Your website is the true hub of your digital brand. Sometimes, it even stands in for your brand altogether. Your social media, your branded copy, your PPC, your emails — they all converge on your website.
Whether you’re looking to drive online sales, phone calls, or sign ups — your website needs to put on a welcoming face. Your site needs to naturally and instinctively pre-empt user behavior, mimic user language, and generally respond to their digital needs. Here are some reasons why your webpages need to roll out the red carpet — and how you can ensure that yours will always receive a 5-star rating from your users…
Finetune UX and usability
Reviewing your site should start with a thorough audit, ranking and scoring your site in terms of its usability and user experience (UX). You want to score your site’s design, content, and copy in function of its ability to elicit the right reactions in users.
Remember, this is not about subjective judgements on your website design — but about focusing on how easy users find locating and sorting through the information on your webpages.
Apps provide a great example of fantastic UI (user interface) — stretching the relationship between visuals, copy, and actions to the extreme. Take a look at popular apps and see what you can learn from how they approach design decisions. Notice the emphasis on mobile-first and conversational commerce.
A good CX = more sales
A great online customer experience will result in more sales.
People like to enjoy themselves when they shop. From casual mobile scrollers, to lunchtime desktop shoppers, a better shopping experience will improve your business bottom line.
- Speed is crucial, especially when shoppers come to you on mobile. Make sure that any imagery or videos are sufficiently compressed, and don’t make users wait around for carousels
- Ease of use is another important factor — from form fields, to CTAs (calls to action), make sure everything is instinctive and needs no explaining. You want a 100% frictionless checkout or contact page)
- Great customer experiences don’t stop at your website — make sure that any customer support calls, chats, and social media conversations are also delivering a great experience. A good website won’t be able to save a brand who doesn’t serve their customers well.
Secure environment = enjoyable environment
Website security is not ‘optional’. Secure hosting is a must-have — it will help secure your site from attacks, but it will also help your site always function at peak performance levels, even when it’s put under pressure doing seasonal traffic spikes. The best website security is the kind that’s almost invisible to users — they will enjoy a glitch-free experience with you, and won’t question your trustworthiness. However, show them a chink in your security armor, and they could be running a mile…
Even if you’ve gone for a hosted website or online store, you should still invest in website security. A pro-active approach will ensure the safety and happiness of your online guests, so download extra apps and plugins, and don’t ‘coast’ when it comes to securing your site.
Does your website have a clear user or sales funnel? A lot of otherwise great sites fail, because they are trying to accommodate too many buyer personas at once; or the site doesn’t really have a clear structure. If your sales plan is vague, go back to the drawing board, and define how you want your website to function as part of your lead-generation strategy. A strategic approach is the only approach.
- Conversion rate optimization can help you make the most of any current site traffic, so hire in a specialist to optimize your current site. Just tweaking a few words and running some simple A/B tests could make the world of difference. It’s often more cost-effective to work with what you’ve got, rather than seek out new traffic
- Does your information architecture and internal linking structure support purpose? Conduct a site crawl of all your pages and review your title tags, and internal links to see whether you are really offering a clear narrative path to users
- If you are trying to accommodate multiple different audience groups, try to factor them into the site design, and create clear funnels and journeys.
Many websites don’t deliver thanks to their ‘me, me, me’ culture that makes them sound, look, and feel disingenuous. You’ll want to step up your game and make your site look and feel part of a thriving online community.
- Reviews & testimonials — the more the better
- User generated content — integrate this into your website with social media carousels
- Use your community to create content as well — feature your users and customers
- Social media feeds can help give people an at a glance view of your brand community
- A blog is a great place to share events — just make sure your blog is the kind that people will actually want to read, rather than a corporate PR piece.
Accessibility often gets knocked off the list during a web build in favor of more ‘sexy’ considerations like design, but making sure your site is accessible is hugely important. Information should be equally available to everyone in this world, regardless of their individual ability.
- Can people using screen readers get around your site well?
- Have you got big text options? What about your color contrast options?
- Are you actively collecting feedback from your user community on how you’re faring in accessibility terms?
Embrace your role as project manager
As a webmaster, you have an active role in the life of your website. It’s your responsibility to ensure that web developers, designers, copywriters, marketers, SEOs etc. successfully collaborate on your site. Without proper project management, your site runs the risk of looking disjointed or amateurish, or majorly lacking in one of the core departments. This is a fatal mistake — undermining your audience’s trust in your product or services.
- Use apps like InVision to help all interested parties feedback on design elements quickly, ensuring that a final website design is reached quickly and painlessly
- Don’t neglect copy for the sake of design, or vice versa. The best websites have a seamless relationship between the two
- Agility and marketing seasonality mean that you’ll have to regularly update the website with banners and ads
- It’s your role to collate user feedback and opinions on the site design — you can collect data in video format, as well as interview people face-to-face.
Your website should be SO much more than a static brochure. Make it come alive by factoring the human element into your site build and design, and constantly review your achievements, or failures, through their lens.
Victoria Greene is a content consultant. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on how companies can improve the way they represent their brand online. She’s worked with a variety of successful online brands, and now she wants to build her own….