There are very many beautiful, snazzy looking websites out there, but are they really doing what they need to do? Many people it seems are going for design over purpose. Or on the flip side they focus on purpose and fail to see the importance of design in attracting potential customers.
Your website is your 'shop window' to display your products or services. It's like a brochure telling people about you and your business, your range of products and services and the benefits of dealing with you. What does it say about you and your brand?
Being clear about the purpose of your website when potential customers visit it is a priority before you or your web designer start building it. Is your website meant to sell or inform, or both? What do you want visitors to do - buy online, call to discuss their needs, book an event? The outcome you want needs to be built in to the design so it is easy to achieve. Remember your website is FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS and it has to meet their needs or they will go elsewhere.
Below is a check list for some of the top things to think about when you are designing a website for the first time or maintaining an existing one.
Not everything is essential and whether or not to include some of them will depend on the needs of your individual business. However, if you aim to have at least some of these in place on your site you will be on the right track.
1. A Clear Home Page
Top of the list and this one is really essential for anyone. Is it immediately clear what your website is about and can a potential customer find what they want quickly and easily? Is there clear navigation and signposting to help people? Is you home page design attractive and on brand?
2. Good Photos
As the old saying goes a 'picture is worth a thousand words'. It is really worth investing in some good photos to convey your messages, display your products and services in the best way possible. If you are going to spend money on anything spend it on good photography or stock images.
3. Up to Date Content/ Design
When did you last update your content? Does your content still reflect what you do? Is there outdated text, photos, old dates on your site that make it look tired and old? Could you make your site look more contemporary by tweaking design, colours and incorporating some dynamic content?
4. News / Blogs
Adding a blog to your site can be a great way to add regular new content to your site and to keep your site looking 'active' and up to date. Search engines are constantly seeking new content and this can be the easiest way to add it in the form of e.g. news, hints, tips, information articles.
3. Call to Action
What do you want people to do when they land on your page? Buy, Shop, Book, Contact you? Are you providing customers with clear and prominent links to enable them to follow the path you want quickly and easily, turning their initial interest into a sale or engagement?
Video can add a dynamic feel to your website and provide customers with an alternative medium to receive messaging about you and your products or services making things 'real' and believable. By hosting them on Youtube or Video you are also building external links.
7. Customer Testimonials / Feedback
Third party endorsement is a brilliant marketing tool and excellent for fostering trust and credibility. Can you include any positive customer feedback on your site in the form of testimonials, case studies or reviews or links to customer review sites like Trip Advisor?
8. Links to/ from Social Media
Linking out to your social media channels can encourage engagement through other media. Streaming in live tweets or facebook posts can help your site look contemporary and more dynamic. Inward links from social media can create traffic to your site. Add social media icons.
9. Obvious Contact Information
A big bug bear from customers - they can't find contact information quickly and easily. Make it obvious, make it easy for people to get in touch with you. If they can't find what they need to get in touch you can appear uncaring, unfriendly and inaccessible - be welcoming about contact.