Over the past few weeks, we have had a
Things have changed a lot over the past few years. Up until quite recently, a business website was normally either a static ‘Brochure’ site or a data-driven e-commerce ‘Shop’. These 2 options have merged and nowadays, virtually all websites are data-driven, whether or not you actually sell products or services online.
Here are some ideas how you can check your website is fit for 2019.
Your shop window
It is a bit of a
Look is important but experience is more important
I was in a meeting recently (with one of the clients I talked about above) talking about a new website, and the primary thing they wanted to know was ‘what is the new site going to look like?‘ Now, don’t get me wrong, a website needs to look right – that is, it needs to look right for its business. It is a part of ‘telling the story’ – but it is only a part.
The reality with modern business websites is that the majority are built around pre-designed templates. There is relatively little bespoke design work going on – design is expensive! The thing that makes a website stand out is good images. Understanding what photography you want and commissioning a professional photographer can be the most realistic approach to getting a website that works for you visually.
Even cracking photography is only part of the story. If your starting point is simply ‘What’s it going to look like?’, you have missed asking the most important question:
What do I want my website to do?
Another way of asking this question is to think about the experience you want your site visitors to have and what actions you want them to take.
Different pages, different objectives
The most important page in your site is the first page people see. While this is normally your ‘Home Page’, it might not be. A website can have an array of ‘Landing Pages’ all designed as a different first step in a website experience. As it is the most common, let’s look at your Home Page.
I believe a website homepage needs to do 2 things:
- When a new visitor arrives and takes a look at your home page, they are looking for something. At this point, they will only give you a few seconds to come to the conclusion: It looks like I’m in the right place. This isn’t to say they can see exactly what they need, rather that they have confidence they can find it in your site.
- Once your visitor is happy that they are in the right place they then need to know where next? What is the next step to find exactly what your visitor is looking
This second step is likely to be a link to another part of your website so at this point, your home page has done its job. Beyond the home page, you should be aiming to assist and guide your visitor to their goal, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
It’s not about you
I’m sorry, but you aren’t as important as your customer – at least not in their mind!
An effective website really embraces this concept and focuses on engaging with visitors drawing them in, rather than talking at them. Of course, yours is a commercial operation and your goal is to do profitable business with your customers. You need to weave your sales proposition, features and benefits into your engagement.
This way you lead people to
The calls to action
No website is perfect, nor can you second-guess the requirements and expectations of every single one of your site visitors. Hopefully your site does deliver for most visitors so, when they find what they are looking for, you must have a clear call to action telling them what to do next in the process of doing business with you.
For the minority who lose their way on your site, the importance is options. If a visitor feels that you look like a good option for their needs but they just can’t find what they want, offering ways to make bespoke enquiry, (maybe by email, telephone or chat system) can be key.
Let’s face it, unless your website is an online shop where people can place orders, the primary goal of most websites is to generate an enquiry!
Your website is a process, not an event
Change is constant. In 6 months, your business will be different to what it is today. 6 months later it will be different again.
Will your website adapt to keep up? Too often the answer is No. I started this article saying a number of clients had approached us looking for an updated website. This is what happens. A website is seen as a project. You build a site and launch it. Although there is normally talk about content management, in my experience, this rarely leads to anything significant.
The event of a new website launch slips behind the natural process of business evolution.
By seeing your website as a process from the outset creates a platform where website support, maintenance and update is built in. The evolution of your website becomes a natural element of the evolution of your business. You won’t need to be looking for a new website in 3 or 4 years’ time. You’ll already have one!
If you would like to talk to us about your website as a process for 2019 and beyond, please get in touch.