If you’re thinking about creating a new website or if you want more oomph from your existing site, then here are six quick questions we recommend you ask yourself.
First impressions are crucial, so a website needs to have a professional and engaging design. If it looks like it’s from the ugly template bargain bin, then your viewers may well question your online credibility.
1. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Heading fonts and body text fonts should complement each other. Get more than one person to proof your site for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
2. Leave room to breathe. Use white space on the page to draw focus into key areas. Cluttered layouts that cram too many elements into a page come across as badly designed and confusing.
3. Great design. It comes in many shapes and sizes, but we all know it when we see it. Search out web sites that you find visually stimulating and keep them on file, so that when it’s time to design your site you can incorporate their winning design principles.
4. Colour choice. Different colours evoke different moods and atmospheres, so colours should be chosen carefully. Be wary of garish colour combo’s, use an online colour palette tool to pick related colours. Colours already associated with your business are a good place to start, but you don’t have to be bound by them.
5. Check all your links all work. Stumbling across a broken link isn’t just annoying, it’s a sign that the website isn’t up-to-date or properly maintained. Online tools can check whether your links are broken, but you should also go through manually to ensure they’re all pointing to the right place.
Get clarity around precisely who you are targeting and what you want your website to achieve, then develop engaging content. Use quality photographs, video, diagrams, infographics and illustrations.
1. Easy to use. Usability is critical, and broadly defined by things working as the user expects them to. Make sure the next step is always clear, that buttons and links are visually clickable, that information is readily available and that the flow through the website is streamlined and logical.
2. Use compelling photographs. A great picture will immediately attract the viewer. There are many New Zealand and international photo libraries, where you can select from thousands of images.
3. Harness the power of video. Videos are a quick, visual way of explaining ideas and concepts, and have the power to go viral if funny and clever enough. Be careful of low quality execution – it’s better to skip the video trend rather than doing it badly.
4. Have a unique ‘voice’. Write in a style that talks to your target audience. Don’t be afraid to make it personal if the tone suits, and use more ‘you’ and ‘your’, and less ‘us’ and ‘we’. If you aren’t a wordsmith, hire a professional writer. Poor copy is an instant turn-off on any website.
5. Stay up-to-date on tests and functionality. Check your forms and widgets regularly to make sure they’re working – a broken form will cost you precious enquiries and conversions. Get someone who isn’t familiar with the site to run through it to ensure you haven’t overlooked anything.
Make an offer they can’t refuse. For many websites, sales don’t instantly happen on the first visit. Start the conversation by incentivising people to email, phone or submit online forms.
1. Have an incentive. Make the deal a little sweeter with an added value bonus or incentive, usually related to the service you’re selling. E.g. “Book online for 2 nights and receive a free bottle of wine.”
2. Offer discount vouchers to a related service/product. For instance, if you’re an accommodation provider approach local restaurants about giving you discount vouchers. This arrangement benefits both parties, rewarding your customers and giving the restaurant an extra source of customers.
3. Display compelling testimonials. Contact previous satisfied customers and ask if they wouldn’t mind providing a short testimonial. A variety of different writing styles and experiences increases the feeling of authenticity and trust.
4. Be easy to contact. A separate contact or enquiry page is essential and should be easily accessible from anywhere on the site. Put phone numbers on each page, and follow product and service descriptions with a prompt to contact. Online forms can lessen the contact barrier and make enquiries less daunting.
5. Be ready to respond. Once your call to action is successful, you must have a system in place to handle enquiries as soon as they take place. The longer your response time, the less likely the enquiry will convert to a sale.
Install Google Analytics to measure key stats and set up goals. Typical goals track enquiries or sales that occur. Review conversions of visitors to goals and key data such as page views, visitor numbers, popular pages and keywords.
1. Create goals. Once you are set up with a web statistics service such as Google Analytics, you need to know how these stats actually affect your business. Create goals, such as when viewers send an enquiry or make a purchase, so that you can track which sources are generating business.
2. Design a custom report. One of the most useful features of Google Analytics is the ability to create a custom report. Rather than getting one huge barrage of data, you can set it so that you only see the sections and statistics relevant to you, and you can drill down data to view specific demographics and usage rates.
3. Schedule email reports. Google Analytics can be set to email your custom report each month, so that it arrives straight in your inbox with all your key stats. It’s a superb way to regularly remind yourself to check in with your website and monitor vital statistics.
4. Make dashboards for different people. Most businesses will have a number of people in charge of their own particular area. Customised dashboards allow you to create a special window of each of these people, showing them the stats that matter and keeping them updated on site data.
5. Split testing. Some pages will work better than others and you can use Google Analytics data to sort the wheat from the chaff. Look for strong pages and page elements that drive conversions, as well as weak ones that are breaking the chain. Split testing using tools such as Google Analytics’ Content Experience can be a way to test how areas of your site could be improved.
Many people fall into the trap of blowing their budget on the design and development of their website. Put at least as much into marketing as you do into developing your site. Employ a range of different activities that market your site.
1. Start with the SEO basics. You can do a lot for your site just by researching keywords and including them carefully in page titles, meta descriptions and page content. Starting a blog is also a simple way to boost your search engine rankings.
2. Network and build links. When other websites link to you it proves to search engines that your content is popular and/or authoritative. In particular, links from other industry-related sites are valued highly and you should use your business network connections to build them up.
3. Send out email newsletters. Offering an email newsletter with tips, thoughts, opinions and ideas is a great way for ‘top of mind marketing’ to get your business into people’s inboxes. It’s a superb way to keep in touch with existing clients and to entice prospective clients to get in touch with you. The key is that you have to offer something genuinely useful to ensure people don’t unsubscribe.
4. Sign off on your emails with a professional touch. Each week many businesses send out hundreds of emails to clients, prospective clients, suppliers and associates. Adding your website address to the email signature file of all staff emails will make it easier for people to check out your website. It can also be a useful way to promote a new page or special offer.
5. Make content sticky. The most valuable users are the ones with a sense of belonging and loyalty who come back multiple times to your website. Offering news, opinions, practical tips and business ideas on a regular basis is one way to entice people back, as well as creating a community that takes on a life of its own. The million dollar question is, what content can you create on your website that will keep bringing your target audience back time after time?
You need to talk to people that have had extensive web industry experience and a track record of achieving outstanding results. People just like us.
Find this checklist useful? Talk to us about your project and we’ll delve into each point in more detail and help you to develop a winning strategy.