Want a Successful Website? Consider These Factors
Have a Glance
What does it take to make a successful website? For most businesses and brands, it won't happen quickly or easily. It will take time, effort, and resources. But that doesn't mean you'll need a huge budget to effectively compete. A successful website is monitored, measured, and improved over time. Your website is what will help you stay top of mind and tops in your respective industry.
From functionality and appearance to navigation and coding integrity, a lot goes into creating an eye-catching, user-friendly website. It doesn't end there, either. Web developers and designers must work together to produce websites that will be located by search engines, engage customers, and stimulate conversions. Whew! That's a lot of pressure. Fortunately, the following 24 tips will guide you through the process of creating a unique user experience that inspires viewers to become loyal brand advocates.
Focus on these 10 critical factors for your website to be successful.
Great domain names (take a look at Google and Yahoo, for two) say so much while saying so little. In addition to being memorable, a domain name needs to accurately reflect your brand's voice and be nearly impossible to misspell. Finding the right name for your brand is crucial, because incorporating a combination of SEO, simple spelling, and brand identity into the domain name leads to a higher chance of being located in search engine results. Simply put, businesses that are easily accessed online get more customers.
When comparing hosting packages, it's vital to consider the nature of your website and business. Will the website be media-rich, with loads of pictures, videos, and presentations? Do you have technical support in-house, or do you need reliable, responsive support from your hosting provider? Also think about the amount of traffic your website will receive. Does the hosting company offer scalable solutions? What backup, security, and additional features are offered? Don't forget to research reviews about the company's performance on social media and third party websites before making a final decision.
Backend Services (CMS "Content Management System" / Software)
It's impossible to develop a great website without a functional program taking care of the backend. If you think of your website as a car, you can understand why. When friends see your shiny new sports car, they look at the sleek paint job, glistening tires, and luxurious leather seating. In the world of websites, this equates to the part of your site a user experiences directly. Just like the powerful engine in your sports car, the backend of your website is where the magic really happens. Without strong backend services, your website won't be able to "wow" your guests. Similarly, a sports car without an engine is rendered useless. One of the best "engines" for ecommerce sites is Magento, while WordPress is a customizable CMS ideal for informational sites.
Effective Color Scheme
Color schemes are more important than customers realize. Different colors have the ability to evoke emotional responses, such as calm, happiness, or frustration. When it comes to using colors in your website design, it's essential to consider your company's niche, target audience, branding, and the elements of color theory. What colors will your target audience respond to? If your color scheme is similar to your logo and branding, is it overwhelming or pleasing to look at? Are you trying to convey your brand's voice with a bright and spunky orange or a professional, calming blue? Regardless of your choice, spending the time to research the best color options will give your visitors a good impression.
Branding is important to all businesses, both large and small. The design and placement of your brand's logo contributes to a viewer's overall opinion. Professionally designed logos successfully catch the customer's eye and provide a clear picture of the brand's unique voice. Choose a location on your site that is readily visible to visitors, such as the upper left corner, since this is where the eye naturally begins to scan a website. To further solidify your brand's identity, consider using the same logo on packaging, print advertising, and branded apparel. When a business is consistent with branding, it provides customers with an integrated and memorable brand experience.
Clearly Define Your Goals
While we should always start a web or marketing project with goals, we need to consider both ourselves and the user with our website.
The site can only generate traffic, leads, and sales when we make sure we have what our target audience wants and we can deliver it for them in a satisfactory way.
Defining goals for both your organization and your user should be easy to do. If the goals don't align, then you'll likely have a problem where you'll seek to make profits yet not be able to deliver the product and experience your audience seeks. It is painful to invest time and money into a site to learn that everyone is bouncing and no one wants or understands why they should buy from you as you focused too much on your end goals and not theirs.
Earn the Trust of Your Audience
Be clear and transparent in what you are offering and what you want your audience to do. Know what motivates them and what you're strong at. Leverage that. Too often websites lack the emotional or credibility connections needed to earn trust and the sale. A prime example that I see often are ecommerce sites (and even service company websites) that lack an About Us page that has substance. Users want to know who they are doing business with and not that you're just another commodity site in the space. If you can't put names, pictures, culture, philosophy, or some type of story on your website, you'll lack the ability to state what you're about. Customers care about your intentions. Even cost-conscious shoppers simply looking for the lowest price need to feel like you're a legit business before plugging in credit card details.
Find Ways to Stand Out
Differentiation is key. You can still use a website template and look different. By customizing imagery and styles tailoring them to your brand, you can stand out.This goes along with earning trust.When you tell your story and create factors like price, quality, customer service, what you do with profits, how you give back, etc., you create the bond needed to stand out from the rest of the templated sites selling the same products or services.
