Viewpoints heart Make Your Website Work

Is your website helping you grow your business?

Successful websites are designed to drive traffic, attention and importantly, create action.

Your website should be a major team player in your lineup, supporting your business objectives. Websites serve many purposes but a primary function is to be an effective extension of your sales team.

Your site can attract qualified visitors, provide hyper relevant information and showcase an excellent ‘sample experience’ of what doing business with you is like. Your site should be professional and effective and importantly, have the ability to evolve and scale right alongside your business.

The process for building a dynamic website that will drive your business forward involves deliberate planning along with changing the way you think about your website.

Is your website fit for purpose?

Build an effective website.

If you are in the process of designing and building a new site, you can apply the basic best practices to ensure both efficacy and longevity. Your digital presence needs to accurately reflect your business mission and your offer at every point in time. Accordingly, you must be mindful of a number of important planning considerations to ensure that your site is built for optimum performance as well as the ability to scale, shift, adapt and grow alongside your business.

1. Professional, with consistent information hierarchy

Ensure your site is professionally designed and developed, to help build credibility for your business. Your site design and information hierarchy should be considerate of your industry and audience. Information should be clearly organized.

2. Design for clarity of your offer - right up front

Be clear about the line of business and your offer on your homepage. Visitors will leave quickly if they don’t find what they are looking for, within seconds.

3. Secure plus user security

Create trust for visitors to your site with the right protections. SSL certificates are a good start to create a foundation of trust by establishing a secure connection and protecting your visitor’s data.

Additional steps like encryption at rest, content security policies, cross origin policies and allowed content types minimize potential attack vectors from malicious parties.

Keeping third party software up to date is also key — updates often contain security enhancements and vulnerability repairs which, when left unchecked can create problems for your site.

4. Policies for protection - privacy, terms, accessibility

Including policies for your website — privacy, terms of use and accessibility being the most common — is just smart business. These policies help protect you and your IP as well as protect your site visitors.

For example, a privacy policy specifies what personal information is collected on your site, how the information will be used and who it may be shared with. Terms of use outline the rules that govern use of your site and importantly details liability limitations that protect your business.

5. Mobile is a must

Mobile is how we all work today. A mobile-responsive website design will boost your sales and conversions. Mobile-friendly sites allow your visitors to interact and engage with your brand across devices. Search engines are also transitioning to mobile indexing which makes having a mobile strategy an integral part of long term planning.

6. Plan for structure and scale

Proper and well planned website structure is critical to provide a quality experience to all users. Information and pages should be placed in a well-thought-out arrangement. Without a solid structure, information can be hard to locate or too many clicks away. Work to future proof your site structure, design and navigation to ensure you can scale your site easily as your business grows and changes over time.

Focus your website on your audience.

Your target audience should be the beacon to look to when considering the structure, layout and user experience of your website. Your website is for them, not for you.

1. Easy to navigate and find information

Help visitors find their way around your site, be sure all of your pages have clear navigation links. Be clear with information about your business, your offer and how to contact you in real life.

2. Attention to user experience

Make it easy for site users to get to the content they want, quickly. Outline your products and services and help users get to the desired information with the fewest clicks possible. In addition to intuitive homepage navigation, optimize for mobile and desktop and plan for placement of ‘search’ and various other cues to help users get to what they are looking for.

3. Provide multiple contact options

Tell users how to reach you easily, on their terms. In addition to including your contact details (phone, email) on every webpage footer, provide a contact form if they’d prefer to be contacted by you.

4. Use strong call to actions

It’s important to use strong call to action language on your website. If you’ve got a visitor who is reading and interested, you want them to take an action to move to the next step.

CTA’s should be clear and concise, using language that represents the emotion and personality of your brand.

5. Provide valuable, high quality site content for visitors

Your site represents all elements of your business — your mission, vision and values. Be sure to provide high quality content, guidance and support to site visitors. Quality content goes a long way to garner trust, respect and credibility in your category, industry or field of operation.

Drive quality traffic to your website.

Your website is a tool to draw traffic and help ‘qualify’ those who want/need/desire your services.

1. Create an effective marketing strategy - organic, earned and paid

A strategic marketing approach helps drive awareness about your brand and traffic to your site. Thoughtful use of organic, earned and paid media will help boost the number of visitors to your site. Be sure you’ve followed all the best practices to prepare your site, and to allow them to learn more efficiently and to take action.

2. Consider a blog or newsletter if it aligns with your goals

Blogs are useful to attract attention to audiences who may not know your brand yet. Newsletters are a great way to keep in contact with those who already know you. Both can be effective, organic approaches to reach your audience, showcase your offer and drive traffic to your site.

3. Optimize use of landing pages

Landing pages are part of your website but not necessarily part of the standard navigation paths. Ensure your site allows for quick creation and customization of landing pages for dedicated purposes (I.e. marketing campaigns, for one).

4. Practice SEO fundamentals

People find your brand and business because of the content on your website. It’s important to know how search engines crawl and index content. Make sure you have optimized your content for this purpose - not all content formats are created equal!

5. Integrate your business tools (CRM, POS)

Make the best usage of visits to your site. Ongoing communication is one of the best ways to turn visitors into leads, then customers and hopefully, repeat buyers. Put an offer to ‘sign up’ or ‘join’ on every page of your website. Collect their information for future contact (I.e. email or SMS campaigns) via your CRM or POS system. If they give you their information, there’s already a level of interest in what you have to offer.

6. Repurpose content; encourage sharing of your branded work

If you are preparing content for your website, you should be sharing it across other digital platforms which will garner traffic perhaps not already visiting your site. Lure in interested parties with smart and digestible content on other platforms to create awareness and drive traffic to your website. Allow others to reshare your branded content to reach more people.

Evolve your website with your business.

An effective website is one that is never truly finished — simply because there is not a finish line. Just as your business evolves over time, so should your digital presence.

Consider adaptation for new products and services, response to new markets or changing user preferences, content, design and device trends. You shouldn’t need to design and build a new website each time something significant happens — your site should scale and evolve as you need it to do.

1. Not one and done — an effective working tool requires maintenance

This point is vital. Your website is not a static asset. It should evolve as your business grows, adapts and changes. Your site should always be the most current representation of your business — its mission and offer.

2. Garner feedback and use it judiciously; listen, learn, adapt

Listen and learn from users through social media, customer service channels, analytics and all other touchpoints available to you. Actively find ways to improve your site. Remember, your website is meant to evolve alongside your business.

3. Leverage the results of analytics and smart tools — apply accordingly

Learn more from the data available to you. Make smart use of the analytics and tools regarding site visitors and the actions they take while there. There are valuable insights and messages in that data which can help you optimize the user experience.

4. Earn and build trust with your audience over time

Providing useful content and sharing important information beyond your immediate sales goal helps showcase your value to audiences that connect with you. Credibility goes a long way to build trust. Like everything else related to your site, this takes time, repetition and consistency in order to be effective.

5. Use your site to showcase new offers or measure interest

A safe place to try out new areas, you can analyze website activity and solicit feedback from an audience that already knows you. Use the data and analytics across your digital toolkit as one of your inputs, helping you determine the ‘next’ best product or service as you scale your ideas and your offer.

Your website is the digital expression of your business.

Your website can build interest and awareness, drive qualified prospects and support growth — whatever your latest offer, service or market approach may be. If you’ve properly designed and developed thoughtful structure and planned quality content for your website, your digital presence can seamlessly evolve along with your business.

Done well, you can garner a high return on investment from your website. Lovely People can help. Let’s talk.