Your website is a critical part of your business strategy, and beyond just being an online advertisement for your business to help people find your services, foremost it should be a powerful business tool to drive more sales and brand awareness.
Yet sadly many web designers get caught up in the process rather than the planning and miss some of the most important aspects of a successful website design & development.
Like any business tool, your website should have a plan, a foundation a strategy and a goal to ensure it is going to be successful. Just because it might look nice to the eye doesn’t mean it will be an effective marketing tool.
Here are 5 mistakes web designers and website owners make that they need to consider when building a successful website…
Let’s face it, anyone can ‘design’ a website. We’ve all see the ads on TV and Youtube showing celebrities building their own websites. Surely if they can do it it must be easy, right?
What these celebrities don’t show you is firstly, someone else probably did the work for them prior to the filming, and secondly, have you noticed the level of zero thought they put into it. ‘Simply drop and drag this photo here, add some text, and hey, I now have a website!’.
There is a lot more that goes into a website than a simple drop and drag approach. Planning is required to ensure the layout of your site not only draws people’s attention to click on the elements of the site but it also must load fast, work well on all devices, promote brand awareness, and have critical objectives in place to drive leads or sales, and be structured well so that it ranks well organically on Google.
For example, designing a site that doesn’t scroll may seem like a good thing, but by making a visitor scroll means that they stay on the page longer, and view more of the content, which in turn lowers the bounce rate of your site, making Google believe that your content has more value than if someone quickly viewed the page, didn’t scroll and clicked away.
So the objective in this case would be to add quality content worthy of scrolling, but ensure the call to action, such as a click to call or a quote request button, is close to the top of the page or even in the navigation.
So if you’re planning a new site either yourself or your web designer MUST have a good understanding of search engine optimisation, not just know how to make a site stand our visually.
Establishing a Target Audience
When building a website ensure it will attract the right crowd online. While you want your website to be accessible to anyone online, ultimately it will be your niche target audience that is going to make up the majority of sales or enquiries, so the site must appeal to your targeted audience, and this starts with ensuring your branding attracts the right audience. For example, if you’re a property developer and your product you are selling is a two or three bedroom modern townhouse complex within 10 km from the city, then your audience is probably young executives, with possibly one young child. So the colours should be modern, fresh and edgy, rather than say light pastel ‘weak’ colours. And your brand should be modern with a bold statement, rather than a flimsy roman or script typeface that would be better suited to an older crowd.
Once you have established the brand, this should then flow seamlessly throughout your website, your lead capture on your website, your downloadable documents, email footer, etc, and then when integrated with a digital marketing campaign on Facebook or Instagram your target audience who has already visited the site will instantly recognise your brand, and visit the landing page back on your site, where you can capture their details more easily. An easily recognised, familiar brand builds trust and drives sales and leads more easily.
Mobile-friendly is a must
Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets now account for the major part of online traffic, so if your website is not 100% mobile responsive then it needs reviewing. There are many factors that determine if a website is mobile responsive, including colours, font sizes, and of course the layout of the site and how well it transforms and adapts based on screen size.
But something else to keep in mind when ensuring your website is mobile friendly is whether you need all the same content on the mobile device as you do the desktop version of the site. Possibly you might like to develop the site so that a ‘watered-down’ version appears on smaller devices and add a call to action instead of content overload. This can usually be done very easily for most web developers now and usually costs no extra to have created during the development process of your site.
When your visitor lands on your site you want things to be found easily and instantly. When someone comes to your site from Google they could potentially land on any page, so ensuring your navigation allows them to get to any page of your site within one or two clicks is essential. And one of the most obvious things your website should include is a call to action, being either a click-to-call phone number or a request a quote button.
It is recommended that when you build your website show it to a few of your target audience members and ask them to review it and give honest feedback. This will help ensure you don’t lose any potential visitors, and in most cases it only takes a slight tweak to change the layout of your site’s navigation.
Search Engine Optimisation
While many web designers can ‘design’ a site, sadly most don’t know how to build a website with search engine optimisation implemented during the process. For example, many web developers will simple drop in the images named as they were provided rather than change the name to something that is service related. Or add your logo called ‘logo.jpeg’ instead of your business name. This is the foundation elements of your site so they need to be named correctly before they are uploaded, otherwise you need to remove them, rename them, and upload them again.
Then there is on page optimisation such as mentioned above with scrolling of pages, and ensuring the critical elements of the site are ‘above the fold’ (the viewable area that people see before they scroll’, and then of course ensure that the site loads fast on all browsers and devices.
But Google has also stepped up the game for SEO over the past few years making it even easier to rank well, if you know what they require. Keyword stuffing is out, authority content is in (plenty of quality content of substance, such as blog posts), and one newer way of being found is to add frequently asked questions to your pages. You’ll notice that if you type in a question in Google often a page of a site ill be referenced with the question and a link to the answer on their site. This comes directly from their frequently asked questions page or content.
Also keep in mind that if you are a local business you should ensure your site mentions your address and your trading hours, as this information is pulled through to Google Local Business listings, Google Maps and Google Assist. If you want to really get clever you can incorporate different footers on your site for different page content. If you view the footer on the bottom of this website (smartfish.com.au) you’ll see as you visit different sections of the site (eg printing, web design, graphic design, etc) the footer area will show different content. This strengthens your overall page content as well as making it easier for visitors to find the relative content on the same topic.
With these 5 facts in mind, you’ll find that developing your new website correctly will ensure your site performs well both with the search engines and with visitors and you’ll leave your competition in the dust.