(And what it should say)
We’ve all been there; you’re excited about a new company or product, or maybe you’re applying for a new job and want to check out the company before committing. You’re searching for more information, so what’s the first thing you do? You visit a website. Whether you’re sleuthing a potential new tool, investigating a competitor, or simply browsing around in a fit of boredom, chances are you visit websites quite often – they’re ubiquitous! – which is why it’s more important than ever to have a killer site representing your brand and business.
First impressions are everything, especially in today’s highly saturated and competitive environment. It’s someone’s introduction to your brand – like the business card of modern technology – so it needs to be a great experience; otherwise, your prospect may pass you over for the competition.
There can be a lot of pressure and confusion around setting up a good professional website, after all, it’s meant to represent YOU, so naturally, you want it to be perfect. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when setting up or improving a website, and what you can do if yours doesn’t adhere to these standards.
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It may seem like common sense, but good website navigation is one of the most important aspects of a quality website design. Think about it this way, you don’t want your site visitors to have to figure out how to use your site, you want it to be intuitive. Their journey around your page should be well thought out and choreographed based on the journey you want them to take; tell them where to go so that you can show them exactly what you want!
- Cryptic and confusing menus with no clear structure or flow.
- An overwhelming number of choices and options, creating confusion and communicating a general lack of planning.
- An illogical setup that isn’t in-line with your buyer persona or what you want to express about your brand.
- Clunky or out-of-date design that leads to unnecessary difficulty when finding things on the site.
- Your navigation bar is concise and free from clutter, and any menus you have are straightforward and easy to follow.
- The buyer’s journey is intuitive and purposeful, with no excess information or choices beyond what is necessary.
- An architecture that’s based around your target audience, your brand goals, and the content you might create in the future.
- Modern, responsive design that keeps up with trends and communicates that you care. It tells potential customers that you are paying attention to your field and adjusting accordingly.
Branding and Appearance
Branding is at the core of your business; it’s the essence of who you are and what you want that to mean to the world. Your brand is something you should have well-defined before even starting your website design since it’s central to everything you do – from the conversations you have to the content you publish.
Your website is the first thing a potential buyer is going to look at, so make sure that the appearance – the font, images, logo design, even the type of language and voice that you use – coincides with your brand.
- Your design is generic, you use obvious stock images with no weight behind them, and your color scheme is random, out of place, or non-existent.
- The tone and feel of your content changes drastically from page-to-page, communicating a lack of planning or focus.
- Your web copy feels forced, generic, or simply out of place.
- Your logo doesn’t fit in.
- Your website does little to reflect your business or the message you’re trying to send.
- You’ve either customized your design in-house or hired a company to do so, but it’s tailored perfectly to your brand colors, fonts, and graphics, and reflects exactly who and what you want your business to be.
- Your voice is confident and consistent. It is obvious that you are a thought leader in your area of specialty and your content always delivers value and purpose.
- The copy on your site is clearly written by someone who understands your brand well and can articulate your purpose. It isn’t overly wordy and helps carry a site visitor along in their journey without any extra fluff or jargon.
- Your logo is a professional representation of your business; an embodiment of the company’s mission, values, and culture rolled into one graphic.
- Your website lets visitors know exactly who you are and what they can gain from interacting with you. It is branded well and is something you proudly share within your community.
Your website will do nothing for you if it doesn’t work. If it’s slow to load, isn’t mobile-friendly, or if it’s generally not easy to use, people are going to click away just as soon as they came in. Regardless of changes in design trends and technology, these core aspects remain important and it’s easy to see why.
Forty percent of people say that they’ll abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load (source) and 56 percent of people access websites from their phone, rather than a desktop computer (source). Simply put, if your website doesn’t work well people aren’t going to want to use it.
- Your site has so much going on that it takes ages to load.
- On the desktop your site looks great, but it isn’t mobile optimized and information is lost when people access it from their smartphones and devices.
- Your visitors aren’t sure where to find the information they’re looking for and spend too much time navigating its layered, complex structure.
- Your domain hosting service is rock solid and you’ve reduced plugins, custom applications, media, and anything else slowing down your load speeds so that your site is lightning quick – on the homepage and anywhere else a user might be landing.
- Your whole site shows on a mobile device. Information is readily available and easily digested in the smaller formatting. If your hosting platform didn’t have this feature built in naturally, you employed the help of experts to make sure that your customers could find you from anywhere.
- Simple is better in today’s website trends. Your site is free of clunky layering, unnecessary add-ons or pages that distract from the real purpose of the site. A visitor knows exactly where to begin on the site and exactly where their journey ends. There are clear calls to action, contact information is easy to find, and important details like pricing and testimonials aren’t hidden away.
If you put a genuine focus on making your site good for your target audience, you’re guaranteed to increase traffic, secure more conversions, and inevitably land more sales. With so many countless resources available for improving your site there’s really no reason not to make a few changes if you feel that the time has come.
Take back the control and make sure your website says exactly what you want it to say about your business.