5 Steps to a Harder Working Website

Three Business Blog Team
On: 30 Nov 2017
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better website

A website is as essential to business as a phone or bank account, but a website just for the sake of it is not the answer. Following on from our recent Digital Week 2017 blog, we have another speaker from the week, Three’s User Experience (UX) expert Cliona Browne, to share her tips on ensuring your website is up to its very important job.

1. Be clear on what you want your website to achieve.

Every business needs a website but not every business needs the same website. The first thing you need to know is what you want your website to achieve. Whether your website is already up and running or still an item on your to-do list, being clear on this is what will ensure everything else works as it should.

Are you marketing a new product? Are you entering an existing market with a new proposition? Will you be selling from the site using ecommerce or will your site simply be a “shop window” to encourage customers to contact you in other ways? Whichever is the case, it will have a significant effect on your website’s content and the way it functions.

The easiest way to decide on the kind of website you need and what it should look like, is to write down your answers to the following questions:

  1. Who are my existing customers?
  2. Who are my competitors?
  3. Who are my target customers?
  4. What content and tone of voice should my site have, to (1) reach, (2) challenge and (3) attract the above?

You may already know these answers, but formalising them in writing will help to clarify your own thoughts, as well as give you a useful brief which you can pass on to whoever is designing and creating your website.

2. Responsive design is crucial.

Consumers are increasingly accessing the internet and doing their online shopping from mobile devices. Consumer and business customers’ needs are alike. They are using your site from a smartphone on the train to work and from a laptop in the office. Your website design and functionality must work across all devices.

Since you can’t produce a different website for every device, how can you make your website universally device-friendly? Ideally, you would ensure your website is designed to be device responsive. The next best solution, for those who already have a site and minimal budget or time to have it redesigned is to make some small but significant changes. Limit the home page to provide just enough information to encourage deeper access to the site, but not so much that small-screen users are overwhelmed. Then, from the home page, access to more detailed content should be available with just one or two clicks. Too many links and too much effort provide too many opportunities for visitors to get lost, get bored or simply run out of time.

The trend toward scrolling down through long pages does make it easier to provide information. Long pages can be full of information without requiring any clicks through to other pages, as long as they are broken up into bite-size chunks with headings, images and different text sizes. The more inviting it looks and the easier it is to skim read, the longer people will dwell on the site and the more effectively you can drive them to take whatever next action you require.

3. Familiarise yourself with competitor websites.

Getting to know your competitors’ websites will help you avoid the same mistakes they’re making, learn from what they do right and ensure your site offers visitors a better experience.

4. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) cannot be overlooked.

SEO is possibly the most crucial element of creating and maintaining your website. A cliché in business used to be: “build it and they will come”; well that’s definitely not the case with websites. You need to optimise your site so it can be indexed by search engines, so your customers can find you online.

Without effective SEO, your website will be as effective as a poster hung in a cupboard. It may be brilliant, but no one will see it.

5. Accept that the work never ends.

The content of your site will depend on your product or service and how much or how little you want to tell people about it. The look and feel of your site – including the words and graphics – should be a continuation of your other business communications. This way, your website is another tool to help build your brand. After your site is designed, built and launched (after testing it thoroughly for legibility and functionality on every conceivable device), the job isn’t done. Unlike print material a website is never finished and can always be improved. With the continual learnings you can gain from Google Analytics, you can see what elements are not working and why, and understand how to change them. Continually improving your site has the added benefit of keeping it active, which will prevent it being downgraded by search engines.

After all the hard work you put in, you want your website to gather visits, not dust.

The results from the 2017 Irish Business Mindset Survey are in. Discover interesting and actionable insights from Irish SMEs who are shaping their success with technology. Learn how you too could leverage the latest digital solutions to better meet customer expectations.