Your company’s website is one of the most crucial components of your marketing and branding strategy. Sure, we could hop in and do your socials, throw some money into ads that will drive traffic, design and mail out postcards, or do other means of advertising to generate new traffic or even better, business. If your website is lacking, however, that is putting the cart before the horse. You don’t want to drive new traffic to your company’s website and send them quickly away after a bad experience. You have seconds to make a first impression. Make sure that that impression is a good one and that you don’t send your potential new customers away frustrated and looking for your competitor. So, what are a few things you should think about to ensure a successful user experience on your site?
Responsive Website Design
We have all visited outdated or poorly built sites that are heavy with paragraph upon paragraph of tiny, unreadable text. If really interested in the content, your customer will have to try to zoom in close and navigate around this frustrating site experience. If they aren’t already brand loyal, or curious about your offering, they are likely to click away and find someone offering similar products or services which they can easily digest. These days a large majority of your site viewers will be browsing your site on their mobile devices. Viewing sites on tablets has also become much more common in the last several years. Because you don’t know what device or browsers your site will be viewed on you need to ensure that your business’ website will leave them with a great experience regardless of those circumstances. The right website design team will know how to build your website so that whatever device your site is viewed on the pictures will format, the navigation will adjust, the text will scale, etc. Not only will making sure your site is responsive ensure that your viewers have the best possible experience with your brand and aren’t distracted from your messaging by a frustrating user experience, but Google and other major search engines also won’t ding your site for being non-responsive. When formatting for mobile viewing, buttons may stack, galleries present differently, the navigation often collapses, and more. Make sure to carefully go through your site on a number of devices to make sure you are happy with the experience on each and that your customer’s experience with the site will be favorable.
Keep it Simple
We can all probably think of a few exceptions to what I am saying right now, ahem...my father-in-law, but most people don’t want to read a novel worth of text on your website. Keep it simple and make a strong first impression. Get to the point. Break up your messaging and CTAs (calls to action) with big beautiful banner images. Stick to the most important information. What is really going to convince your customer’s that your product or service is right for them? You only have a few seconds to get, and keep, someone’s attention. How are you going to do it?
Keep your top-level navigation to the point. Stick to five or six main navigation items, whenever possible. Don’t get too carried away with having extensive drop-downs from those main navigation items. It may be okay on desktop, but it is better to keep things clean and simplistic for mobile. Spend time thinking about the information your customer needs and wants to see on your site’s primary pages. Next, keep the messaging succinct and compelling, pepper in a great video and/or imagery and you are set. Most people will never go, or need to go, beyond this level. If you are worried about incorporating some of your other content to appeal to those who like to do further research you can consider having a resource section or another, less primary, way to access that information. This way you can rest assured that this person is covered with all of the information their heart desires, but you are not confusing and turning off your average viewer.
Quality Imagery and Video
One of the biggest challenges we work through with our clients is lack of content. Luckily for everyone, most cell phones these days have some pretty amazing cameras. For website and social media any semi-modern cell phone should do the trick. This is great news for today’s business owner because even if they do want to incorporate an initial professional shoot into their introductory site and marketing package, they can continue to supplement that photography with new products coming in, shots of behind the scenes company action, activity in the store, before and after photos of their work, etc. This will help users connect with your brand and keep your information fresh and relevant, without breaking the bank.
While going through this process, take the extra time to think about lighting, framing of the shot, if there are cluttered items that could be cleaned out the view to make the shot look better, etc. Going that extra mile will really help your brand stand out to the customer and help not distract them with items other than what you want them to be looking at.
Beyond taking the photos, you still need to make sure to size them so they don’t bog down your website’s page speed and name them to help your company’s SEO. Using stock photography is common, but make sure that the choices you make are authentic to your brand and don’t come across as fake to your viewers. People are now used to, and have come to expect high-resolution, high-quality imagery. Don’t spend the time or money investing in a great website and then fall short when it comes to the imagery that you are using to represent your brand. To today's audiences, even a great framework and written content on a site won't do it for them. The imagery needs to be great to tie the whole site together.
What good is a website that no one can find? This is one of the harder ones for people to commit to because it is a serious commitment. I am sure, as a business owner, you get emails every day from several companies with AOL email addresses (first clue?) touting that they will get you to the top of Google for only $100 a month. You know that old saying, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is? SEO is a commitment. It takes continual work and tweaking to do it successfully. If you make a commitment to consistently generating quality, relevant content and taking the time to develop and adjust your keyword strategy while you learn what is/isn’t working it will pay off. In fact, this organic approach will allow you to not have to panic, as some do, every time some looming Google update is on the horizon. Nothing beats the success of those who commit to creating new pages, blogging, image naming and other methods of working on their SEO on a regular basis. It will take months of work before you start to see the fruits of your labors, but if done right and with patience you will be thrilled to see traffic finding you organically through more and more relevant search terms. And remember, while creating (or having this content created), write for your audience and not for search engines. Your content needs to be readable and engaging for the users, not keyword stuffed to try to reach that magical finish line faster. Search engines will notice and no one will want to read what you put out.
There are other ways to drive traffic to your site through social media or other forms of advertising. We recommend a combination of approaches. Make sure you do your research or partner with the right company. If you are spending the money on either of these approaches there are those who can drive traffic to your site for "cheap", like those who boast that they can drive you thousands of new Instagram followers. This may be true, but you are looking for quality followers who are actually interested in your brand. Having users through Click Farms in India are not doing anything for your actual conversion.
So…you made the plunge. You found the perfect creative agency to bring your vision to life. Your website is now SO beautiful and communicates the true essence of your brand. Awesome! Before you start driving traffic to your new website you need to test. Test in different browsers and on different devices. Have your friends and family look at it and share anything they see. That last part can be a slippery slope…don’t get sucked up in it. If they find real problems like broken links, typos, or challenges in the functionality that is great. If you get one or two outlier comments that boil down to opinions, that is where your judgement needs to come into play. We see this with every website we build. It is sent out to everyone they know and everyone has a different opinion or skill level when it comes to navigating websites or other forms of technology. This can get very overwhelming for our clients. Stick true to your vision and the general consensus. If something is legitimately wrong it should be fixed. If several people are having the same confusion or feedback, consider it. The good news is, it is a website, nothing is set in stone. Tweaks can be made on the fly and as you go along and notice people’s traffic patterns, feedback and engagement with your content.
Keep up the Good Work!
Marketing is a process, not a transaction. Make sure to keep updated on your site so that viewers are coming on and seeing new blogs, updated graphics, the latest events, sales, etc. Don’t let site links go broken and frustrating your clients when trying to navigate to the content they are interested in.
Not sure where to start or how you will keep up? We understand that being a business owner means a lot of responsibility. Let us do what we are good at and leave you with the time to keep doing what you are great at. You can rest assured that marketing professionals who care will be consistently putting out relevant and compelling content that will communicate to your target audiences and help organically build your SEO. Contact us today to learn more.