It is a rare business that doesn’t have a website these days. Even if it is just a page with a business description, location and contact details, you need to have an online presence of some kind to attract the attention of your customer base.
A good website is now the equivalent to a good opening handshake. It is often the first impression of your business a customer gets so it has to be professional and confident. It is also a good opportunity to demonstrate to your customers what your services or products are and how they can be of benefit.
Whatever your business is, there are three fundamental elements that you must include: easy navigation, professional design and SEO. Whether you are selling fancy dress costumes or offering legal aid, your customers will be looking for these three things on your site. Excluding even one will be detrimental to your business.
For a fancy-dress store, it is vital that your customers can search your site for the product they want, recognize your branding in the professional design and find you on search engines for instant access to your products. A law firm web design might feel quite different but the same fundamentals apply. Clients must be able to access advice and services naturally, be given confidence in your ability with a professional design and be able to find you at the top of search results to lend authority to your business.
The best way to achieve an outstanding website is to use a professional development company who are experienced and understand your business inside out. However, you should still understand the basics of what is going on to allow more of a collaborative approach.
1. Easy Navigation and Usability
Have you ever been on a website and not managed to find the page you were looking for? Perhaps you couldn’t find a menu to guide you there, or maybe the link you tried was broken. After a minute or so, you probably gave up trying to navigate the site and went to another website.
This is how vital easy navigation and usability are.
If you understand your customers well, you will be able to predict the patterns of movement they want to make through your website. For example, if they are reading a blog about improving SEO, they would probably expect there to be a link to your SEO services on that page. Similarly, on a menu containing services, they would expect to find that same link again.
Easy navigation is about giving your customers plenty of opportunities to find each page on your site. This will have two positive outcomes: firstly, they are more likely to stay on your site and read through a few different pages and secondly, they are more likely to find the page that converts them into a paying customer.
Get this part right, and everything else should fall into place.
2. Professional Design
When we go into shops, we have certain expectations about what we will find. In a high-end store, for example, we might expect fancy decor and a sparse layout that guides us through. In a thrift store, we are more likely to expect shelves stacked high and bright lights. The same psychology applies to website design so you need to anticipate what your customers want from you.
You must also apply your branding guidelines. In fact, building your website might be a really good time to reassess what your branding looks like. Branding covers everything from the color scheme you use to the font size and the styling of every picture. It’s like a wardrobe for your business. Get the branding right and your business will look the part.
3. Search Engine Optimization
If you want to be found at the top of the search engine listings, you must apply SEO best practices. This means making sure that every page is well linked, the geography of your site is logical and the content is keyword researched, easy to read and relevant to your customers. If anything is going to grow your conversion rate, it is SEO.
There are rafts of things that come under SEO and really unless you are an SEO specialist, fully optimizing your website will require input from a professional. Google regularly changes the ranking algorithm meaning that even the best websites are in a constant game of catch-up with the tech giant. Monitoring your competition closely will give you an idea of what you need to do to improve your own SEO, but it will also help to identify the areas where you can do better and try to overtake them.