Your website is your business card to the world and, as such, you want it to successfully portray what you do. Whatever your line of work may be, your website needs to tell site guests your story and how you can help them. This “storytelling” may be accomplished through a variety of methods – words, pictures, graphics, video, etc. – all designed to encourage people to choose your services rather than those of your competitors.
So how do you go about creating a website that successfully reaches your target audience? What elements does an effective website include? Is there a special trade secret that needs to be followed? The answers to these questions may vary depending on who you ask; a web designer, a graphics specialist and a writer will have differing points of view – all of them valid.
For a “wired, not tired” website, we recommend 13 elements. Take a look to see how your site fares.
13 C’s of a Successful Website
Contrast – This refers to textures and styling that make your website stand out and look appealing to your guests. There are a number of ways to obtain contrast; color-scheme, fonts or interactive elements are just a few. Contrast influences where the guests’ eyes focus, so it is important to use contrasting elements with care.
Composition – Look at your website through the eyes of a first time guest (or ask someone to look at your website for the first time and give you feedback). Would a first time visitor easily find important information? Would he/she find the site appealing? Composition considers the “flow” or ease of use of your site. Large blocks of text are generally turn-offs; if your site is word-heavy, consider a new approach. If your site is difficult to navigate, guests may quickly leave and never return.
Content – Content is critical. To make the grade in this area, use a variety of content (text, images, video, webinars, podcasts, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) and update it regularly. This keeps guests coming back to read what’s new and gives your site more favorable results with the search engines.
Company information – Keep your “About Us” page up to date and easy to find. Use this page to describe your brand, and give your company a “face” by posting photos of key staff members.
Connected with social sharing – More than ways to connect with your friends, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and all the other social networks are great tools to promote your business. Make it easy for people to share your content by including social share buttons on your site. A post shared by one of your guests might result in a new customer.
Contact page – Keep contact information correct, up to date and easily accessible so website guests are able to reach you by phone or email.
Company blog, podcasts, webinars – These elements are great ways to add new content to your site on a regular basis. Before committing to any one of them, you’ll need a plan for how you will update it and how often. Don’t take on more than you are prepared to follow through on consistently. If you don’t have time to create the posts yourself, you can hire professional content developers to help you. Select them carefully. The web designers at Page Progressive have staff members and partners who are happy to help with this.
Calls to Action – Engage your reader and encourage them to respond by incorporating a call to action. Keep your main goal or purpose clear to your readers and repeat it frequently. Create an “opt-in” box in a sidebar or footer and use links to it throughout your site. For e-commerce sites, make your payment page easily accessible by using “call to action” or payment buttons.
Correct keyword research – This “c” is considered by many to be the most important step in creating a successful website. Tools such as Google’s Keyword Tool help you determine the most popular search terms used to find the kind of services you offer. Identifying and using these “key” words strategically on your site will help more potential customers find you. Known as “organic search,” this is still the primary means for generating site traffic.
Categories – Have a navigation bar with broad categories that branch off into more specific ones. Many experts recommend avoiding drop down menus as these can be awkward to use.
Consistency – Keep the look of each page consistent by using a common font type, color scheme and layout template.
Compatibility – Some studies show that 30 percent or more of internet browsing is done on tablets, smart phones and iPods, and this percentage is increasing every day. Now’s the time to incorporate changes to make your site compatible with these devices. Options for doing so include using a responsive theme or creating a dedicated mobile site. If you have questions about compatibility, contact Page Progressive. We can help you find the best option for making your site accessible and user-friendly for mobile device browsers.
Credibility – Proving your reliability is a must, since many consumers are cautious about using online businesses (and rightly so). Demonstrate your trustworthiness by posting testimonials from satisfied customers, before and after photos of problems solved or services rendered, awards won by your company or staff, money-back guarantees, memberships to reputable associations, and media coverage (TV, radio, print or online) of your business.
In addition to considering these 13 C’s, here are three elements to avoid.
- Flash and animations – Search engines cannot read these, and they do not work well with mobile devices.
- Typography and font colors difficult to read – Choose your font size and colors thoughtfully, and consider using bullets, short paragraphs and empty space for best readability.
- Clutter – More is rarely better. Use images, videos and animation sparingly. They may look cool, but they can easily be overkill. If an image or video communicates a key point and contributes to your message, then it’s likely worth using. If it doesn’t enhance the content, avoid using it.
Does your website get a passing grade on the 13 C’s? If so, then congratulations. Your site is likely “wired.” If it’s missing the mark on multiple factors, then it is time to send your tired website a wakeup call.
Page Progressive has many years of experience with designing successful websites. If you want to move your website from tired to wired, contact us. We’re here to help.
*Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net