, faster and more secure experience by encrypting data between their “local” browser and your site.
Sustainable business is for the long haul
Most of us start a business to support the life, the passion, the community we want to serve. While we want to make a good living today, we are in business to grow and be sustainable over time.
Yes, the internet is constantly evolving and it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll be able to do things online tomorrow that you can’t do today. Yet building a solid infrastructure now will serve you over time, as well as save you money because your website will be a solid partner that can continue to support you as your business grows.