Your website is the ultimate business showcase – it’s usually the first impression of your business provided to a searching potential client, so investing a good proportion of your marketing budget in it is key.
Times are changing; in the world of social media, business page reach is reducing, and rules are changing, so your website is becoming even more important as it’s the one online presence that you actually own and can control.
Unless you’re a web design expert yourself don’t be tempted to do it yourself, I recommend employing the services of a professional web design agency – they know exactly how to do it properly and professionally – giving you the right first impression to your prospective clients.
Strong design AND development is key
We’re very visual and will naturally be enticed by the look of something before engaging with the write-up. The look is what draws us in, so strong design and imagery is absolutely essential when choosing your web designer.
But don’t forget the development side of things either; it’s essential that your web designer uses a development programme that suits your business and your needs. Ensure that you can make changes with ease at the end of the build, and that the system can be adapted as you grow. You don’t want to have outgrown it within a year or two.
Many web designers are techies, many are designers – but the best agencies are those that have talent in both areas – hiring this style of company will get you a website that not only looks great but works brilliantly for you too!
Invest in SEO and keyword analysis
SEO research and key word analysis are crucial parts of your website build, so make sure to invest in this area…and continue to do so after launch! Google changes its website likes and dislikes often, so ensure that your web developer offers you SEO as part of their service to you, as what’s the point of the most perfect looking website that can’t be found?!
It’s useful too as your provided key words can be used across all platforms to ensure a greater reach for your business.
Collaborate with your web team, don’t leave them high and dry
When we know we need a new/updated website, it’s easy to go off and find a web designer, brief the work and then feel like you’ve ticked the box and move onto your ‘to do’ list, but don’t lose pace. The only way a great web design and build can come together is if you’re available to the web team whenever they need you AND you provide them with text and imagery for use when they need it…they can’t magic it – you’re the business, not them, so dedicate the time to working through the processes with the web design team in detail.
Really think about your target audience – what are they looking for? Are they typically busy people? What information will they want to know straight away? Is it obvious what you do? How can you make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for? How many ‘clicks’ can you get away with before they lose interest and look elsewhere?
By investing time in this initial phase, you will ensure that you will have a website that is seamless in its use and is an attractive resource for your target audience and works hard for you too.
Put thought into the little details, for example, it’s a pet hate of mine to scroll down or up endlessly in order to find what I’m looking for. It’s an instant put-off and will lead me to going to a competitor. Having a well thought out navigation bar that appears when you scroll up and down is essential. It makes the customer experience so much slicker and removes frustration and ultimately engages them in to looking further and contacting you.
It’s all about the visual
Never use imagery on your website that is either low quality or doesn’t showcase your business in the best possible way – as mentioned earlier, we’ve very visual and will only be enticed by the best quality images.
Avoid the temptation to purchase ‘stock’ images and instead invest in a professional photographer – perhaps set up a photo shoot or two, or be followed around for a couple of days so that your photographer can capture you in action, or indeed consider photography lessons on how to take great photographs for your website.
Use video where possible too – people love it and it makes your business come across in a more interactive way and of course is another opportunity to get the personality of your business across like no other!
Overall, put your stamp all over it – people buy people, so make your website and extension of you.
Prepare properly for ‘live’ status
There are bound to be bugs when going from development phase to live, so remove the stress and give yourself a week after going live before shouting about it. Dedicate a day in your diary to test the website alongside the web team and ensure it works properly for you – iron out the bugs and make immediate changes where necessary.
Get your press release and client mailshot ready so that once your website is tested and you’re delighted with it, shout about it from the rooftops – and continue to shout about it too.
Overall, a new website is an investment, so if you’ve devoted your time to it and hired the best web design agency, it should be the most wonderful platform in which to sell your products and services and take your business to the next level.
Natalie Lovett is managing director of The Whitewed directory.