How to make your website work for you?
Your website is an integral of your digital marketing strategy. It may serve as a gateway to gather information, or the actual destination where a sale takes place. It's an opportunity for a visitor to discover what makes your brand unique, to find the information they're looking for, and to guide them in their decision to buy. You may have all sorts of marketing campaigns running, ads on Google, posts on Facebook, blog articles, all of this is bringing in new customers that eventually end up on your website. All of that attention on your website makes it one of the most valuable pieces of digital real estate that you own.
The better you're marketing, the more visibility your website has. Online consumers of today are fickle, and that's because digital interactions are so commonplace, so users are spoiled by companies that are doing it the right way. They're used to things just working, and they expect that the information they want will be available and accurate. When it's not, they're disappointed, and credibility is lost for whatever brand they're interacting with. The truth is, if your website isn't good, you're going to fall further and further behind as the landscape evolves. And if your website doesn't work on mobile, you're already behind.
Chances are, there's a competitor with a better online experience and your customers will seek them out if they're fumbling with yours. So let's talk about how to make sure your experience is good enough. It doesn't need to be perfect, it just has to be successful. An effective website is simple, well thought out and highly functional. It should be intuitive and eliminate any and all barriers, so your visitor can accomplish their goals effortlessly. In our marketing strategy, we're aiming for shared value. It's the same with your website. Your business goals and the needs of your target market should overlap.
And while we're drawing similarities to our marketing strategy, I'll also point out that your website only needs to appeal to your target market, so spend your effort designing it to work for that audience. As you evaluate your current website, take some time to ask yourself the following questions: One, is it mobile friendly? The amount of people using their mobile devices to browse the Web is staggering. So design with mobile in mind. In our next post, we're going to talk about something called responsive design, and that will help give you some more ideas around the topic of being mobile friendly.
The next question is, does it load properly in all modern web browsers? If your site looks one way on Safari for Mac, and another way on Chrome for PC, you're not really controlling the experience. Test it out on all of the modern browsers. Use browserstack.com as a way to quickly test your site across platforms. Does it answer all the questions my users have or may have? Now a good practice is to write down things your customers ask for via phone, email, or even in your place of business. You can check to see if those answers are easily found on your website, and if they're not, then you should put that information online.
Next, is the site reflective of my brand? Within the first couple of seconds, a user is going to decide how the site feels to them. You need to make sure your brand is carried through. Luxury brands need to feel elegant, whereas discount sites can focus more on the current sales. Make sure your logo, tagline and the color scheme all reflect your brand. You definitely want things to be consistent. Is it up to date? Nothing is worse than information that's out of date. It creates concern with users, so be sure to keep information current. If you have a blog, you should be using it weekly.
Are all of your services and products easy to find? Because online marketing is so niche, your targeting audience is likely looking for something specific. Can they find it on your website? If they can't find it, and they call, and you say it's a service or product you do offer, it needs to be on your site. Are all of your policies easy to find? That is to say, if you ship or handle returns, can the user understand the process clearly? Will they know how long shipping takes? When they can expect a call back or a product to arrive? You wanna provide ample feedback so a user knows where they stand in the process.
Finally, one of the best criteria for your site, is how does it compare to your competitor? Are you proud or jealous? If you're jealous, it's probably time to seriously consider whether or not you need to patch up your website. Leverage your relationships with existing customers and colleagues as a way to get feedback on your site. Ask them what they like, what they don't like, and for any ideas. As you go about creating an effective website, I also recommend hearing from someone outside your circle. Check out peek.usertesting.com. For no charge, they'll have a real person spend five minutes on your site, and give you honest and unbiased feedback.