15 Feb 2016 11:59:09
Business websites can serve a number of functions: they make it easy for prospective customers to find you and contact you online, provide information about your products and services, and help define your brand. But ultimately, all business websites have one primary, overriding purpose: to help prospects make the decision to buy from you.
Here are the key website design considerations for developing an effective business site:
Begin with the end in mind. What constitutes success for your website? Is your goal to have web presence or is your goal to generate leads and sales from it? If you want to generate leads, do you have a target for how many leads you want to generate/month? Do you know what it takes to achieve that goal? Will you be running campaigns from your website? Are you looking to build a subscriber list? Will you be selling products online or collecting payments online? These are the types of questions you want to ask yourself so you can design your site with such goals in mind to help you achieve and determine the business results you want to measure from your website.
Align your website with your brand – Your brand is the perception, image and key message(s) you want to convey about your business. From an image and visual perspective, make sure you use colors that reflect your brand and your company’s “personality” and have a clear message that you can convey with your design
Know Your Target Audience Well – Identify your prospects as specifically as possible, e.g. by title, industry, company size, geographic region, etc. What are their pains? How are they likely to search for solutions? What information do they need as they go through their buying process? This is critical in how you’ll lay out your site and what information you’ll provide.
Think about your secondary audiences as well: current customers, the media, industry and/or financial analysts, prospective employees. Give them a clear path to the information they need while keeping the focus on driving business results.
Keep your site as simple as possible. Your home page should immediately tell what your business is about and what you provide in terms of products and services. Don’t overwhelm your prospects with information or choices. Keep your design simple and clearly provide your visitors with educational information related to your business as well clear calls to action to take the next step to contact you, sign up or buy. Also, provide clear, descriptive navigation to make it easy for your visitors to navigate your site. For example, the primary navigation buttons on the ePROneur website are Web Strategy Consulting, Web Marketing Software and Web Marketing Services. Using precise rather than generic phrases for site navigation is not only clearer for your website visitors, but also helps with search engine optimization.
Use “flashy” content sparingly. Flash, HTML 5, video, animated GIFs and similar elements can add action and a sense of movement to your site, but use such items carefully and sparingly. Overuse or misuse of active components can actually drive visitors away. But proper use of video, animation and other active features can help communicate your message more effectively than text alone. Make sure every element supports your site’s overall purpose.
Provide content that helps prospects make the decision to buy from you. This isn’t just “sales” content. There’s a place, of course, for text that describes the features and benefits of your products and/or services. But also offer resources that are valuable to your visitors and content that demonstrates thought leadership (blog posts, articles, best-practices or unique insights on industry topics).
Compel your visitors to act. It’s great to have a website that looks good, but what do you want people to do once they get there? You need to think about different ways on each of the pages to get people to act so you can either get them on your mailing list, or get them to subscribe to your newsletter, download a white paper or report, sign up for a free trial, register for a webinar, contact you for more information, or even purchase an item directly from your site. This is referred to as conversion. Once of the ways to measure the effectiveness of your site is your conversion ratio – which is the ratio of visitors to leads or visitors to customers. If your business does not have a process in place on your website to convert your visitors directly to customers, then consider a follow up marketing campaign to increase conversions from leads you’ve captured on your email list.
Have a Promotion Plan
Keep the search engines in mind and use social media to get people to your site! A site is not of much use if people cannot find it. People find your site because the search engines find you first if your site is optimized! Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO) includes both onsite and offsite optimization. So start by making your site SEO friendly and addressing your site’s onsite optimization needs. Then on a regular basis, optimize your site offsite by building your presence in local, industry and popular web directories. Search Engine Optimization is one of the key internet marketing methods that will build your web presence and lead people to your site.
Another way to promte your website is through social media. Social media can be a highly effective channel for people to find you online. Build your profile and get the word out to your friends, colleagues and network about your website so they can follow you, link in to you or join you. This helps expose you to their network and will help you expand your reach and provide you an opportunity to drive people to your website with little effort.
Use Analytics to measure results. Set some initial goals on what you would like your site to accomplish, then work backwards and determine how many leads and visitors you would need to get to your goals. You can assume initially a 2% conversion ratio until you get more experiences and targeted in your marketing, then you can achieve an exponentially higher ratio. Google analytics is one of the popular tools to use to measure your traffic and analyze the source and behaviors of your visitors. So be sure to include it on your site so you gain more intelligence on how your site is performing!
By keeping in mind the points above, you can design an effective website that produces real business results.