Websites are just as important as a brick and mortar store location, and in some cases, they replace them (think e-Commerce sites). This is why it is so important to have a website and keep it modern when you update or develop it.
The importance of an updated website in today’s market
Websites usually have a lifespan of a few years before parts of it, if not the whole thing, becomes obsolete. If your business hasn’t changed anything on the website in the last 2 or 3 years, it will probably need a few changes. Try not to look at it as a burden, but an opportunity to capture the attention of a potential customer and turn them into a paying customer.
Businesses that don’t have a website will have trouble keeping up with the market compared to a business that takes a serious interest in their website. A business that invests resources into a website will have a significant advantage in the market over a business that either doesn’t have a website or a business that does not care to update their website.
We’ve all seen it, a website that looks like it was developed in 1995 and hasn’t been touched since. Meant to be viewed on small screens now being viewed on big screen computer monitors with high resolution screens. Although the business is completely legitimate, the credibility of business is compromised because of the brand it gives off based on the online presence.
This is why it’s important to develop and update your business’ website frequently. Here are 5 tips to consider when developing or updating your business’ website.
1. Design the Website to be Easy to Navigate
When designing your business’ website, you want to make it as easy for your customers as possible. Think of your website as a brick and mortar storefront. If it were a retail space, you would want your hot ticket items right when you walk in the door. You’d strategically place all of the other items based on sales, popularity, and your company’s bottom line.
While your website might not be selling products (although some will be if you’re designing an ecommerce website), position the information like it were products in a storefront. If your company’s “About Us” is what you think is most important for customers to read, feature that information first. If you think testimonials are a key factor in a customer’s buying process, make sure to feature that on your homepage in an obvious way.
Here is an example of an easy to navigate website homepage (www.enchanteddestinations.net):
As you can see, they make it clear what they do — they want to help people find their dream vacation. The menu on the top clearly maps out who they company is with an “About Us” page, you can meet their employees on the “Our Staff” page, you can see everything they do on the “Services” page, you can check out the sale items on the “Promotions” page, and lastly you reach them on the “Contact” page.
If you click the “BEGIN” arrow on the middle of the home page it will take you to the next page scrolled down below the fold which looks like this:
When you hover over any of these 4 options they turn to color and pop out on the screen. This is similar to the example given earlier, if you were to walk into a brick and mortar storefront what would be your featured items. On this website they feature Orlando Vacations, Disney Vacations, Cruises, and Caribbean Vacations.
An easy to navigate website is going to yield much better results with customer interactions online. The goal of a website is to convert potential customers into paying customers, navigation on a website is an important part in that process.
2. Make Sure to Build a Responsive Website
In 2020 it is reported that 61% of Google searches were performed on a mobile device (Statista). Over half of all website traffic is from a mobile device. It is very important to create a Responsive Website when in the design process.
Customers have different smartphones (iPhone, Galaxy, Pixel, etc.) and all of these phones are slightly different sizes. There are also users who visit websites on a tablet, desktop, and now even smart TVs. A Responsive Website is going to allow your website to adapt its size depending on what screen it is being viewed from.
It may be in your business’ best interest to design a site from a mobile perspective first, then work back to the desktop design. You can expect that most traffic is going to be viewed from a smartphone, it would make sense that the main design starts from that view as well.
Here is an example of a mobile designed responsive website (www.thedogstop.com):
Here is that same website viewed on a desktop:
As you can see, no matter if you are viewing on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet you will get a clean design that has adapted to the size of your screen. This will increase customer experience on your website and help convert those potential customers to paying customers.
3. Consider an Easy to Use CMS
A Content Management System (CMS) is going to be a decision you will have to make when designing your website. A CMS is a software application which allows its users to develop and maintain a website without having knowledge on any coding or backend web design.
A lot of times, if you’re having a third party develop a website for you they will choose their preferred CMS to work from. The majority of informative websites will use WordPress. WordPress is a CMS that is incredibly easy to use and make changes to a website. Whether you are working independently on the website or collaborating with a team to make constant changes, WordPress (or an easy CMS like it) is going to be your best option.
An easy CMS like WordPress makes routine changes to your website as easy as typing in a Microsoft Word document. Here is an example of how you can click on a portion of the website in WordPress, make the changes you desire, and save it. It is as easy as that.
It is strongly recommended to use WordPress if you don’t know much about coding and prefer an easy to use User Interface when making changes after the development of the website. You and your team will be thankful for this step!
4. Feature as Many Call to Actions as Possible
A Call to Action (CTA) in terms of marketing and advertising prompts someone to take action. In terms of website development this could be in the form of a phone number, a contact form, a “buy now” button, a “Learn More” button, etc.
Call to Actions are very important when designing your website. Of course you don’t want to look like a European Hockey player’s uniform with an overload of ads, or in this case, CTAs. You will want to design your website as tactfully as possible, but make it as easy as possible for a potential customer to take action on your website.
Below is an example of a website that includes call to actions tactfully, but creates many opportunities for a customer to create a conversion. As you see below the homepage has 3 clickable Call To Action buttons on the right side. They are subtle, but they pop out enough to get your attention. There is also a non-clickable CTA to remind people about the races happening at 12:45PM four days per week.
When you continue to scroll through the website you’ll find the next sections has multiple Call to Action buttons. The three buttons on the right side stay there as you scroll through the website. Additionally, this portion of the page allows you to click on a bright pink “Bet Now” button, or you can complete a form to gather more information about upcoming races (more opportunities to convert a customer).
Finally, right below this portion is the final part of the website’s homepage. This you’ll see continues to show the three call to action buttons on the right side of the website. It also features three buttons to either teach you how to bet, show the nearby attractions to the racetrack, and finally share the racing calendar. Below that is another area to input your email address to gather more information about the races where the CTA is “SIGN UP NOW TO GET OUR EXCLUSIVE CONTENT.”
This website is a great example of how to design a website that is clean, but still offers multiple opportunities for a customer to take action. This sleek design of a website subtly features 16 different CTAs on 3 portions of the website, and it is not intrusive to the average customer viewing the website. This should be a goal of every design.
5. Stick to Your Brand and Image
Last but not least, Stick to your Brand and Image when designing your website. Every industry, and every business is going to have a different “vibe” when it comes to branding. If you’re an outdoor power sports company selling motorcycles, your business’ website is going to have a much different brand than a senior living community in rural Pennsylvania.
Make sure you understand the brand and image your company is trying to match, and design your website around that.
Below is an example of an auto group that owns two Lexus dealerships in Pittsburgh. Their homepage has a classy feel with the multicolored vehicle models, and a pretty backdrop of the city the dealerships are located. This is a great example of matching a business’ website with their brand and image.
Here is another example of a website which kept branding in mind when designing their homepage. They are an industrial company, and wanted to create a website that positioned their brand and image to match the industry they worked within.
To Wrap Things Up
Designing a website doesn’t need to be difficult, but thoughtfully designing a website takes time and effort. There is a big difference between a website that’s built out of necessity and a website that is built with a purpose. That purpose should be to convert potential customers into paying customers.
If you follow these five key guidelines, you will not be disappointed with the end product:
- Design the Website to be Easy to Navigate
- Make Sure to Build a Responsive Website
- Consider an Easy to Use CMS
- Feature as many Call to Actions as Possible
- Stick to your Brand and Image
Good luck and enjoy the process!