This article is a writeup of the flash talk that our Director of Sales Matt Cherepanya gave at Social Media Day PHL 2017. A big thank-you to Slice Communications for hosting the event and letting us be a part of it!
You put in a lot of effort to market your company, but it only pays off if you put equal effort into making a great website!
Think of your site as your own private island, one that you’re proud of and willing to invite friends, family and even strangers to come visit. Don’t let it be an island that you’re ashamed of – you don’t want to wind up sitting on it with only your friend Wilson to keep you company!
(Castaway. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. 2000.)
All roads lead to your website
No matter how you market yourself – traditional methods, social media, paid online advertising – inevitably, your clients will want to do more research on your business. Typically, this means a Google search. They’ll look for your name, your business, what you do. What do they find in that search? Your website, of course!
Even if you have a large word-of-mouth business, people will view your website to qualify you. Think about what you do when you hear about another business from a friend or colleague. You do your own research, right?
For example, if you’re in the Philadelphia area, “I Hate Steven Singer” may sound familiar. You hear the radio ads, see the billboards, but, like many others, have no idea what it means. You end up Googling the name and come across his website (to save you time in case you don’t know, he sells jewelry). If you’re interested in his business, you’ll scope out the website and make some judgement of what you do next based on that.
People will do the same for you and your website. Things like the quality of your site, available reviews, and reputation are all factors for someone to build trust in your business.
Making a successful website
So how can you build a website that you’re proud of? You need something that looks good, is easy to use, and has only the information your client needs.
Know your audience
- Create personas or write out an understanding of a good demographic. Who are the people viewing your website?
- Talk with your team, interview your clients.
- Recommended Resource: Use a persona template or persona builder like the Xtensio User Persona Tool (you do need an account, but it’s free to register!)
Identify user’s motives
- You’ve established a persona, now put yourself in that person’s shoes. Consider how they want to use your website, what information they’re looking for and where they expect to find it.
- Remember that people use websites in all different ways! Reference what you learned from talking to team members and clients.
- Use your website’s analytics to help you make decisions on the content to highlight the most.
Function and ease of use
- Keep it simple – it won’t matter how beautiful your island is or how many cool things there are to do there if your visitors can’t figure out how to get around!
- That said, first impression is critical. Your homepage may not even be the first page the user lands on and is likely not where they will go for the information they seek, so make sure that all of your pages will meet your user’s needs and expectations.
- Recommended Resource: Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
Goals & objectives on every page
- Phone numbers – is your phone number easy to find? Is click-to-call enabled for mobile devices?
- Contact forms – your client may be unable to pick up the phone, so make it easy for them to provide you with their name, phone and email – no need to overcomplicate the form! — ask for further detailed information as a “step 2” but make sure you can at least capture a potential lead’s basic info for follow up if they don’t have the time to fill out a long winded form.
- Download, Add to Cart, More Information – is there an action for the user to take on the page? Is it clear and visible?
Maintenance and improvement
It’s not enough to do the work once, build the website and forget about it. Again, think of your website as an island – if you’re not continually adding new attractions, keeping the beaches clean, focusing on the reputation the island has, and asking visitors for feedback, chances are your island will become less attractive and thus less visited.
Websites should be updated regularly (monthly, quarterly, annually) for their software as well as content.
- Use analytics to make data-driven decisions based on future improvements.
- Where are visitors coming from? How are they finding your site?
- What parts of the website are most visited?
- Take this information and leverage it to make improvements to your site that match these results.
- Continue to add content, products, portfolio items – show users that you’re active and use this as an opportunity to show off your work and the good words past clients have to say about you!
- Avoid deleting or removing anything, though!
- For more ideas, check out our blog post on how to refresh your site without starting from scratch.
- These days, online security means more to users than ever before. Common security measures can protect not only your users, but also you, your team and your website in general!
- Use a good hosting provider.
- Do routine updates monthly/quarterly to any software or plugins your site may be utilizing.
In the end, you’ll see that the work you put in pays off – but remember, we’re here for you! Get in touch and we’ll work with you to strengthen your website and make it as enticing to your clients as a stay at a beautiful private island.