First impressions last a lifetime.
Your website is where almost all of your customers will end up first. Let's clear up what it takes to give them the best experience with it.
Not long ago, designing a website yourself was a real pain in the neck. It was very complicated, required big knowledge and most of all ended up looking ugly at best... However, thanks to new solutions like online website builders, this is no longer the case. Nowadays, anyone with a computer and some ideas can make a website in just a few clicks!
But that means that there are thousands of well-designed websites to visit, with fierce competition making it more difficult catching visitors' eyes. So if you want to be at the top of the list, you'd better make something that stands out. So, if you're a non expert trying to get your hand on a do-it-yourself website, read on!
Here are some recommendations you should follow :
1. Know who you are aiming at
First, you have to know who your real audience is. Only a portion of your website's visitors will actually become your customers, so create your website with them in mind. Speak their language and show them what they want to see.
If you have the chance to address people having different mother tongue, don't think that, because they might all talk English, an English site will make the cut. You can start with that, but at some point you will need to have your Website in the native language of your target audience.
2. Be clear on what you're offering
Ensure that anyone who comes to your website knows exactly what you are selling or what services you provide. It shouldn't take more than a few seconds for your visitors to know what the core of your business is. If they don’t get it quickly and easily, they will simply leave. This is the most basic tip but actually the most often forgotten. So many Websites solely talk about the benefits they offer (e.g., Reduce your costs), or some sort of superior mission, and forget to explain in a few words who they are (e.g., consulting vs software editor) and what they sell.
3. Style it right
Your website should support the products or services you sell. It's your virtual storefront. Style it in a way that reflects your products, and that allows people to engage with you.
For example, if you sell hi-tech products, you should choose fonts and layouts that have a techie look. If you sell high-end products, your site should reflect the class and luxury of your goods.
If you're not quite sure what to choose, use templates and layouts as a basis and customize them.
4. Keep it simple
People are always in a hurry and will literally fly through your website. If you want them to order something from you, make their journey smooth and easy. Design your website so that it feels simple and well-organised. Build menus that lead to the relevant content in just one click. You don't need to put all your content in there, put what is needed to convince a visitor of making the next step (an online purchase, filling in a form,...), and nothing more.
5. Make it fast and light
A long loading time is a the biggest obstacle to your visitors and will turn them off. If your image files are too big and take too long to load, people will get fed up of waiting to see them or surf your site - and you can kiss them (and their money) goodbye. Make sure that your images, videos and all other content is optimized for the web. Once again, you can use templates to structure of your website as they have already been optimized to load quickly. Many Websites builders will as well optimize your media files automatically.
Bear in mind that you have about five seconds to get your message across to your website's visitors.
6. Use key products (or services) to attract and reel in visitors
Be eye-catching. Most of your visitors will come to your website because you have something others don't. Put that item on the front page and highlight it in other sections as well. Then, it will be easier to suggest related products that may spark your customers' interest once they have what they came for in the first place. An advanced tip ? Create specific landing pages based on the queries from Google you want to attract or are currently attracting (Google Webmaster tools can help with that).
7. Show your unique added value
Although it’s important to show visitors what you do, the second most important objective is to show what you can do for them. People are looking for more than just an item or service to buy - they want to know what makes you different than the others. Is it the price ? The service ? The user experience on the Website ? Sometimes you just need to show, not tell, but many times you need to actually tell the prospect what you stand for.
This is what Marketers usually call "Unique Selling Proposition" or USP. Whether you sell products or services, what will bring more satisfaction to your customers is what they gain from choosing you above another seller. Think about what they want even before they do!
8. Give good visibility to your contact details
Some of your customers will want to contact you. Make sure that your contact details are easy to find and that you can answer quickly. If the number of emails that you receive becomes too large for you to reply to quickly, consider a mail management system. It will help you continue to respond rapidly, keep track of every enquiry and maintain customer satisfaction.
It may sound obvious, but I've come across many companies that had their phone number hidden somewhere in the website. Some of your customers will want to get an answer faster than you can provide it by email and some customers just prefer to call you. If you can support it, install a 'live chat' on your Website too.
9. Be portable
These days, some of your website's visitors will definitely be using their smartphones and tablets rather than their laptops or desktop computers. Don't miss out on the opportunity to reach the people on mobile devices. Your website should have a mobile version or be mobile-friendly - this usually only takes a little extra effort when building your site, and sometimes none! Don't put too much stuff on one page. Keep it simple, user-friendly and most importantly light, as people will probably be using their mobile data (3G or 4G). If they feel it will cost them too much or waste too much time, they will leave and probably not come back with their mobile device.
10. Get referenced
A large number of people visiting your website may have used a search engine (like Google, Yahoo or Bing) to find your page. As we all know, a Google search normally produces thousands of results. So, it's best for your website to be on the first page and as close to the top as possible. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what people use to achieve this. The principle is easy - keywords in your pages are linked to keywords in searches. In reality, SEO is not that easy, and based on lots of factor that Google does not necessarily disclose. But there are 3 main points you should remember even as a non-specialist:
- Links to your pages matter,
- Searched for, relevant keywords & quality content on your page matter
- Other signals that your content is relevant & readable will help: social media sharing, mobile friendliness, correct page structure (like headings,..), etc.
Choose your website builder wisely: only a few will suggest you keywords related to your content.
When you're done creating your website, there's just one final step:
Ok, so I know this is technically an 11th step, but you wanna take your website to the next level right? To really hit the ball out of the park, stay with me, keep reading and go that extra mile - trust me, it's worth it.
Your website is intended to work for your visitors, so it's important to make sure they like it. Ask people you know to give your website a try and tell you what works, what doesn't, and what could be improved. Once your website is published, keep track of your visits and especially of the most visited pages by using analytics tools. If something in particular is catching your visitors' attention, that is the thing you should highlight on your website.
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