So often a website is treated as a ‘begrudged purchase’

Node4 homepage on ipad

The business owner understands they need to have one to ‘show that they are a viable business’.

This business owner goes to the nearest web company and pays the minimum price and gets the minimum of what is available. Sadly, this has left the World Wide Web full of very sad looking websites, taking up valuable cyber space and hurting the viewer’s eyes.

Or, how about websites that are born from a novice; someone who loves the idea and enjoys building the website. They work on it day and night, pouring over it asking everyone what they think. The problem with this novice is that they’re often very young, driven by enthusiasm rather than any experience in layout or user experience, let alone, business acumen.

Then you get the template delivered websites, some more successful than others. Some of these do-it-yourself website builders really wanted to have the logo in the middle, but couldn’t find out how to do it, so had to leave it on the left. They don’t know how to change some images so they’re left with hearts on a corporate website. Here again, there will be gap of content and flow, not so much that the site builder didn’t think to put it up but more so that they didn’t know how to.

Building a website is not as easy as 1, 2, 3. Any person or company telling you that is trying to sell you something that you most probably will regret. To have a functional, visually pleasing and user friendly website takes an expert and time. Here are some important elements vital to any website:

Working domain name

The aim is to have the same domain name as your company. It is confusing to a client if your company name is Design Genius and your domain name is designersingenius.com. These days it is very common to find a domain name that is available (good luck) to purchase, and then use for your company name. This will help your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your site and synergy of your business.

User-friendly navigation

Content and imagery needs to flow from page to page in an ordered manner that makes sense and should be clearly visible. If you confuse or irritate your clients with dysfunctional navigation they will quickly move on elsewhere. If you have more links than you can fit on your navigation, either use the drop menu (where you have grouped links as a list under the main link) or move less important links into the footer.

Prioritise your content

Place your most important information, for example: what your company does and how you do it, “above the fold”. This term refers to the screen space before you have to start scrolling. In the ‘old days’ (at the birth of internet until about three years ago) websites were designed so that pretty much no scrolling was necessary. Now, with the invention of smart phones and tablets, users are used to, and even expect to scroll – so much so that when a user first opens a site, they instinctively start to scroll (try it yourself). But still the prime real estate on a website is the area above the fold, and this will probably never change.

If your business relies on clients phoning, put that right on top in your header above your navigation. This will mean users can always get hold of you regardless of what page they on as the header is always there, clearly displayed and easily accessed.

Keep it clean

I’m not talking about your language; though that is also a very good point let’s talk about that for a minute. Clients can find it unprofessional or even offensive if you use inappropriate language. If you think you’re off beat and use swear words, you will be blocked off many search engines, specifically if your user has a child filter on their computer. It’s just not worth it, rather keep your language professional at all times.

What I was actually referring to was to get rid of unnecessary clutter, including images and copy. Not only will this optimise the performance of your website, it will look visually pleasing. If your website is rammed with information and clashing colours, a website that could otherwise be exciting and engaging, puts the client off as it seems like a chore in itself to read anything. Have a read of our blog about website content for more information.

Contact information

How frustrating is it when you go to a website and you actually like what you see and would like to pick up the phone and call someone (call me old fashioned) or open your email and white to them? Annoyingly you either can’t find the link, or you can but when you get there all you get is an online form. NO! I don’t want to fill out an online form – I want to have a record of what I wrote and I want to know your actual email address, is that too much to ask…

If a potential client wants to call you and you don’t have a phone number clearly displayed, that may lose you a possible lead. Very large organisations often do this on purpose as they don’t want to be called, especially if they offering a mass services – they keep directing you to some nasty form.

I am not saying don’t have a form, on the contrary, definitely have a form, which is excellent for your websites SEO presence. What I am saying is give you clients a choice, they want to be able to call you, email you, visit you, or just know they can do those things makes them feel more confident about your businesses credibility.

Show that your business is real

Your potential clients are using your website as a substitute to your office reception. They want to know that you are actual people – people want to deal with people even in this age of technology, or maybe because of this technology age. There are so many ways to show your business personality, from your design through to your content.

Don’t underestimate the value of adding images of you and your team, even your office if you operate from one. This shows that you exist in skin and bone or bricks and mortar. This develops trust with the client who will know that you are not a con artist using the web to spread your disease.

Testimonials are also excellent to portray that you are a viable well-liked business (see our blog post about this in more detail). Coming from your current clients who have shared their positive experience with you, is invaluable information to potential clients.

Mobile and tablet friendly websites

We all know that all websites need to be responsive, but they often aren’t. If your website isn’t mobile friendly and your business is goggled on a phone, it is penalized! Unfortunately, if your current website isn’t mobile friendly it will drop in Google’s mobile search results.