Everyone knows you need a website. But do you know what a high quality, effective website needs? With a 101 different plugins, platforms, and styling options, how do you know the best way to get your brand’s message across? After all, at the end of the day, a website is a tool for you to bring your brand’s voice to the digital realm. You need to be sure it accurately reflects your business and where it is heading. Done correctly, your website is essentially the most important member of your team. Here are the top 5 things that can make or break your new website.
1. What are my core competencies as a company?
Before you can start building a website, you need to know what you excel at and what differentiates you from your competitors. This is what drives your website and drives people to your website. It is easy to do everything, but it is much harder to define your business’s core competencies and focus solely on bringing those values to your customers. Chances are, if it isn’t your core competency, someone is already doing it, and possibly doing it better than you. If it isn’t something that brings value to your brand, why go through the extra work of building it from the ground up? If you are a real estate company, focus on how to best present listing information and contacts for users, don’t try to be a tourism agency – provide a link to a reputable one and let them do all the work for you!
2. What do my customers need?
It is easy to do everything but, like core competencies, it is much harder to focus on what your customers actually find value in. Do you know which marketing campaigns are having better results than others? Do you know the top five reasons that your customers contact customer service? How about the way an average customer uses your product and the lifecycle of that product? Or the persona of your average, or target, customer? By focusing on overall processes, needs, and wants rather than specific website functionalities, you will be more open to unique methods of meeting customer needs.
Once you know which options you want to offer your customers, make sure there is a clear path, or funnel, for them within your website. If you have an existing website, do you know what paths your customers are using? Do you know what pages hold their attention and why? Remember, don’t focus on an individual customer, focus on the overall needs of your customers, otherwise it is all too easy to create a website with too many pages where no one can find what they are looking for.
3. What is my company culture?
Each and every company is unique. If you don’t differentiate from your competitors, your business can’t thrive. What makes you special? Do you have a specific brand image? How about an organizational culture that guides internal decisions and employee behaviors? This differentiation and focus is important for your website as well. If your company prides itself on being professional, you may not want relaxed, overly colorful images and designs on your website. If you pride yourself on being approachable and fun, the opposite may be true.
4. Do I have professional images and relevant content?
Fundamentally, a website is an image driven marketing tool. Even with the most up to date functionality, if populated with dated or poorly taken photos, the result is a subpar website experience for users. Everyone knows at least one cell phone “photographer”. While those images may hold their own for personal social media, when used as the center piece of a corporate website, they simply fall short. Stock photos are a popular choice for businesses trying to get high quality images on a budget. While these images can be rendered at the high resolutions demanded by websites, they are not unique to your business. Nothing makes a website seem more formulated and stale than being populated by all too familiar images. Make sure you have high quality professional images of your business and local community (if your image includes your location) to personalize your company and engage users.
Images make an instant impression on users; content is what makes your website useful to them. Your content should be concise and clear. No one wants to spend the time reading three pages of information that could be contained in a single paragraph. Likewise, be clear. Customers are visiting your website because they need information of some kind. Whether is the price of an item, your location, or how to contact you, make sure this information is easy to find and clearly defined.
5. What is my post launch plan?
Remember, your website launch is the first step in a process, not the final one. You can build the most functional and beautiful website, but it won’t do you any good unless potential users can find it. Your website launch needs to be part of a larger marketing plan If you have an existing website, you may have a leg up since your website URL has built in authority. But chances are, if your website was in need of a remodel, it was not experiencing the highest traffic. Likewise, any website needs to be linked to Social Media.
Any reputable digital marketing agency should provide you with at least some onsite Search Engine Optimization (SEO) during your initial website programming. However, SEO normally takes several months to reach full effect and there are some tricks to the trade that simply cannot be completed on your website itself. If your website is new, or in a competitive field, you may also want to institute a Pay Per Click campaign to enhance your visibility before organic SEO can take effect.
Finally, a website needs to be consistently updated. Not only will routine updates keep your rankings up for the search engines, it will also ensure that your end users find something of value every time they visit.
If you are in need of a new website, or a website re-brand, contact us today for a free consultation!