It’s not enough anymore just to have a website. It’s not even enough to have a nice-looking, truly informative, fully operational website that properly collects visitor data and strategically incorporates SEO. To make your mark on the web today, you need all bases loaded, all hands on deck, all cylinders firing simultaneously: functionality, speed, credibility, content, interface optimization, logical organization and flow, security and privacy, automation, accessibility, and aesthetics. (And so much more.)
That’s a lot to ask of just one piece of your business, but since it’s arguably the most essential component of your marketing plan—visible to the greatest number of people to make the largest impression in the shortest amount of time—it’s worth considering some improvements you can make to enhance your site’s user experience and expand your customer base.
WAYS TO ELEVATE YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN
Looks Matter – How a website looks is just as important, maybe even more so, than what it says or does. Universal laws of attraction come into play when eye meets screen, and taking advantage of results-proven tactics will hold the eye longer and direct your visitors where you want them to go. Have fun here. Play with different color schemes, backgrounds, and design elements. Try new web fonts. Experiment with new layouts that assimilate negative space and balance words and images. Aim for clean and concise, welcoming and engaging, contemporary but timeless. You can always update text, replace photos, and post new content, but once you have a great-looking, attention-grabbing, visually appealing design in place, you’re three-quarters of the way to success.
Customize Your Site to Your Particular Business – Templates are great. Templates save tons of time, lay invaluable groundwork, and take the guesswork out of much coding. But templates are made for a general audience—to take them past the starting line, not necessarily all the way to the finish line. Make sure to put the “finishing touches” on your site by customizing it to your business specifically. If you’re a salon, change that “Make an Appointment” button to “Schedule Your Hair Coloring Now.” If you’re a master craftsperson, change the “Products” menu option to “Hand-Crafted Products.” Use stock photos specific to your industry (better yet, use photos of your own business, your own staff at work); use language aimed directly at your audience; and add features and elements that would be most useful to them. Imagine yourself as your own ideal customer: What would you expect to see to let you know you’ve come to the right place? Work samples from a writer? Before and after pictures of a home remodel? A questionnaire or checklist to zero in on precisely what service is needed? Whatever it is that would sell you on your own company, showcase that feature in your web design.
Broadcast Your Brand – Part of custom-tailoring your site, of course, is capitalizing on it as a platform to announce your brand loudly and proudly. All the design elements of your digital products and your print products should match precisely—the colors, typefaces, logo, graphics, taglines, even the voice you use and the flavor you concoct—so that there’s a seamless, utterly consistent look and feel to your business no matter where, when, or how an individual first encounters it. You want to become as familiar and as immediately recognizable as possible. Persistent and pervasive branding across all your marketing collateral is the shortcut to that destination. (And this means working your trademark characteristics into ALL pages of your website, by the way, so that regardless of what landing page is initially accessed, the page is undoubtedly stamped with your brand and your brand alone.)
Drive Home Your Messaging – Closely related to, and yet distinct from, your branding is your messaging: exactly what it is you want the world to know, what the world should know, about your business. This isn’t the place to be coy, humble, or vague. You can be clever with your slogan or motto—in fact, that’s desirable; but when it comes to your bottom-line messaging, you want to be clear, direct, transparent, and specific. If you can pull off inspiring and innovative to boot, all the better, but it’s most important for you to underline and underscore one or two standout features that make you stand out. If you have the lowest prices in your industry in your region, then every single page of your website should highlight that. If you’ve won an award, picture that award in an attractive graphic on every page. The greatest selection, stellar ratings, extensive experience, cutting-edge technology, a 24/7 hotline … make the central pillar of your messaging banner-worthy news across your whole site so that visitors distinguish you from the crowd with the words and phrases you choose to effectively encapsulate the need you meet and the value you bring.
Show, Don’t Tell – But words aren’t everything these days. Content may be king, but if so, then images are queen. Icons, infographics, photos, animations, illustrations, graphs, charts, tables, labels and tags and buttons and bars—use ’ em all and use ’em wisely, where they make information easier to process or where they convey an idea better than text alone could. An especially cogent and time-effective tool is a video. What used to be imparted via print ads, radio spots, tutorials, and slide shows can now be captured in a single video, accessed by a single click of a mouse, no suspicious connecting, downloading, or information-gathering required. The user simply watches your embedded video from your own web page to hear and see exactly what you want them to hear and see in the time they will allot you.
Leverage Your Social Media Presence – You want your social media networks to drive viewers to your website, but you also want your website to drive viewers to your social media networks to convert them to followers. The obvious step here is to include the normative links to your accounts, placed prominently in your design, so that you can leverage cross-platform performance and activity. That said, don’t include social media links unless or until you’re regularly active on those platforms. How many times have you clicked on Twitter’s blue bird or Instagram’s camera only to find the link disabled or the most recent post dating back to 2018? If you don’t know how to create content and schedule regular posts on your own, call in someone who does. Like having a mod website, having a social media presence is basically considered de rigueur in today’s marketplace.
Make the Call to Actions Clear – So you have traffic to your site. Great. Now what are you going to do with it? More to the point, what do you want your visitors to do? Make that plain. Make that easy. Make that a no-brainer. “Click here for a complimentary sample.” “Subscribe here for our free newsletter.” “Chat now with a representative.” “Call XXX-XXX-XXXX for a guaranteed callback within 24 hours.” This is the part of business that never changes: Once someone figuratively walks through your door, you’ve got to give them what they came for, making sure they either depart with a takeaway or leave behind valuable information you can use. If the CTA is answered, the visit won’t have been just window shopping; instead, it creates a hot lead you can follow up on.
Simplify Navigation – You want a robust and comprehensive site that properly and adequately represents your business, but you don’t want users to get lost trying to find their way to where they want to go. There’s a multitude of options out there for how to set up streamlined navigation, so if your current organizational blueprint isn’t producing the results you want, try another structure that’s more user-friendly and clear-cut. You don’t have to redesign your whole site—the links and pages are already in place—you just want to reconfigure your menus, tabs, clicks, and links in a way that makes the most sense to the user. It’s the difference between finding Aunt Helen’s house with a map unfolded next to you on the passenger seat versus having your nav system announce: “Turn right at the light.”
Properly Introduce Yourself – It’s all about the client today, that’s true—what you can do for them, how you can ease their pain points. But the client is still a person, and a person likes to know who they’ll being doing business with and how that business is conducted. Include an “About” page that provides enough history on your company to assure the visitor that you’re legit and qualified. If applicable to your market, include a staff page with short bios and head shots that put faces to names. People also like to learn about other people’s experience with your business, so if you have testimonials, by all means put them to work. You don’t have to have a separate page for customer feedback—you can work quotes into the overall design or, even better, link to Google Reviews and other third-party review sites that you don’t control yourself. Word of mouth is another one of those business principles that will never go out of style.
That’s quite enough to start, wouldn’t you say? And although these steps might sound like a lot to undertake, they can all be done quite quickly and efficiently with the assistance of a skilled and talented web consultant. Sure, you can let your long-established website hum along out there in cyberspace waiting for the occasional traveler to bump into it. Or you can turn up the volume of your site with a few simple but targeted moves so that it reverberates, resonates, and clearly reinforces your mission and goals the moment someone lands on your personal corner of the digital universe.
Let RWS Consulting help you optimize your website design: 202-409-8113 or firstname.lastname@example.org