Top 10 Tips for Creating an Effective Website
Posted on Jun 29, 2011
Creating a professional website that is designed to sell - either your brand or a tangible product - takes time and effort. After all, there is much more to take into consideration than design alone.
To create an effective website that generates results, a strategic approach – with an emphasis on your company’s “big picture” goals – is essential.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 tips for creating an effective website to help you make the most of your online presence.
1) Develop a Plan BEFORE you begin. There’s a rule in the construction industry that says, “measure twice, cut once.” How does this apply to your website? The planning stage of your site’s development helps you determine exactly what you need before spending the money to begin building. Putting a site together without a clear plan of action is guaranteed to cost you money in the long run so take the time to think through your goals before you begin construction. Evaluate your target, check out your competition and develop a map of exactly what pages need to be included.
2) Invest in a professional looking website. The old adage about making a good first impression is key when it comes to doing business – especially online. Your website is the most important sales tool you have and your visitors’ first impression will instantly determine whether or not they’re going to do business with you. A professional website should be pleasing to the eyes, well organized, easy to navigate and fast loading. Keep in mind that functionality is ultimately the most important aspect of a site. If a feature doesn’t work, it might as well not even exist.
3) Let your visitors know who you are. Here’s an area that is often overlooked when it comes to developing an effective website. Think of your website’s home page as your calling card. Provide complete information about your company including: phone number, address, and quick links to request information and support. Overview videos about your company can also go a long way on the home page as they give a visitor all the basics in a concise, visual format.
4) Content is Key! You must use effective sales copy. As any advertising executive will tell you, it starts with the message. Your words are the foundation of your business. Surprisingly, many business failures are the result of ineffective copy. Whether it’s your website, sales letters or advertisements, your words play a major role in determining your success. Understanding that most visitors won’t read all of your content – but rather scan it – can help you make sure that you give them the information you want them to remember. The following questions can help you determine if your copy is doing the trick:
Does it have a powerful headline that demands attention?
Does it arouse interest and create curiosity?
Does it provide details about your product or service?
Is there a clear call for action?
5) Design your website to rank high in the search engines. When was the last time you grabbed a phone book to find the business or service you were looking for? Today’s consumers rely almost exclusively on search engines to find information, so you need to be found easily. Things like keywords, titles, Image ALT tags, text and overall design, all play an important roll in determining how your website will rank. It’s advisable to do your research when selecting SEO providers as all are not created equal. A potential provider should be able to show you samples of effective campaigns they have completed and review trends and statistics with you. For the 411 on SEO , click here.
6) Drive traffic to your site. In order to create a steady stream of traffic to your website, you’ll need to give visitors a reason to visit and continue to visit in the future. You must provide your visitors with fresh content on a continual basis. Content comes in various forms, such as news, articles, tips, specials, newsletters, etc. Again, your content should blend in well with the focus of your business and be updated on a regular basis.
7) Provide free instruction. Your website is the storefront for your product or service. In many cases, you’ll need to convince your visitors that they need the product or service you're offering. This can be accomplished by providing your visitors with free helpful advice and instruction in the form of an article, tutorial, or free e-book. Many companies request an email address before allowing visitors to download free guides. This is an effective way to build your database of prospects into a contact list for sending out information intended to drive traffic back to your website.
8) Display your testimonials. Why should a potential customer do business with you? They’ll get the best product or service, right? But why should they take your word for it? You must gain your visitor’s trust. By displaying customer testimonials, you are boosting your potential customer’s confidence and helping them to feel secure about making an investment with you.
9) Tell your visitors about their privacy. If your website allows for real-time transactions and e-commerce, this tip is crucial. Your customers will expect to know how their information is being used and protected and they’ll depend on you to tell them. Including a special section of your website to cover issues of privacy and information sharing is not only a best practice, it is also another way to make a great first impression and establish trust.
10) Don’t be afraid of simplicity. Finally, it’s important to remember that your visitors are bombarded with images, text and advertisements continually. Making your site clean, simple to use and to the point is like giving your customers a breath of fresh air. Don’t be afraid to keep your website simple. You don’t have to include every photo ever taken of your product or every article ever written about your company. When it comes to websites, less can be more.
A professional website is one the most important factors in determining your online success. It’s important to take your time and make sure you're looking at the complete picture before you begin. If you're not secure in your abilities to create your own website, don’t worry. Most business owners are better suited running their business than coding a website. Rather than risk the success of your business, hire a professional web designer. Your success depends on it.