In today’s digital world there is no question how important your company’s website is. It is often the first time a prospective customer, partner or employee learns about your organization and either decides to engage further or move on. A quality website builds trust; it’s the vehicle that showcases your expertise, values and culture. It needs to accurately detail your products or services, and clearly communicates your brand promise. Whether you’re refreshing your current site or building a new one (or haven’t yet, but need to), here are seven tips to ensure your next website hits the mark.
1) Make Sure Messaging Reflects Your Company – Every page, paragraph and sentence of your website should reflect your company’s brand. Content should be a representation of your mission, goals and overall persona. Most important your site needs to resonate with your target audiences. Developing a website presents the perfect opportunity to assess your messaging by audience and make sure it is up to date. If you think it needs refreshing, it may be time to hold a messaging session to formulate concrete pillars before planning your new site.
2) Make It Easy to Navigate – How will your customers interact with your site? What are they looking for, and how can you make it easy for them to find it? This is another instance where it’s critical to understand customer needs. Look to personas you have built. Assess your Google Analytics for existing top visited pages. Look to resources like Answer the Public and Ubersuggest to see what people are searching on. Once on a company’s homepage, 86 percent of visitors want to see information about that company’s products/services, followed by that company’s contact information (64 percent) and “about us” information (52 percent) (Source: KoMarketing). Many people also visit a site’s “news” page to get a quick read on new developments at the company. So make sure it’s prominent. These insights will be critical in building out your navigation plan and wireframes based on customer needs. Also, SEO research is important to build up the list of key words that you will use in page titles and copy to help prospects find you on Google in the first place.
3) Make It Mobile – Between December 2013 and December 2015, tablet internet consumption grew by 30 percent, and smartphone internet consumption grew by 78 percent. (Source: comScore). Today, every company must have a site that is responsive. Google basically demands it, and so do your customers. Make sure your site works well across mobile devices and includes links to helpful information. And contact info such as an email or telephone number should be easy to access with the tap of a thumb.
4) Set a Realistic Timeline – While we all wish we could successfully build and launch a site within days, there is a lot of planning, programming, writing and testing that goes into it. Realistic development, from start to finish, planning to quality assurance, typically takes anywhere from three to six months. Plan your website launch date accordingly and give yourself a cushion in case you hit a few speedbumps along the way. It is always better to have more time to program and edit content as opposed to rushing these important steps, and risking mistakes, in order to meet an unrealistic deadline.
5) Ensure Great Aesthetics – Given 15 minutes to consume content, most (two-thirds of) people prefer to read something beautifully designed versus plain (Source: Adobe). The process of selecting images, color scheme, typeface can be fun, yet frustrating. Images – whether you decide to go with royalty-free, original art or photographs – add life to a site, can build a theme, and enable you to speak to your brand without words. But here’s the hard part – everybody likes something different. Be flexible, limit the number of decision-makers and lean on your website team to make recommendations.
6) Capture Leads or Information – Some companies spend countless resources driving prospective customers to their site, only to fail at capturing a lead. Odds are that prospects may never return to your site. This challenge can be solved by creating an opt-in offer that will appeal to your site visitors. It can be valuable content, a demo, newsletter subscription or special offer or discount. Or maybe it’s a short survey to gauge sentiment. The key, make sure you create ways to capture information from the visitors you worked so hard to drive to your site.
7) Choose the Right Team – The best team is often a combination of in-house and outsourced specialists. Partners might include a good PR team to develop messaging and content, a talented graphic artist, and an experienced web development team. You’ll be working closely, so it’s important to select members that understand your business/industry and have a clear idea of the type of brand image your company is trying to convey. Look for a team that has experience, asks a lot of questions and provides recommendations based on what is trending in your industry and the latest in styles and navigation schemes. Request samples of recently completed sites to see if their approach and aesthetics appeals to you and can translate for your business. But also keep in mind, the website examples will be of another business and they have personal likes/dislikes. So, look beyond color and image choices for the overall design expertise and solid content writing.
In creating your new web site, you want to make it easy for prospects to find and navigate your domain and understand your business. It’s often not a simple process to get there, but with the right planning, positioning, resources, knowledge and team, you can end up with an end product that achieves your goals and you are really proud of.
Check out these recent web sites Clearpoint has worked on for SynteractHCR, Interpreta, CUSO Financial Services/Sorrento Pacific Financial, CULA and contact us to learn how we can help you.