Open your website, the window to your business. What do you see?
The advertising you’ve done, the marketing budget you’ve spent, the countless planning meetings your team has attended—all that time and money you’ve invested has driven a potential customer to your website.
Now is the moment.
After months—maybe years—of effort, your potential customer will make their decision in seconds.
They may love what they see and continue to be interested. Or they may leave, with their memory of you going up in smoke and your investment with it.
That’s why it’s so important to build an effective website.
Framing a website to contain everything you need is challenging. Some websites become too word-heavy, while others lack structure and narrative.
Getting your website right from the beginning can save you a lot of pain in the long run.
Here’s our tips to tackling website mistakes.
What do you expect your website to do for you? You want this investment to count, so be informed, decide what you need and be intentional with your allocated budget. There are only two options—either start with careful planning and consultation and spend a realistic budget, or jump in with assumptions … and experience scope-creep, frustration and the need to pour more money in later. Your time and money (and sanity) are too valuable to waste on option two. So, choose wisely.
It’s also important to understand the purpose of your website. A website for a website’s sake helps no-one. Your business is unique so your website should be, too. Make it crystal clear—state who you are, what you do and what you promise your customers. Set yourself up for success by providing your developer with a clear website purpose, an informed plan and a predetermined budget.
Analytics, metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs)—they’re all clever ways to study the website user journey. What do you need your website to achieve? This will depend on what kind of product or service you offer and the kind of experience you want to create for the user. Lay out your objectives and match them with KPIs.
There are plenty of ways to get insight into your website. Consider bounce rates, session duration or pages per session metrics. Or you could sharpen your content strategy by watching goal conversion rates of passive to active website users. Understanding your metrics and the goals you want to achieve will also help you to understand how your website interacts with its digital ecosystem.
It might be about you, but the website isn’t for you. Optimising your website starts with learning what your users are responding well to. How are they getting to your website? What kind of content are they reading? When do they read it? How long are they staying?
By understanding your metrics you can shape a truly effective website experience for your customers. It’s all in the detail—from content creation to search engine optimisation (we have some helpful tips here).
Your website is where your potential customers will go to check your credibility. Credibility is about trust. One way to build trust is to position yourself and your organisation as experts. However, credibility isn’t just about what you know—it’s about who you are. Include stories and testimonials about you and your organisation to avoid information overload. Then, potential customers will leave your website satisfied that you can be trusted … and they’re one step closer to doing business with you.
Many people complain about feeling lost on websites. The customer journey should be clear. If the information on your website is simple and structured, you can guide visitors on the path you’d like them to take. Use tabs and sub-pages for different categories, and make it logical. For best results, spend time studying user movements and running trials and tests. Over time your predictions will become more accurate as you get to know your audience.
Capture your customers quickly. As we’ve previously discussed in our Writing for (readable) web article, there are some hallmarks we use when writing web copy for our clients. Here are a few of them:
How does your website display on mobile devices and tablets? Due to the growth in user visits from non-desktop devices, it’s now safe to say that an unresponsive website—regardless of your industry and demographic—will cost you customers and revenue. When your website isn’t responsive, your customers won’t look for the closest desktop computer … they’ll look for another website. Instead, make your website as friendly as possible to give your customers the same quality of experience online that they experience offline.
Looking for inspiration? Here are some recent websites we’ve designed and built.