Keys to online success

Most businesses these days have some sort of online presence. However, not all are utilizing their valuable web space to profitable ends. In order to make the most of internet opportunities it pays to put careful thought into the content, design and construction of your website. By doing so visitors will not only be driven to your website, they will want to stay and explore and most importantly sales and enquiries will be generated. Here’s our top 7 tips for making your website highly effective…

1  planning is the key

By far the most important stage to having a great website is planning. Once site build begins any changes can cause serious functionality problems. Firstly, write down what you want your website to do for your business and be as specific as possible. For instance, do you want it to generate 50 leads each month or would you like it to answer frequently asked questions that currently clog up your telephone lines? Secondly you need to get into the shoes of your potential customers – what are they looking for when they land on your site? Is it a way to contact you, finding extra special offers, or do they need expert opinions or advice? You want to create pulling power so that once customers arrive they are not eager to leave!

So in essence you need to list the top tasks and design your website specifically around those top tasks. And remember, a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow – set a launch date and get cracking.

2  divine design

New visitors typically give your site 15 seconds to capture their attention – so make the most of it!

Ensure your site design appeals to the specific people you want to attract and that it conveys the character of your business. For instance, if you provide luxury items to an exclusive clientele you website must convey sophistication, trustworthiness, and total competency. On the other hand if you provide fair trade, organic produce you would want to have a look and feel that was honest, eco friendly and straight forward. So its horses for courses – giddy up!

3  make it work

Functionality is about how the site works. If your site looks amazing but is not user friendly visitors will loose interest and very quickly jump to another site. You need to ensure the navigation is clear and straight forward so that users can easily find their way around and get to what interests them. Include strong calls to action which are easily acted upon through a simple click or guided process. Compress high resolution photographs and ditch the waffle – flabby websites download slowly which is a real turn off for visitors. Before it goes live get friends or family to test the site. Double check that all links, forms and images are working correctly.

4  use testimonials

Okay so it’s a big turn off when any company blows it’s own trumpet – and who really believes it anyway, right? However, give your trumpet to your clients to blow on your behalf and its a different story altogether. The use of testimonials is extremely effective in attracting potential customers. Such positive endorsement will reassure clients about the level of service or product they are purchasing and also makes your business stand out against the competition.

5  hey, we’re over here

There are over 230 million websites on the web and more are added every day. So how on earth can anyone find your brilliant site? Enter search engine optimization (SEO)! Search engines are the main method of being found on the world wide web and there are ways to optimise your site to become more attractive to these search engines. One way, for example, is to update content on your site regularly. Search engines like this and it could improve position on results lists. Therefore, frequently revise news, articles, testimonials, images and other significant content as more dynamic sites tend to achieve higher web listings.

6  what the people say

Finding out what it’s like to use your website can be a real eye opener! Just ask few of your target customers to perform a series of tasks that are in line with the key objectives of your website and see what they say. Getting feedback will help you refine your site and fix any glitches.

7  a few no-nos

Avoid these common mistakes to give your site a good start:

  • Do not use entry pages or Flash intros
  • Do not auto play videos or music
  • Do not put text on colours or backgrounds that make it hard to read
  • Do not include navigation that visitors have to work out how to use
  • Do not give in to the urge to fill every space on every page. Leave room to breathe