A great looking website is so important for capturing your visitors' attention, but a great small business website needs to do even more than just look good.
There's making sure you consider how the user's behave in the design process that needs to be considered as well as the underlying optimisations which need to be in place before even considering look and feel.
There's what the website needs to achieve as well as what it needs to be captured too. Here we list a few of the elements that need to be considered with just as much importance as looking good:
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital part of a great website. With over 1.8 billion websites out there, there is a huge amount of choice for internet users. You can just about guarantee that whatever your business does, there is already a multitude of websites out there for the same thing. You need to make sure that your website is being found by search engines.
Optimising for search engines makes your website easy to use, quick to load and relevant to what searchers are looking for. If these things aren't considered as part of your web design, then you can't expect search engines to index you correctly or rank you highly. If your website is not indexed or ranked well, it won't be returned prominently when searchers search and no one will visit.
SEO really is a major part of having a successful website, without it, it's like having a beautiful picture hanging in an empty gallery.
UX refers to user experience and is vitally important in ensuring visitors to your web stay and engage. Any barrier to using a website increases the chance of a user leaving and going to a competitor. A good user experience is what keeps a visitor on a page, keeps them coming back and sharing their experience.
A website with good UX will be simple to use with a clear navigational structure to allow users to easily explore. It may gently direct visitors down a path of conversion into leads, without being too pushy. It will use the language that the audience is used to and provide content that both engages and is memorable.
It's not a given that a great looking website has a good user experience; I've been on plenty of websites where I've been wowed by design, but then got lost in the navigation and ultimately frustrated by the experience.
In a digital age, it's likely that your website is your number one brand ambassador. It sits on the internet, amongst your competitors and is a beacon for all that is great and good about your brand and your business.
It goes without saying it has to look good to do this, but it's also vital that your website is consistent with your brand, that it speaks the right language for your audience and conveys the quality of your business.
I've seen plenty of great businesses with quality products who have outdated, non-responsive websites which really aren't a great advertisement at all.
Ensuring your online, as well as offline, brand is consistent is vitally important for continuing to grow your brand recognition and awareness. By making your website a shining brand example you will have a core resource to measure all your other online marketing efforts against.
Digital marketing hub
Your website should act as your digital marketing hub to which all your other online, and offline where relevant, marketing efforts can point.
Social media is a great place to increase brand awareness and by sharing website content on these platforms you can vastly increase the reach of your content and brand. It's important, however, to make sure your social media efforts and sharing are regularly pointing people back to your website.
Share a link and a teaser about a new product or project, encouraging the visitor to read more on your website. Once on your website, you can further engage and directly appeal to that already interested party.
Taking your visitors away from their social media takes them away from the distraction of a new post from a friend, or even a retargeted advert for a similar product or service, so they can fully focus on your business and what you have to offer.
Lead generation tool
Having got interested parties to your website, turning them into identifiable leads is the next step in ensuring your website does more for your business than look pretty.
Having a very simple lead capture form for interested parties to request a callback is a great idea. For those not quite at that stage, you can offer some insightful information or a discount worthy of them parting with their email address, from which you can start to build an email marketing list (obtaining the right consents obviously).
With contact details, you can start to nurture that lead through your sales process with the ultimate goal of creating a new happy customer.
These are just some of the underlying elements that lead towards a successful, lead generating website. If you would like to talk to us about your website and how we can help you maximise its potential, please don't hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.