I have worked with business owners for over 7 years now and to this day it still surprises me how many of them don’t realize the importance of having a professional looking website. Most are under the impression that “I don’t need one, I get all my business word of mouth.” or “We’ve been around forever, everyone knows who we are.”
They don’t fully understand how a professional looking site can benefit their business. However, the most unknown or overlooked factor is the negative impact an outdated, poorly designed, amateur looking website can have on their business. A Stanford web credibility research, according to Kinesis Inc., suggests that 75 percent of consumers admit that they judge businesses’ credibility based on their website design.
Your website matters, whether you believe so or not, the numbers don’t lie. Your website is your online storefront, a third door to your business, an employee that works 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Knowing this, it is vital that your website properly represent your business and the quality of service that you have to offer.
Would you let your employees come into working looking like they just rolled out of bed? I’ll assume the answer is no and if that’s the case you should have the same expectations for your website.
“That’s good to know but what now? What does my website need and where do I start?”
That is a great question and I’m glad you asked! Here are the 7 things every website needs to be effective:
1. Important Business Information
Pretty simple when you think about it but it is an often overlooked aspect. When people visit your website you want to convert that visit into a contact, they can’t contact you if they can’t find that information. The likelihood of them contacting you is pretty much zero. Your phone number, email address, physical address, business hours, etc., need to be in very obvious spots, whether in the header, footer, or on a contact page that can easily be found in the main navigation bar. Your visitors came to your site to get your information not to go on a scavenger hunt, so make it easy to find.
2. Updated, Modern, Professional Design
I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Great motto to live by….terrible motto to apply to your business’ online presence. When it comes to the internet and users visiting your site, looks absolutely do matter. As previously mentioned, your website is your biggest business asset and your best employee. It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. Even when you’re sleeping your website is working. If your website isn’t benefiting your business, it’s not effective.
Hard to navigate, poorly organized, outdated looking websites might as well be a customer acquisition and retention replant. Not only do you risk harming your credibility and missing out on new customers but you also lose credibility with customers who have done business with you before that may be looking to do repeat business with you. Some would argue that “some website presence is better than none” but this type of thinking is what will put you on the fast track to poor credibility and losing business.
It takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave. What first impression is your website giving your visitors?
3. Responsive (Mobile-Friendly) Design
Ever pull up a website on your smartphone and it just looked like a miniature version of the desktop site? You have to pinch to zoom just to read the content, navigate the pages and click on links….did you enjoy that experience? Neither does anyone else who uses their mobile device to view your site. Over 60% of online activity comes from mobile users and 85% of adults think that a company’s website when viewed on a mobile device should be as good or better than its desktop website.
Not only is it important for your user experience but it also plays a major role in your ability to show up in search results. In 2015 Google implemented changes into their algorithm that give websites with responsive, mobile-friendly design better ranking than those without.
4. Quality Content
In the eyes of the search engines, content is king. Not just any content, quality content that has a clear concise message and is easy to read. Writing content just to write it without any clear rhyme or reason for the purpose of “keyword stuffing” will not only lose the interest of the user but is also a big no no in the eyes of the search engines. Long story short, it will do you a lot more harm than good.
Users aren’t visiting your site to read a novel or your autobiography. They are searching for an answer or solution to their problem and if they feel they have to read a book to find it they will go to another website to find their answer. Quality content that’s easy to find and straight to the point is going to result in better conversion rates.
5. Links to Your Social Media
Links to your social media profiles is a great way for your customers to learn more about you and stay current with your business. It gives you extra credibility that you stay current with your online content, giving them confidence that the information they are getting is accurate. Search engines agree, which is why linking your website to your social media profiles and vice versa also help with your ranking in search results. Mind you, it is not enough to just “set it and forget it”. In order for these platforms to help you, you actually have to be somewhat active on them. Posting, sharing news, sharing new projects, etc.
6. Easy to Navigate Menu
Your menu is how users will navigate your website to find the information they are looking for, so it needs to be easy to use. It is important that you make the most vital pages of your website visible but also important to not overload your menu with a tons of pages clustered together. Again, don’t send your user on a scavenger hunt to find the answers they are looking for because most users wont have the patience to stick around long enough to find it on your site, they’ll go somewhere else to find it.
7. Clear Calls to Action
Ultimately, the purpose of your website is to convert the visit into some sort of action from the user. Whether that be a phone call, an email, a form fill, a purchase, an appointment booking, etc. they need to know what you want them to do. If you leave them guessing, the most likely outcome is no action at all…..can we say wasted opportunity!?! This is a very simple concept but one of the most over looked aspects of their website design. If you want a phone call, tell them to call. If you want them to shoot you an email, tell them to email you.
We’ve all heard the saying “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The same applies to your website. Pretty simple when you think about it, but if you don’t tell them what to do and give them direction the most likely outcome will be none at all.
These are just a few of the most important aspects of an effective website. There are many more details and components that go into producing a quality looking website that performs the way you want it to online. Contact Iowa Nice Web Design today and let us take care of those details for you!