WRITTEN BY: ALISON JOSHI, DIRECTOR OF JWJ DESIGN
For the businesses that I work with having a website is one of the most important investments to make. We spend our lives on the internet, whether it’s on your phone, tablet or computer, we are constantly ‘plugged in’ and not having any web presence can be detrimental to your business. Many small business owners are still a little bit scared of the World Wide Web and I think the problem is the amount of information available which can be very confusing if you are not particularly web savvy.
A website is no longer an investment that needs to be made every 3 to 5 years. You should see your website as a marketing tool that constantly needs to be updated, upgraded and refreshed. A website is an organic structure and it should constantly evolve and change.
Many clients think that once they have a website that’s it, their online work is done. Well actually, the creation of your website is just the beginning. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean that people will automatically find you, you need to do the work to make people find your website, engage in your website and want to return and share your site.
What will it look like?
A website should be designed to impress. Well designed websites exude professionalism and therefore reinforce the value of your brand in the customers mind. Impressive design isn’t always about flashy animation or over complicated scrolling and navigation functions. Clean typography, considered page layouts and the user experience are all important factors.
Think about the type of imagery that will appear on your site. Will you use photography or illustration, or a bit of both? People like to look at imagery and images are great at creating a look and feel for your website. Who is your target audience, are you business to business or business to consumer? Think about the type of imagery that your target audience wants to see and is relevant to your business.
Having a photoshoot to create images for your website is a great investment, but can be costly. Stock image sites are good at bridging that gap but be wary of the clichéd images, you want your website to look different from your competitors and some stock imagery can look cheap.
What will you say?
Studies show that website visitors spend an average of 7 seconds or less on most websites. You need to make sure you convey who you are and what you do on your home page. When someone comes to your website they should know instantly what product or service you provide and if you are what they are looking for. If they want to know more they will click through to the other pages, and that is what you want, higher engagement not just bouncing to another site straight away.
Try to avoid overloading your pages with lots of copy. If you have a lot of content to include then try and break up the paragraphs of copy with bullet points, images and infographics. There is nothing more uninspiring than a page full of text. People will read the top paragraph maybe a bit at the end and then click away from your site. Beautiful infographics to explain your point visually is a lot more inspiring to look at.
What do you want people to do?
Once people have come to your website, what is it that you want your audience to do? Where do you want them to go? Are you trying to make them buy anything or are you just providing information about the services that you provide? Make sure you have clear call to actions, ‘Read more’, ‘Buy Now’, ‘See More’ etc.. Try and avoid ‘Click Here’ as it isn’t very compelling, it doesn’t make you want to click. Also, if the majority of your audience are viewing your site on a mobile or tablet, there is no ‘Click’ action anymore.
For service industries make sure you have your contact details in the footer of your website. An email link and/or phone number at the bottom of every page means people don’t have to search for your contact details. You want people to be able to contact you easily and conveniently.
Does it need to be mobile compatible?
Your website should be mobile friendly, if it isn’t then you need to think about upgrading your site.
When we talk about being mobile compatible, we are not just talking about your website working on a mobile, the content and imagery should re-size and re-order so that people don’t have to zoom in to see the button or text. This is called responsive design. Your website responds by re-shaping itself to get the best user experience. For more detailed analysis on responsive design have a look at this site: Responsive websites
I know I should be on social media but I don’t know why
As a small to medium business social media should be a part of your marketing strategy. It doesn’t matter if its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn or all of them, you need to be engaged with social media. Think about your audience, where do they engage with products or services? But it is not only having a presence on these sites, you need to engage with your audience and upload relevant content to your followers. Content that your audience will want to like, comment and share.
Once you are on social media, add the buttons and feeds to your website. If you ‘tweet’ once a day, your feed on your website will update and therefore your website content is being updated without having to do too much hard work.
As a small business your website is an essential part of your marketing strategy and it is important to give it the attention it deserves. I have really just covered the basics here as I haven’t even mentioned SEO or content management systems but I think I’ll leave that for another time! If you have any questions about what I have talked about here or anything to add then please do comment.