Does your business’ website pack a punch… or is it plainly plodding along?
A website has the potential to be one of a business’ greatest ambassadors. Why is it, then, that so many seem to just sit there like some sort of afterthought? Some are unsightly. Others simply go unseen. And they rarely see much in the way of production.
An effective business website requires planning and commitment. To make your website stand out and function as an active member of your company, you need to ensure that it has “The Three Ps” of a great web design. Your website must be:
Polished – Don’t let anyone tell you that looks don’t matter. When it comes to a website, the look is a very important factor. This goes well beyond it being “pretty.” There are a number of aspects of your site to consider.
Color Scheme – As funny as it may seem, people do respond to color. Choosing awful colors for your website is something of a sin against your viewers. No one will want to look for very long at a site with colors that are off-putting or, in some cases, even painful to the eyes. First, and very importantly, consider your choice of background colors. Avoid excessively bright colors such as yellow for your pages’ backgrounds. They can actually cause your viewers to experience eyestrain (right before they navigate away from your website altogether). Backgrounds that have lighter colors, rather than heavily saturated ones, lets your content and graphics have a feel that is dynamic and allows for ease in reading. Second, be aware of the color(s) you choose for your fonts. To ensure optimal readability, choose font colors that contrast with the background. Finally, consider your color themes in relation to the nature of your business. Would a funeral director use circus big top colors in his or her website? Highly unlikely. A bereaved family might find it lacking in decorum and be repelled. There are different opinions regarding the psychology of color, however some research into what kind of colors to which your target market will respond is an excellent first step.
- Fonts – Remember this: It Must Be Easily Readable! That Edwardian Script may set just the mood you’d like for your Salon’s website, but stop and rethink that. Fonts that are overly stylized or small do your business no favors when your viewers cannot read them. Your text must be clear and inviting, not migraine-inducing.
- Ease of Use – While this seems at first glance to be less of an aesthetic consideration and more of a functionality issue, ease of use will manifest itself in a website that looks clear and uncluttered. Visible, well-marked links and an accurate site map help customers avoid that “lost in the woods” feeling that causes them to seek other, less confusing sites. And those slow-loading, bulky files and excessively long pages that take forever to load will lose you customers as if you were driving them away with a stick! Did you know that 47% of customers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less? The selection of graphics that are effective as well as quick loading is crucial to keeping website visitors engaged.
- Correctness – “My business isn’t about writing. What difference does spelling make?” You would be amazed. Carelessness in spelling, grammar, and punctuation does not go unnoticed and it speaks volumes. It can create an impression, fairly or not, that this is the way you operate your business. Clear, organized, and error-free content not only conveys your message accurately, but it also demonstrates the seriousness with which you do your job.
Popular – Even the most well designed website is only as effective as the number of potential customers it reaches. The objective is not merely to get your website seen, but to have it seen by the people who will likely become your customers. Just like the designing of your website, the promotion of it also needs to be well-planned.
- Know SEO – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often a thorn in the side of many business owners, and yet it cannot be ignored. Focusing your content on keywords related to your topic, avoiding duplicate content, and frequently providing fresh, relevant content will increase your search engine ranking, resulting in more hits and improved profits. If you are unsure of what keywords would be best to highlight, there are useful online SEO tools that are helpful. Also, it may prove enlightening to simply ask people what words they would enter for a search for your product or service. SEO is not as easy as it sounds, however, as the algorithms will often change, and many business owners opt to seek help from their site designer.
- Go Social – We’ve addressed this here many times, yet I cannot over-emphasize it. Social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) are highly useful when it comes to promoting your website and your business. The key is in knowing which ones your potential customers frequent and focusing on those.
- Offer Valuable Freebies – You are an expert in your field, so why not share your knowledge? A professional blog is a popular and effective means of doing this. Offering people a free guide or newsletter is not only a marvelous goodwill gesture, but it also confirms that you are an authority on whom they can rely. Even more exciting and dynamic is the notion of the free tele-class or how-to video that not only shares your expertise, but it also puts you on a more personal level with potential customers.
Profitable – You didn’t create this website to act as eye-candy. Its purpose is to actively increase your bottom line. You are already doing your part for your site by providing fresh, meaningful content, offering freebies, and promoting it well. Now it’s time for your website to pull its own weight. It achieves this through monetization. In its simplest terms, it means converting website traffic into dollars. When done deftly and with attention to style, placement, and relevance, this can be an effective way to have your website bring in money purely on its own merits. Bear in mind that different methods work well for different businesses. Here are some of the more popular and successful monetization strategies:
- Banners or Side Advertisements – By using analytics to demonstrate to potential advertisers that you do have traffic coming to your site, you may be able to persuade them to take out ad space on your website. The better your analytics are, the more you can charge.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Cost-Per-1000 Impressions (CPM) Ads – These programs are usually free to join. Ad networks will send ads that are related to the content found on your website. With PPC, you earn money when your visitors click on those ads. With CPM, you get paid every time an ad is served regardless of the number of clicks.
- Premium Membership Content – Begin by offering some free information on your website to interest your readers, then ask them to sign up and pay for a subscription to your more in-depth information or specialized service. Depending on the type of products or services you provide, this could be a viable solution for your business.
- Online Books – If you choose to write a book related to your business, consider making it an e-book. This would enable customers to purchase and download it from your website, saving you a lot of money in publishing costs.
To be sure, effective, moneymaking websites do not simply “happen.” They are prudently planned and purposefully promoted. If you have a website and it isn’t proving its potential, probe it more profoundly with “The Three Ps” of a great website. Your profits will be prominent!
This post is from Bola Olonisakin, Creative Head & Online Strategist at GTechDesigns LLC. Bola specializes in web design and development techniques, standards and methodology. She works to enable organizations to grow their web strategy and increase the visibility of their websites. If you’re interested in improving your web presence, feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or @gtechdesigns on Twitter. This post was originally posted at www.gtechdesigns.com.