You may think that having an online presence is the beginning and end of your digital marketing strategy. You’d be quite wrong, however, because your website has to meet certain standards if it’s going to successfully drive your business forward. Getting your website up and running and persuading people to visit in the first place is only the very beginning of the process. You can safely assume, after all, that your competitors are doing the same as the bare minimum. Your website has to be designed and built in such a manner that any visitors, once they clicked through to the site, will want to stay around and explore.
Not only that, but they’ll return on multiple occasions and they’ll share links to your site with friends and acquaintances. All of which is easy to set down in black and white but extremely difficult to achieve. The good news is that it is possible, with the right advice and input, the main proviso being that it is a long term project. Your initial site needs to be user friendly and simple to navigate, with instinctive controls that make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for. It then needs to be managed in a manner which maintains this excellence and responds to any changes in technology or the wider business environment.
The following are a few basic tips which, if needed, should help your business, no matter what size and type it is, achieve the online presence it needs:
Know What You’re Aiming For
Before you sit down to start creating your website, ask yourself very clearly exactly what it’s intended to achieve. Some sites are built with e-commerce in mind, others as an extension of a wider branding effort or as a call to action for people to contact you. The intention of the website has to play a part in every decision you make about its design. If you have a clear vision from the outset, you’ll be building on the firmest possible foundations.
Learn From the Best
Take a look at the websites you particularly enjoy and ask yourself how they do it. It might be a visual approach, a navigational trick or the kind of content they offer. It’s not a question of copying other sites, but merely of drawing inspiration from them. Take the examples they offer and apply them through the filter of your own vision for your business.
Get the Colours Right
Choosing the colour palette for your site is about more than simple aesthetics. Different colours have particular associations, in emotional and sociological terms. Some seem obvious, such as black being serious and white representing freshness, but what you have to remember is that the web is a global platform. Different colours have different wider meanings in various parts of the world, so make sure you’ve considered the message of your colour choices on a world-wide basis before making your final decision.
Maintain a Consistent Brand
Your brand is the image of your business that you present to the world. It conveys, in the clearest manner possible, the ‘personality’ of your business – who you are, what you do and how you do it – and should be able to capture the attention of potential customers in a fraction of a second. Creating a strong brand is a difficult process, and if you’ve worked hard to get it just right it’s absolutely vital that you apply that branding across every available platform. That means all of your social media output and any printed ‘real world’ content as well as your online presence has to share that branding, in terms of your visual appeal and the tone of voice you use in any written communication. Consistency of this kind won’t just reinforce your brand message, it will cement your reputation as a professional and trustworthy organisation.
Responsive design – meaning your site works as well on mobile devices as it does on desktop – is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. People want to be able to access online content no matter where they are, and if that means a site that loads and runs equally smoothly on smartphones, tablets, iPhones and laptops then that’s what you have to offer. It isn’t just a question of user friendliness, either, since Google now use responsiveness as one of the ways in which they rank websites. If your site isn’t responsive, then, it won’t get found on Google, and even if it does get found, any visitors will quickly lose patience with it.
It’s natural that you view your business from the point of view of your own experience, knowledge and expertise, but you have to remember that your customers – and prospective customers – have a completely different point outlook. It’s vital, therefore, to put yourself in your clients’ position when reviewing the design and content of your blog. What will they be looking for and how easily will they be able to find it? What solutions are you offering to the problems they present with? Use the answers to these questions as key pointers to effective design.
Maintain the Links
If the links on your site don’t work it can have a disastrous impact. Visitors will assume the failure is down to poor management and maintenance, and will doubtless conclude that, if you’re not professional enough to look after your own online presence, you’re not professional enough to do business with. The same broken links can also impact negatively on your search engine rankings. The truth is that even if links were coded properly when the site was first launched, they can begin to fail as time passes, so it’s vital to make use on an HTML validator and link checker on a regular basis.
Make it very easy for visitors to your site to contact you, by offering as many options as possible – i.e. email, phone, twitter, Facebook etc. Making contact easy is only half of the battle, however, since responding to any contact quickly and effectively will do a great deal toward building long term customer or client loyalty.
There may be a temptation to save money by handling your online requirements in-house. If you use the services of professional experts in fields like marketing, web design, graphics and online development, however, it won’t be an expense, it will be an investment. Work with the right people and the money you invest in your website will be recouped many times over. The rest of these tips are all highly effective, but they’re also the kind of things any experienced professional will bring to your business as a basic requirement. A professional web design company will know exactly how to set about transforming your online presence.