- By Industry
It’s typical that every businessperson hates his or her website. This is not a bad thing, necessarily. People with ambition and a sense of professionalism are usually not satisfied with their online presence. They understand that everything can use some improvement. And, the Web doesn’t stand still. Last year’s good website may need a coat of paint today. What makes for a good website, though? In our experience, an effective site has five characteristics:
1. Curb appeal—Your website needs to look good. We are now well into the Web’s third decade. Consumers are highly attuned to the nuances of how a site is put together. They can spot cheap gimmicks and amateurish design. This does not mean you have to spend a fortune on designers and the like. It does mean paying attention to detail and investing enough in the site to give it a finished, professional look that flatters your brand.
2. Recent content—A website is an invitation to connect or perhaps even buy something right away. Unless you’re a globally-famous brand, your site has to establish trust in order to make the connection with the visitor. Having out-of-date content is a big turn off in this regard, a trigger of suspicion. If the visitor comes to your site and notices the most recent blog post was from 2016, he or she will probably assume you’ve gone out of business and move on. It’s essential to populate the site with regular, recent articles.
3. Alignment of messaging and navigation—Savvy web surfers are looking for alignment between what your site says and how it’s laid out. There needs to be agreement between site navigation and your message. For example, if your home page says that you offer a wide variety of auto parts, the site navigation should follow from this premise and offer pages that showcase a wide variety of auto parts. If the navigation offers the visitor pages relating to a single brand of spark plug, for instance, this will cause a dissonance that may send visitors to competitors’ sites.
4. Pages that tell a story—Each page on a website should have its own narrative flow. If you look at well-made sites, you will see this process in action. The top of the page features a marquee that establishes what the page is about and offers a hint about why the visitor should spend time on it. As the visitor scrolls down, he or she is shown increasingly detailed information that affirms the choice to stay on the page. Often, the best practice is to ask a question, perhaps implicitly, at the top of page, and then answer it as the page opens up. For instance, the marquee could ask “What’s the best spark plug?” The next section could define the qualities of a good spark plug. The one below that could then explain why the brand carried on the site meets these criteria, and so forth.
5. Calls to action—People are on the site. Don’t let them get away! It’s imperative to include calls to action (CTAs) throughout the site. These might be “learn more” buttons at the end of each section of a page, offers for rich content that requires a registration form be filled out and more. Good sites create engagement with visitors.
These are just a few ideas of what constitutes an effective website. On-page search engine optimization (SEO), keyword consistency and many other factors are also important. But, that’s for another blog. To learn more about how to design a great site, contact us for a free consultation.