Are you about to upgrade your business website with a re-design or considering a completely new one? Maybe you don’t have an online presence and think that now is the time to get online? Either way today websites are no longer simply a ‘recommended’ aspect of modern business they are a key tool and can have a significant impact on the success of your business.
With so many people online and so many websites for them to choose from how you develop your online presence will have an impact on your bottom line. To help you get the most out of your website we’ve outlined some important things for you to consider.
Set business website goals that are aligned to business outcomes.
Think about the role your website plays in your business and how it supports growth. See your business website as a product and figure out what you are trying to achieve with it. Are you trying to generate sales leads, sell products, secure bookings, grow your email list, provide information, or reduce costs?
Either way whatever you want to achieve you need to be very specific with your business website goals in order to ensure that you employ the right design and features to ensure you achieve them. Having clear goals that are aligned to your business outcomes will ensure that you will be able to monitor how your website contributes to your overall business success.
Make your business website easy to use.
If there is one thing that should be of paramount importance, maybe even more so than the content itself, is ease of use. If your website is not easy to use then who is going to make the effort to read the content?
Your business website may be built using the latest technologies however, that does not mean that it will be easy for your website users to interact with it in a way that is useful to them. An objective for your business website should be to enable users to easily complete tasks in an engaging and frictionless way.
Website usability is the term used to make your website user friendly. It takes a holistic view of design and user requirements and seeks to make it easy and enjoyable for users of a website to complete their tasks. It is a key component of good website design however usability can be complex and involved. Here are a few areas you can focus on to get you started in ensuring a good user experience on your site.
- Navigation: This is how your users will move around your business website getting from one page to another. On the surface, this sounds pretty straight forward however it’s a bit more complex as it is the framework of your website. User will enter you site from different pages and so your navigation should be obvious and consistent across the website. It should provide users with a clear indication of where they are and where they should go next in order to complete their task.
- Readability: I goes without saying that the text you use on your website should be easy to read. Make sure that it is not obscured by distracting animated elements or background images. Using white space and a font size of, at a minimum, 16px with a line height of 24px for body copy which should make it easy on the eyes. Remember that the type of font you use will also have an impact on readability.
- Write for the web: People tend to read differently on the web when compared to other media such as print. The often quickly scan web pages taking information in at a faster rate. Writing small, digestible amounts of copy that is clear and to the point will go a long way in keeping your users engaged and taking the positive actions you have set out for them.
- Hyperlinks: Your content and pages are ‘stitched together’ using hyperlinks, commonly referred to as links. These should stand out from your body copy, be obvious and easy to recognise. You can make use of various formatting elements such as colour and text underline to make your links visible to your website users. This will help users to get to the information or product they are looking for by knowing what to click on.
- Information design: You are more likely to notice information design when you come across a website that frustrates your efforts to find the information you’re looking for or where links are broken and not working. Users may not notice good information design if they find interacting with a website effortless. You should build your website and structure its content in a way that is logical and intuitive to the user. You can do this by organising information in meaningful ways, using recognizable names, colours, graphics and fonts sizes to present a simple hierarchy that’s easy to follow.
- User centred approach: It can be easy to get carried away with slideshows, widgets, functions and all the other wonderful features that you could use to build a really cool website. And whilst the finished product may be slick it would amount to nothing if you did not place your users front and centre of the whole process. User centred design is a process of designing around the user. It uses data, research and interviews with users in order to gain a deep understanding about them. You should use this to inform your decisions as it removes emotions, assumptions and guess work; allowing you to build a product that will genuinely satisfy the needs of your website users.
- Responsive design: With ever increasing numbers of people using mobile devices such as phones or tablets it’s important for you to make sure that your website caters for these devices. Not too long a go some businesses managed 2 websites to address this situation and some still do. However, today it’s possible to cater to all devices by building a responsive business website. That is a website that detects the device the user is using to access it and adjusts accordingly.
Great content that is useful will result in a great experience that will get your website users coming back for more.
There are different types of content that you can create including blog posts, video, guides and many other pieces of information about your product or service. The key here is to make sure that it’s fresh, engaging and adds value. Here are a couple of things you could think about doing to improve engagement.
- Take time to truly understand your users and what they need.
- Develop a brand voice that is distinctive and will help you stand apart from your competitors .
- Get your users thinking by appealing to their emotions and create content that stimulates curiosity, highlights scarcity or builds trust.
- Prompt users into action by asking a question, asking for an opposing point of view or asking for agreement.
Create fresh and engaging content.
Make use of high quality photography.
There is a saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” and in a highly competitive online space image is everything. They conjure specific emotions and feelings which can be used to complement your business website’s content.
Users will use images to quickly assess and evaluate the credibility of your website often at a subconscious level. This is why you should only use the best quality images you can to showcase your products or reinforce your message and give your users a deeper experience.
When creating your high-quality images make sure that they are optimised for the web, if they are not properly optimise for your website they will impact the performance of your website in terms of speed which affects load times. A slow website will have a negative impact that drives users away.
Track your business website performance.
It’s important to be able to monitor and analyse the performance of your business website in order to ensure that it is delivering on your business goals.
There are a number of free website analytics tools out there and some will be included as part of your web hosting package but the most popular free analytics software is Googles Analytics. This is a very sophisticated piece of software that is full of features and will enable you to have a detailed view of your website activities.
Once you set up Google Analytics you will be able to measure performance against the goals you defined for your website. You’ll be able to do this by monitoring and analysing data on which pages a visitor clicks on, how long they stay on the page and how they navigate your website. You’ll also be able to see geographical information or information on what type of browser or device was used to access your website and so much more.
Year on year we get more Internet ready devices, more tablets, more phones, more PC’s and year on year more people go online with these devices to access websites. It’s no longer important to, ‘just have a website’, business owners need to ask themselves why and if they are getting the most out of it?
They need to change their thinking and not see their website as an add on to their business, something to be thought about at the last minute, but as a product that is an integral part of the activities they undertake to grow their business and something that will have an impact on their bottom line.
Above we have highlighted just some of the things that can be done to help you get the most out of your business website. You don’t even have to be re-designing or building a new website to get the benefit as some of the suggestions can be used on existing websites. Use them to take your website to a new level and delight your customers in the process.