Our team at SEO Maestros a leading web design agency based in Bristol have put this article together to share some of our top tips for creating an amazing website. Our team often gets calls from clients who have commissioned a website through a “cheap” web design agency or had a friend build it for them, they are then surprised that the website is not performing the way they would like or expected. We usually start discussions with these clients by firstly trying to establish through the following questions:
Clients look at us and say it must bring in leads or help me sell my products, but without clear planning, structure and investment in proper positioning, this will likely never happen.
Our team at SEO Maestros have put together a list of easy to follow steps that outline the Do’s and Don’ts of building a functioning website. If you follow these tips, you are sure to be on a good track to achieving your desired goal of having a functioning, well-positioned website.
Your goals need to be measurable. Usually you will want to have your website achieve the following.
We are not suggesting you become an expert, but make sure you know what SEO is and how it is measured. Search engine optimization is something you need to know about too. It has one of the highest ROIs in marketing. Plus, do it right and SEO can literally put your marketing on autopilot, allowing you to focus on improving the quality of your business, instead of figuring out how to bring in customers to your site. Choose a web design team that is not scared to discuss SEO with you. You are paying for a service and they are obligated to be able to explain where your hard-earned money is going. These days, any company not willing to discuss how they intend to SEO your website, is not worth doing business with!
Do yourself a favour and go with an open-source system, like WordPress and Magento that any developer can access. If you decide to move your website to another company, you do not want them to not know how the back end of the system works. WordPress for example is our popular choice; it is powerful and really works well. If your website is built in WordPress, you can literally take it to any “competent” WordPress developer and he would be able to pick up where the last company left off.
Research the percentage of your visitors that are likely to use mobile devices to access your site. If it is high, you may want to consider building a separate mobile version of your site, or even an app. If it is relatively low, just make sure your website works on smart phones, but do not invest into a mobile version. Another great advantage of WordPress is that most of its templates are now simultaneously mobile friendly, so this eliminates the need to build a second platform just for mobile devices.
Before you start building your site, check out your competitors and write down the things they do well. If you like the look and feel of another site, there’s no reason not to start with something you like and then make it your own. This is common practice in the industry and due to the competitive nature of online marketing, you need to give your company and brand the most competitive edge available. Investing in doing research on your competition will help you to develop a strategy on how to position yourself above them on Google rankings.
The biggest slow-down in the Web design process is content. If you are going to sell products on your site, get product photos and product descriptions ready. If you sell services, you will need a description of each service. Get as much of your content together before you start building your site—it will save you weeks. Be very careful about out sourcing the development of your content. You know your business better than anyone does, you should take lead on what is said about your products and services; remember your website will be seen as an extension of you and your business. Make sure you do not let a potential client down by presenting a weak version of your products and services.
If done right a good call to action allow visitors to your website to quickly decide what they want to do next. If for example, you are having a large sale. Do not just write a banner that says “50% off all products.” Write one that says “50% off all products, CLICK HERE to view them.” This is a call to action, the visitor is directed to “Click Here” and then you most likely have made a sale.
If you walked up to a person that you have never met before and simply handed them one of your business cards and without saying a word, just walked away. How successful do you think that approach would be?
If you want people to do something on your website, such as sign up for your newsletter, don’t just put up a box that says “enter email” or even “sign up for newsletter”, you’ll get a very weak conversion rate. Tell them why they should do it: “Sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly specials.” Same thing goes for Twitter and Facebook logos. Just putting those up is not smart. Tell people why they should follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook. What will they get out of it?
The web design industry is very dynamic, even the best companies struggle to keep up with every “new” trend. When we get a client who feels the need to lecture us on what they think they need. We usually politely direct them to our competition. A client needs to respect that as web designers we are experts in our chosen field. I agree, that there are a lot of fly by nights, but that’s why we have put this list of tips together, any web designer that can agree and answer your questions related to what we have discussed thus far is worth their weight and will most likely deliver you a awesome website site and exceed all your goals.
At all costs, avoid doing the following:
Unless you seriously know what you are doing, I would always suggest you get a professional web designer to help you get started. You would not work on your car unless you know something about motor mechanics, the same goes for your website, your website is often where your customers’ first experience your brand. If it looks homemade, they are going to make assumptions about your business that you want to avoid.
When visitors come to your website, they typically already know what they want out of it. Try this little experiment, Do a three-second test: If within three seconds, a visitor cannot figure out what to do next, go back to the drawing board and start again.
You need to realise that simply building a website does not come with a guarantee that visitors will start arriving. You need to work very hard to draw people to your website through targeted marketing campaigns and SEO tactics.
Set a budget for your website and at all costs do not max out your entire budget just on the website. These days you can get well-designed open source websites for a couple thousand rand. If the website is build right, you can should always be able to make improvements as your business grows. It is far more important initially to have some money left over for a marketing budget so you can actually make a return on your investment.
Do not get us wrong, a blog is an awesome way to build organic rankings and website trust authority. Google loves fresh content and blogs are a great way to engage with your visitors. However, seriously consider adding one if you are going outsource your blog posts to a ghost content developer or you are going to do it yourself. If you add a blog and simply ignore it, visitors to your site might get the impression that you are either out of business or that, your company is not dynamic and nothing is really happening that is news worthy.
Just like a blog, social media is everywhere and if used properly it can really help grow your brand online. Nevertheless, if you just put social media buttons on your website and ignore them like a blog, then when a potential client clicks through to your social pages and sees hardly any followers, they may lose trust in you. First build up your social presence, then commit to posting and engaging your fans on a regular basis, and only then promote them on your website. Also, keep in mind that some businesses simply do not belong on Twitter or Facebook.
We see this often, especially when you have multiple stakeholders all adding their two cents to the website. Your website will be a mess if you try to accommodate every type of visitor who might come along. Figure out who is likely to be your most frequent users and focus on creating the best experience for them.
Once again, like social media and blogs, a testimonial is going to help build trust among your site visitors; however, we too often come across testimonials that sound fake. “’They are great!’ says John Smith” just does not make me feel reassured. One of the best ways to tackle this is to make a note that we are happy to provide contactable client references to qualified leads. This is something that a genuine client would respect and if they want to know more, they can engage through one of your “calls to action” and once qualified you can release a reference. It also shows you care about your clients by not freely advertising their details.
Try at all costs to avoid using Flash. Adobe just announced that it will no longer support Flash on mobile devices and set-top-boxes. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to be unable to open your site.
These days you can build a awesome website quickly, but getting it positioned does take time. SEO is key part of any website’s success. Making sure you allocate enough time and resources to achieve it is key to your websites success.
We hope you enjoyed this articles, we really feel strongly that proper planning and design can save both the developer and the client a lot of headaches down the line. If you would like to know more about SEO Maestros and how we could maybe help your website thrive, please do not hesitate to contact us today!
SEO Maestros is a leading web design agency based in Bristol.