By Rob James

Why is social media such a key part of web design? In part, social media’s importance can be linked to the need for websites to engage users in new ways, and particularly by allowing them to form communities and promote sites across different platforms. Not incorporating social elements into websites can limit functionality, and can make it difficult to expand sites for mobile and other platforms, leading to user dissatisfaction and problems for brands.

In this context, it’s crucial that designers find ways to build applications and tools into web sites as part of their initial construction; this means making sure that Facebook and Twitter are prominently featured on sites without being too obtrusive. Pages should have the option to like and share content, while also being optimised to include great content and videos that can be easily shared. It’s also important, though, to look at individual social networks in order to tailor content to suit different platforms – a steady stream of promotions on Twitter can complement several new blog posts a week, for example.

Social media elements have to be integrated into dynamic sites in ways that make them easy to find and use, while still being intuitive; social media plug ins can now be easily found, which makes it much easier to program them in, or make them accessible through content management systems. Templates can also work well, in this way, for adding in commenting systems and forms that can allow for user discussion on a page.

One of the main challenges for any web designer is making sure that a site is dynamically structured in such a way as to avoid users being faced by a lot of undifferentiated information; a good site should work as a gateway to multiple actions, whether that means eCommerce pages with easy click throughs, email mailing lists, or subscriptions and bonus content through Twitter and Facebook, and via other social networking sites.

Getting social media right as part of web design similarly means making websites adjustable to mobile only versions – millions of smartphone and tablet users log into social networks every day, and need to receive concise versions of sites that can allow them to quickly move between pages and networks – having scalable sites, and pages that use responsive design can help to speed up this process, while making it more intuitive.

A website that’s been successfully optimised for social media will ultimately deliver a stronger SEO response from users and search engines, with the natural impulse of linking and recommendations enabling a site to gain a much larger footprint than it may normally have been able to. Google have recently updated their search algorithms through Penguin and Panda updates to make great content, and relevant backlinks from trusted sites more important than ever to determining a website’s page rank – ensuring that links are being generated from well established social networks is consequently crucial for boosting the visibility of a site, and can help to establish a strong and loyal community of users.

About the author
Rob James is an online marketer he has recently had great success with Bath based web design Deep Blue Sky. Rob can be found blogging about a variety of technology related subjects, including mobile phones, to SEO techniques.


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