For those about to embark on their first website or facing an overhaul of their existing site, the task can seem a little overwhelming. Here are few factors to make sure your website is an effective tool for your business and a worthwhile investment.
Clean and easy to navigate.
Clean is a word you’ll hear designers use a lot. It means the design is unencumbered by excessive complexity, that each element has it’s own room to breath and there’s a clear hierarchy of information.
A common mistake that clients make is to demand that certain elements “stand out” more or “pop”. They want things bigger, bolder and brighter colours until all these big bold elements are competing with each other, like a room full of people all trying to shout over-top of each other. The end result is a cacophony of visual noise.
Ultimately websites are about accessing information and the easier you make it for the user to find what they’re looking for, the more effective it will be.
Consistent with your established graphic identity and brand strategy.
Your website, as with your advertising and marketing should be part of a bigger picture strategy. Consistency in the way you present your company leads to increased brand recognition and loyalty.
Appealing and relatable to the target audience.
If your budget allows a professional copywriter is a great advantage. Don’t use corporate speak. Invent a persona that fits your demographic and write as if they were in the room and you were speaking directly to them.
Filled with engaging media, including text, images, video and audio.
With each passing year the bar gets raised a little higher for what users expect from their online experience. We now expect more than some static text and a few images. There’s an expectation of interaction and active participation, feedback and continually refreshed and updated content.
Designed with specific outcomes and goals in mind.
Have a plan. What do you want your audience to notice first when they arrive on your home page and what actions do you want them to take? Signup for the newsletter? Request a quote? Purchase a product? The website design of the site should be centred around the answers to questions such as these so that the decisions you make are purposeful and effective.
Search Engine Friendly.
It goes without saying that you want people to be able to find your site. It should be noted that Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing task, it’s challenging to reach those coveted high ranking positions on Google, so be prepared to make a commitment of time and money to making it happen if this is one of your goals. However even if don’t plan to actively engage in search engine optimization, you should still ensure that your designer or programmer is using search engine friendly programming methods and best practices.
Easy to update and continually refreshed.
Give your audience a reason to visit your site and to keep coming back. If your website never changes, there’s no reason to come back. You have a unique opportunity online to engage and interact with your customer base through your website and other online channels. Be diligent about maintaining a blog, provide valuable content, contribute to conversation that are happening online and get creative with video, audio or graphical elements that enhance the user experience. A content management system (CMS) can help facilitate this by providing a user friendly interface for non-programmers to update content. WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal are good examples.
Your website should include some kind of analytics software to track user data, so you can see where your visitors are coming from, what they’re interested in and how you can improve your results. Google analytics is the best free option. These are just some of the factors to consider when trying to build an effective website. The most important thing to remember is not to treat your website like an after thought. It’s often where you make your first impression.