In a post-lockdown age where more people are using the internet than ever before, now is the perfect time to capitalise on the huge digital audience and build an online presence.
With no less than 99% of adults aged 16 to 44 regularly surfing the web, you really don’t want the age-old phrase ‘If you’re not online you don’t exist’ to apply to your business or brand. If no one can find you online, you’re potentially missing out on a lot of customers…and sales.
So if you’re keen to move your business online, here are our top 5 tips for ensuring that the predicted grade for your website project is a bona fide A for awesome!
1. Set clear goals
First up, it’s important to define the purpose of your site. What is the main business goal you’d like your website to achieve? To help here’s a quick rundown of the most common reasons businesses and brands move online.
Once they’re on your site and you’ve got their interest you have to give visitors a way to let you know they’re interested. That’s where the indispensable ‘Call To Action’ enters stage left. A call to action is essentially an invitation for the visitor to your site to take the next step and engage further with your brand.
This could be as simple as getting in touch with you to arrange a call, zoom chat, or (lockdown-permitting) a face-to-face meeting. Alternatively, the call-to-action can be more specific. Maybe you’d like them to sign up to a newsletter or blog, attend a webinar or event, or download a brochure or further information. Whatever the reason, by inputting their data they’re investing deeper in your brand and you’re generating leads.
Think of your website as an essential element of your sales process. Designed well it can be a vital component of the customer journey, transforming them from a browser to buyer and boosting your sales. If sales is your main goal, an e-commerce website is the solution as they’re designed to make the process as quick and painless as possible for the visitor.
This is achieved through a profitable mix of a simple user journey, a quick and easy checkout process (with built-in functionality for online payment options), and mobile-ready design. Talking of which, here’s our guide to making mobile web design a hit with users. Other things to consider are adding incentives to buy (such as money-saving voucher codes), ways to reduce abandoned baskets, and persuading past buyers to make another purchase.
Build your brand
A website is an online shop window. As such, it’s the perfect way to showcase who you are, what you do, and how well you do it. Done well, it can be an extension of your brand mirroring your company’s visual look, design style, and tone of voice. The key is to keep the user in mind throughout the site and try and persuade them of how they will benefit from your brand.
Two of the best ways to communicate this – and build trust – is via social proof (customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies) and by proudly shouting from the rooftops about any awards and recognition you’ve gained. Give them every reason to believe in you. After all, this could be your one chance to grab their attention and persuade them you’re the ideal solution to their problem.
A brochure site
As the name suggests, this is essentially an online version of a physical brochure traditionally used to market a business. They give a brochure-sized overview of your company and services. As such, they’re relatively small from a website perspective so it’s vital that the information you include is targeted, succinct, and persuasive.
Ideally, it will showcase your background, specialist areas, and your reputation. Brochure sites can also include brand videos, a portfolio of your greatest hits, and customer testimonials. It’s there to give you an online presence and convince visitors that you’re the company for them.
2. UX Design
Your website is for your customers or clients so the design should have one clear focus: the end-user and their needs. That’s why a successful web design project should focus on the UX, which, in a nutshell, is the experience a user has while using the website. To help optimise the user experience and nurture the customer’s relationship with your brand, the UX design process should include the following elements.
Consider each step of the route from a prospective customer to conversion by putting yourself in a typical user’s shoes and following that scenario from problem to solution. Consider their goals, thoughts and emotions as they seek a solution to their problem, and then list the ways in which introducing your brand to the mix can lead to a positive outcome. Not only does this help you pre-empt user thoughts and questions, but it ensures your site remains one step ahead of the user.
Once you’ve walked the customer journey, you’ll be ready to map it out in what’s known as a user flow. This is a visual diagram that displays the user’s movement through your website from the moment they land on the site until they leave. It details all the paths they could choose while navigating your site and highlights where those paths end. Plotting the user flow in this way allows you to ensure that every pathway ends with your main business goal in mind, and include a call to action or purchase point.
If UX design is all about giving users a positive experience, the last thing you want is a website that is tricky to navigate or complicated to use. After all, research suggests you’ve got just 15 seconds to catch a user’s attention. Information Architecture (IA) is the science of structuring your website’s content in a clear, easy-to-understand way. Used both in new website design and website re-design, it’s a way to quickly and easily guide users to complete their customer journey.
3. Content Strategy
Once you’ve decided upon the main business goal of your website, it’s time to choose what type of content will help you achieve that goal. This is usually a collaborative effort between yourself and your chosen web design agency. You’ll have vital intel about your typical customer and your agency will have insider knowledge of the tools on offer to best target them. Most websites include a mix of sales pages, SEO content (such as articles or blog posts) to attract visitors organically, and lead magnets (gated content that users can download in exchange for their email address).
It’s important to plan this upfront as having a structured table of contents allows you to pinpoint exactly what content needs to be collated, and decide whose responsibility it is to create said content in time for launch.
If the technical side of web design and terms such as ‘CSS framework’ and ‘DHTML’ send shivers down your spine, don’t worry! That’s what your web design agency is for. You don’t need to know which technology you require, just the technical requirements you’d like on your site, such as:
- Lead capture forms
- Newsletter sign-up buttons
- Social media feeds
- Sharing buttons
Your agency will then factor these in when planning the project and bring your needs to life using the most suitable technology.
5. Promoting the site
Once your website is ready to launch, it’s time to go all out promoting it. Here are some great ways to drive traffic to your site and let potential customers know that ‘you are online and you do exist’!
One of the easiest (and least expensive) ways to make a noise within your specialist area is to write guest articles on other websites. If the reader likes your blog they may want to find out more about your company so follow the handy backlink to your website. Establishing your company as a thought leader in this way will strengthen your standing as a trusted voice, and drive traffic to your site.
Social ad campaigns
When you want to quickly reach your target audience, social media advertising is hard to beat. With so many social networks to choose from it’s important to target the ones that are a natural fit for your customers and your content. Facebook advertising, in particular, let’s you drill down to target key demographics and focus on different campaign objectives such as awareness, consideration, and conversion.
Who better to explain Google Ads than Google? So, we quote, “Google Ads makes it easy to show the world what’s unique about your business, so you can reach customers searching for what you offer.” Their Smart campaigns let you align targeted ads with your business goal. They then use information within Google to continuously monitor the performance of your ad campaigns and improve your performance.
A public relations agency can boost your website’s reach in a variety of ways including getting your website featured in print or online. This can be achieved by promoting your website’s launch (particularly if there’s budget for a launch party) or by getting your brand featured in print as a solution to a problem, or by having a representative from your company featured as an expert in a newspaper or magazine article.
The final, and arguably most important, step to take your website project from kickoff to awesome, is to choose the right web design agency for you. We like to think that’s where we come in! We believe that communication and trust are the foundations of an awesome web design project so would love to find out more about you and your brand. Fancy a chat?