If a website is confusing and difficult to navigate, your customers may leave and never return. To increase the efficiency and appeal of your site's navigation, conduct an in-depth site review as if you are a new visitor. Note the navigation streams that make sense and those that do not. One way to improve a visitor's ability to navigate your site easily (and help search engines crawl your site) is to add a site map. Furthermore, streamlining navigation by eliminating unnecessary or underperforming pages may decrease load time while improving the quality of your brand's online presence.
Focus on Usability & User Experience
Make it easy for your audience to get to the content they want.If you're a viral video website, land users on video pages.If you have products or services, make sure that users can get to the desired page with the fewest clicks possible. In addition to having intuitive main menu navigation optimized for mobile and desktop experiences, think about the placement of your search box and other cues to get to popular content. Don't assume that a user is willing to click several times to get to the latest cat video or the hot selling product that everyone wants.
Short Loading Times
When looking for information online, nothing aggravates visitors more than slow loading times. Customers can be turned away completely due to this issue. Testing your website ahead of time will help you pinpoint any loading time issues, and these can be fixed before your site's official release. To increase customer retention and provide a positive user experience, periodically evaluate your website's loading time once it has launched. Short load times give customers the information they want when they want it. If your site can't deliver, a competitor's site will.
Remember the SEO Fundamentals
This seems like a basic thing, but don't forget about SEO. At minimum, know how the search engines crawl and index your content and ensure the basic on-page factors are optimized. There are lots of ways to make this easy, including through plugins and semantic coding. SEO has technical aspects and goes beyond on-page, but if you can at least ensure your content can be indexed (and is being indexed) and that you are customizing all of the on-page elements to literally represent what your content is and is about, then you can win half the battle.
Test, test, test and test some more! It's important not to downplay the testing of your new website. It's easy to think it's a relatively quick scan through of all pages to see if the content's all there and looks spot on. You should be ensuring that your website looks great, but it's equally as important to test what's happening under the hood. Each and every aspect of the website should be tested to check that all functionality works. Does your contact form return emails to your admin dashboard? Does your payment checkout process work correctly? Is the website looking good and working on all internet browsers and mobile devices? With more devices on the market, the website testing plan should leave enough buffer to accommodate for a plethora of development tweaks and fixes. Your web development team are there to support you through this process so work closely with them to understand delivery expectations during the testing process.
Optimize Your Landing Pages
Landing pages are great tools for campaigns. This includes PPC ads, email promotions, inbound marketing efforts, and more. Having a system that allows for quick creation and customization of landing pages is critical for success if you're doing any marketing. Make sure that your system gives you control and that your site allows you to set indexing status, change navigation, and separate these pages from the normal navigation paths if you're using them for dedicated campaigns outside of navigable normal website content.
Use Your Analytics
Another that seems like a given, but go beyond just installing Google Analytics on your site. You need information on demographics, goal completions, and more that you can't get unless you take a few quick steps to set them up. Don't assume that you can set it and forget it and go back months down the road and see how things are going. You don't have to log into Google Analytics every day. At the very least after getting it customized, set up some reports and alerts that automatically come to you so you have the pulse of what is working anAnother that seems like a given, but go beyond just installing Google Analytics on your site. You need information on demographics, goal completions, and more that you can't get unless you take a few quick steps to set them up. Don't assume that you can set it and forget it and go back months down the road and see how things are going. You don't have to log into Google Analytics every day. At the very least after getting it customized, set up some reports and alerts that automatically come to you so you have the pulse of what is working an
Learn from Heat Mapping
Heat mapping and in-page analytics tools are great sources of additional information on the user experience. Many of the aspects that are critical to website success are UX related. Tools like Lucky Orange (I'm a customer and fan not a compensated endorser) give you insight into how far users are scrolling, where their mouse tracks, how much of a form they complete before bailing, where they get stuck on your website, and a lot more things that Google Analytics can't show you. By monitoring this level of detail you can fix UX hangups and further fine-tune the site to see success.
Make Sure Your Website Works All the Time
Listen & Learn Continuously
Don't assume. We're good and optimizing and learning along the way with marketing. SEO is an ongoing process that includes fine-tuning. Don't let your website be a static place that has a different management philosophy. Listen to your target audience and users and learn. Do this through social media, customer service channels, analytics, heat mapping, and any data and touchpoi Don't assume. We're good and optimizing and learning along the way with marketing. SEO is an ongoing process that includes fine-tuning. Don't let your website be a static place that has a different management philosophy. Listen to your target audience and users and learn. Do this through social media, customer service channels, analytics, heat mapping, and any data and touchpoi
While most of the aspects that lead to a successful website tie into user experience and your brand, it is important to understand and leverage technology, insights, and feedback to optimize and refine your site over time. Remember, optimization isn't just confined to SEO.