Free tips for a great Website
The Internet is full of awkward and poorly designed websites, and I’m not just talking about those the look and feel. There are many other key elements that make a customer-friendly website that is informative and easy to use – not to mention something that inspires the user (prospective client) to actually do business with you.
A clear description of who you are and what you do is imperative
For someone that stumbles upon your website. They shouldn’t have to do investigative work to figure out what, exactly, it is that you do. That means clearly stating your name and summing up your products or services right on the homepage.
Its important to tell people that they have arrived at the right website they have been searching for. A clear description will attract visitor’s attention immediately, its important to achieve this with 2-3 seconds, and the content should encourage them to stay on your website longer.
Make you web address simple and relevant - don’t over complicate it.
Your domain name (URL) is a key part of your brand. It should be easy for a user to type it into a Web browser, smart phone or an e-mail address.
Ideally we would recommend a .com domain as users are conditioned to type that extension and can give the impression of being a global business, however if your business is focused on the UK market then ensure you at least have the .co.uk domain. For non-profits or organisations, we would usually recommend using a .org domain for branding purposes, but also recommend having a .com version of the domain in case a user accidentally types the .com address. To keep the brand consistent you can redirect the .com to the .org domain.
Where possible avoid putting dashes in your domain, this can potentially cause SEO headaches and also numbers, these have the potential to cause confusion for potential customers.
Be sure to implement an easily-navigated site map
Clear links to the most important pages, and a site map, are crucial for guiding potential customers to the information they’re looking for quickly.
Ensure your navigation is clearly laid out. We always recommend using dropdowns in the main navigation menu so the potential customers can see the content under every heading from virtually any page. Making it very easy for your visitors to find what they are looking for, or what you want them to know.
Easy-to-find contact information
Its surprising how many websites today hide their contact information. You wouldn’t want to lose a customer to a competitor just because you made it difficult for them to get in touch with you?
Unfortunately not every online visitor has the patience to click through every page on your website to find the contact information.
The best place for the contact information is the top left or top right corner of the home page. Visitor’s eyes are instantly drawn to it. It is also a good practice to include contact information in every page of the website in the footer or side bar or even in top right corner, which helps the visitors to find it more easily. This is particularly relevant if you are a local business and this helps search engines identify the services you provide in the location you provide them.
You should also be sure to include several ways for them to contact you – Obviously a phone number, a standard contact form, and e-mail. Don’t forget to put an email address on there as you would be surprised how many people are put off enquiring by the ‘oh so helpful’ contact form! Don’t forget to include your address and if appropriate and a link to Google maps especially if you are a local business.
A big mistake many business owners make is to force visitors to only contact them in one way. The point of a website is to make it very easy for potential customers to locate and communicate with you on their terms.
Honest words from others help make your products or services more tangible to customers who are visiting you online.
They help your potential customers to build trust in you, especially if you are new. They help potential buyers to confirm whether the product or services meet their needs.
People love to hear stories from real people. They help people find out other things you haven’t said on your website. If you’re new don’t go down the route of making these up, you will get found out! Instead refer back to work that you may have completed in full time employment and ask previous customers/employers to provide you with a reference.
An obvious call to action
Politely tell your visitors literally what you want them to do with a clear, concise message. For example you may want them to call you now for free quote, or sign up to your exclusive newsletter, or add products to the online shopping cart, etc.
Call attention to your suggestion — by using special buttons, images or highlighting the text.
Get to know the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Your website won’t do you as much good if no one can find or stumble upon it. Become familiar with the SEO basics to make it more accessible by search engines. We will publish some basic SEO tips in our next blog.
It can be perceived as a bit of a black art, but you don’t need to employ mysterious, ninja, black hat SEO types to rank well on the search engines. Simply make sure your website is coded correctly and the website is regularly updated.
That means using the correct keywords throughout your text, putting in plenty of links to and from other websites/directories, naming your page titles and URLs correctly, and employing the magic of images and videos.
The key to SEO is fresh, quality content
For many businesses, your website is your first impression or shop window to a customer. You want to give them what they’re looking for, and ideally give them a reason to keep coming back.
When a user stumbles or searches for your website they are looking for something. Make sure you give it to them, particularly if you are using specific search terms. If they are looking for ‘CCTV installation’ be sure to send them directly to the page on your website that holds that information! Don’t send them to the home page where they will need to navigate to the information, give it to them immediately and be sure your content is original, well written and valuable.
Fresh regular content is a must for good SEO. You can keep your content from getting stale (and give your company some personality, too) by incorporating a regularly updated blog or connecting in your social media feeds.
A secure hosting platform
Having your online information hijacked is a nightmare, and, should it happen to your business, it could cost you customers and your reputation.
It is imperative that you have a secure, trustworthy hosting company to keep the bad guys out and your content and customer data up and running. It is also very important to keep your content management system updated in order to stay one step ahead of the hackers. Most web domain hosting companies now take care of this for you. Remember if you are storing customer data it should comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.
A design and style that’s friendly to online readers
Web surfers have the attention span of a drunken gnat.”
Online visitors often scan through a Web page to sample the content first when they open a new Web page. If they feel like they are on the right page, they will slow down to read the full story. To enhance user’s experience on your website, you need to organise the content for easy scanning.
We recommend three style points for online writing:
- Break things down into short paragraphs, with relevant headers to guide the visitor through the experience. Don’t have all the detail on one page, entice the visitor to click through to obtain more content.
- Use bullet points.
- If you want to draw their attention to a certain point, highlight those important words or phrases.
With design simplicity and basic colors are the best bet but make sure that the page isn’t too busy with images. Content is the key, punctuated with striking images.