If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that in order to grow (and survive) as a business, we need to have some form of online presence, whether that be through social media platforms, networking, or a website. But we can’t think of these things as mutually exclusive.
If you only ever have a Facebook Page to sell your wares, your audience reach will be far more limited. And what if the unheard-of happened, and your social profile got hacked and taken away from you? You might have a really successful social following, with tens of thousands of followers, but if that were to get taken away (and it happens more often than you’d think!), would you be able to start again from scratch? Or would that be the death of your business? Years of hard work gone in a second… This is why it’s so important to have your fingers in many pies – so to speak! Yes, make sure you have a strong following and presence on social media, but you also need to have a modern, fully responsive, search engine optimised website.
So… what makes a ‘good’ website?
Think of your website as your business’ online shop window. It needs to showcase your products or services in a clear and informative way, but at the same time as being eye-catching and enticing enough to make the user want to step over the threshold into your shop to get a better idea of what you’re all about.
Competition is fierce in the online world. If you don’t have anything appealing to show in your shop window (i.e. your homepage), customers will skip on to the next website selling the same products as you. The attention spans of internet users are minimal – you have about 3 seconds to make a good and lasting impression on a visitor on your website. If it’s too slow to load, doesn’t immediately grab the user’s attention, or has poor usability, it isn’t worth the code it’s written with.
- A Clear Purpose
- User Experience
- Mobile Responsive
- Easy to Navigate
- Good SEO Content (Search Engine Optimisation)
- Clear Call to Actions
- Original Content
Let’s take a look at these in more detail…
1. A Clear Purpose
Know your audience. It’s vitally important to make sure your website’s purpose is clear as soon as the user lands on your page. Are you selling a service? Do you have an eCommerce store to sell products? Think about what action you want the user to take when they are on your website and make sure they can do this as quickly and easily as possible. If it’s designed for lead generating, make sure they can easily sign up to a marketing newsletter; if you have an online shop can your customers easily find the products they require without much friction?
2. User Experience
User experience is not only how something looks, but also how it feels to the user. This follows on from knowing your audience and website’s purpose – the user should always be first and foremost at the front of your mind when making any design decisions. Ask yourself, “does this call-to-action make it clear what I want the customer to do?”, “Is it easy to understand what it is I’m selling?”, “does my message fit with my target market?”.
If the answer is no, you need to go back to the drawing board and examine the basics – your ideal client, find their persona, and tailor your content accordingly. UX should be incidental – if you’re not considering your users when you design your website, you’re not going to have a successful, easy-to-use site.
3. Mobile Responsive
Let’s be honest, if your website isn’t mobile responsive these days, you might as well be setting fire to your money. Around 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices these days, so it’s the first thing that you should be considering when planning your website, or you’ll be immediately alienating half of your potential customer base, and if your website designer doesn’t do this as standard, it’s time to look elsewhere! When designing websites I always start with the mobile-first approach, both in design and code, to ensure a seamless transition between devices. Your website should feel just as intuitive and easy to navigate on your mobile device as it does on a large desktop screen.
4. Easy to Navigate
Your customers should be able to find the information they need, within just a few clicks. Clear, coherent navigation is vitally important for this. If they struggle to get to their end destination easily, they will leave your site frustrated and empty-handed. Make sure you think about the Information Architecture of your website, or in other words, how your website is structured – your pages should flow in an obvious order. Start by creating a flowchart of all the pages your site requires and how they link together. If you have a lot of information, you can design a ‘mega-menu’ which breaks down your content and pages further into more manageable chunks (think online retail shopping sites such as ASOS which breaks down its navigation into key sections, such as ‘Womenswear > Clothing type > Product type’.
5. Good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
It’s all well and good if you’ve got a great looking website, but if you don’t do the work on the backend to set it up for search engines, then you’re not going to be driving traffic to your website and will be missing out on leads. Meta descriptions and keywords are just some of the settings you need to make sure your web developer takes into consideration when they build your website. I always make sure that all my clients’ websites are fully optimised for search engines and continually monitor traffic and keywords. If you want to talk about how I can help you optimise your website with a maintenance and care plan get in touch today.
6. Clear Call to Actions
Don’t just fill your page with lots of links in the hope that one will get clicked on; if a button is added to a page it has to be for a valid reason. At the other end of the spectrum, however, don’t forget to include buttons or links on your pages – not giving the user a path to continue their journey through the site is almost as bad as having a page full of conflicting paths to take as their next steps. Be consistent with colours and styling of your links. Create a design for your primary call-to-actions (CTAs), and have an alternative version for secondary links, to make sure the user knows which is the key action they should be taking when they’re on the page.
7. Original Content
Your website should be able to tell your story in a user-friendly way. Rather than being all corporate, blue-sky-thinking speak, it should be geared towards your users. Write in a manner that your customers will relate to your message, and understand what it is you are proposing to them. It’s also important that you keep it original – Google will penalise your website if it sees duplicate content, so think twice before copy-pasting the same blurb across your website, social sites and blog. Adapt your content based on where it’s being served and ensure you’re thinking about the keywords that are related to your business and services to help drive traffic to your site.
With the latest release of Google’s algorithm update – Core Web Vitals – it’s even more important that your website loads fast and correctly. Google uses a set of three specific page speed and user interaction measurements to determine the user experience score of your website, and push it up or down the rankings accordingly. Making sure your users can get the information they need as quickly as possible is so important.