Websites: The Fabulous 4
Four Fabulous Key Points to Review for your Website Design Project:
Designing or updating your website can seem like an overwhelming project, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. With a detailed plan and an understanding of your brand strategy, you can overhaul or recreate your website with a few key components.
1. Understanding your Brand
It’s a great idea to reflect back on your overall brand strategy, how your company portrays itself to your customers, what level of formality or casualness you may have, how artistic or scientific you appear. You want to maintain brand alignment with your other marketing materials, your sales process, your overall environment and company culture. Your website should be another tool in your toolkit of marketing; it should fit-in nicely and complement the other communications tools that your company uses.
Do you have an idea how you want your website to function? Is a one-page scrolling option the best presentation for you or do you need multiple pages to achieve your key messages? For suggestions, look at other companies you admire or those in similar industries to see how many pages they have, how they have formatted their navigation and drop-downs, what elements they include on their site. Remember that you are aiming to be thorough in information but concise in delivery. Most companies don’t ever need more than 5-6 pages. [Hint: You never want your navigation to say “MORE” for additional links. Keep everything visible on your navigation.] What other key elements do you need to include: contact form, information form for some key element, a project portfolio? Remember to include mobile functionality as well – hover over options don’t work well on mobile; simple is best. Make sure that your viewers can find you easily and navigate your site’s most visited pages very easily.
3. Site Optimization
There are a variety of ways to optimize your website’s loading speed. Oversized graphics, too many widgets or plug-ins, the quality of hosting service, browser speeds, and several other factors can affect your load time. Google Engineers learned that the barely perceptible page load time 0.4 seconds is long enough to cause users to search less. Also, research has found that 1 in 4 visitors abandon websites that take longer than 4 seconds to load. And load times also affect your search ranking! Not only does it annoy your viewers, but it will actually drop your rank on Google search. There are several free performance tests to review your website loading speeds. Here are a few to try: www.gtmetrix.com or www.pingdom.com. You can also check out this very nice article from Kinsta on Website Speed Optimization.
4. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is the fancy acronym for how the search engines find information on your site and decide on your ranking. The most relevant (and fast-loading) sites rise to the top. Moz.com defines SEO as: the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Pages have content build into the back-end that help search engines define exactly what your page is talking about through keywords, meta-tags, titles and headlines. Also, visible content on each page must be relevant, valuable, and align with the overall page topic. In short, search engines like website that “make sense” in their given topic area. There are also other avenues to drive SEO via directory listings and social media posting. Firms that don’t believe they are the ideal for social media need to realize the value in sharing content, being part of a community, and having the mathematical effects of SEO building. [Hint: If you are stumped with where to begin on any of this, we can help!] You can also check out this article on Optimizing Your Website with SEO.
Website projects can be fun and hugely beneficial for your brand. Whether you are driving online sales, or using your site as a reputation-check, your website and its accuracy and content are essential to your firm’s marketing and sales success.