Don’t hire your nephew to design your website
The best marketing tool you have for your business or organization is your website. With over 100 billion searches on Google per month, (23 million searches per second) standing out in the crowd is more important than ever. This is the one area your business can’t afford to get it wrong!
Here are some statistics to consider:
- 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. -@econsultancy
- 94% of a user’s first impressions are design-related. – @Veopix
- 73% of consumers access websites on their mobile devices. – @Bond_Group
No offense is intended if you have a nephew or friend who “dabbles in website design”, but this is one area you really should consider hiring a professional. Entrusting your online presence to “someone who can do it really cheap” may save you money now, but will definitely cost you later if it isn’t done right.
Your website not only needs to captivate your audience at a glance, it has to be easy to navigate – and intuitive for visitors to find the information you provide.
Your website visitors have the attention span of a goldfish
Recent studies have shown that more than half of website visitors spend less than 15 seconds on your website. Even less time is spent on average if they are on a mobile device – which is now more than half of all web searches.
If your website isn’t engaging to them in the first few seconds, they’re gone. If you do catch their attention, but your website doesn’t give them the information they need in one or two clicks, they’ll drop out and likely never come back.
There’s more to a website than just good looks
Most folks redesign their website to give a new “fresh” look, but when you’re creating a well-crafted website design, the “look” is actually the last thing that should be considered.
Visitor engagement is much, much deeper than just the “look” – it’s about how RELAVENT you are to what they are looking for. So it’s important to first determine who your target audience is. The age, gender, financial status, location, lifestyle, etc. are all of the things that will help shape the structure and content of your website.
Once you determine your target demographic, you need to focus the imagery, font selection, colors, architecture and “voice” of the website around their needs and tastes.
Getting the Architecture right
Determining what pages are most important will help shape the architecture and “flow” of your website. At a glance, and new visitor should be able to find information on exactly who you are, what you offer and how relevant you are to their search within 5-7 seconds. The next 7-10 seconds will be to find the relevant information and page(s) on your site that they need to make a decision to buy your product or service.
Do your homework
If you have the budget, have your design team develop personas of your target audience, then research and survey to determine the best user experience for that demographic.
Even if you don’t have the budget for research, it’s important to carefully plan the navigation and “flow” of your website before you begin to develop it. Make sure at the very least it’s logical and intuitive for the majority of visitors.
Prioritize what is most important to your business, and make those links the most prominent on the site. If your navigation requires hidden “drop-down” sub-menus, make sure the top-most link is a logical name that describes the category of the links that are found within.
Your website is not the “The Field of Dreams”
If you build it, they’re not going to come – unless you help them find you. Recent data estimates over 1 billion websites are currently hosted worldwide. That is a LOT of competition for ranking on search engines!
Be absolutely clear in describing who you are and what you do in the content of your website. This will help Google and other search engines rank you appropriately, AND help your potential customers clearly determine your relevance to them in the few precious seconds that you have their attention.
Other things to consider
Having a mobile-friendly site is obvious – if you don’t have one, make that a priority. But what other things should you consider?
Below is a checklist of the basic questions you should be asking yourself when considering a new or redesigned website:
- Is your current hosting secure and reliable?
- Do you need secure transactions (i.e. “shopping cart” functionality)?
- Is email going to be integrated, or separate from the website?
- Do you need a secure customer login/portal?
- Do you need Content Management System (CMS) and training to edit your own website? If so, which one will best suit your needs?
- Who is your target audience?
- How is your current Search Engine Ranking?
- Is SEO, tracking, analysis, or CRM (Customer Relation Management) system going to be considered, and if so, which ones best suit your needs?
- Do you have a branding strategy?
- Do you need copywriting and messaging included in the project?
- Do you need new photography or other visual aids to help better explain who you are?
The answers to the above questions will determine some of the decisions that will affect cost and the web platforms that will best suit your needs.
The icing on the cake
The last step in the process is the branding and “look”. If you already have a logo, established fonts and colors for your “brand”, the next part of the process is easier.
Whether your website is for a large corporation, or a small business, it’s important to maintain a consistent brand. Your website should reflect everything that you’ve already established to best represent your company.
The final “Look” of the website should be equally engaging to your visitors – although it’s the final consideration, it is vitally important in enticing your website visitors and drawing them in at a glance.
Invest wisely and the rewards can be great
There is a lot to consider when building a website – you want it done right the first time. There is no second chance to make a first impression, so it’s vital to have a website that your prospective clients will remember for all of the right reasons.
Always hire a reputable design firm, or web developer that can meet your UX, Design AND Development needs.
Resist the temptation when someone you know offers to build you a website “really cheap” – you’ll get what you pay for, and your business will ultimately pay dearly for what you get.