Your business’s website is a crucial component of both your branding and your business operations. If it is an e-commerce site it may literally be the life and soul of your business, or it could be a marketing tool which acts to promote your product and services, or is a portfolio or a host for your blog content. Whatever purpose your website has, it is not enough to simply be online, there are ways you can also be effective online.
A website can be a million different things, and no two are the same, but there are some critical elements that are common between all good websites and which your site must achieve, it must be engaging, informative and easy to navigate. In simple terms it needs to look good but also be functional. So how do you achieve this? Here are the vital steps you need to take:
Get a designer
Building a website can a technical challenge. Before you even start you need things like web hosting, a domain name, SSL certificate, web-building software and SEO knowledge. If you can handle all that, great, but a professional web designer will be able to deal with all that quickly for you and can then work with you to build the site how you want it.
What is the purpose?
The first step in building a website is understanding who the site is for. Who is your audience? What are they expecting from your site and how do you want them to use it? Is it for downloads? Sales? Bookings? Or is just for engagement and promoting your brand? What you want your website to do will drive your content and design strategy.
Incorporate your branding
Your website is an extension of your branding and it can impact upon it, so it needs to align with it first and foremost. Colours, fonts and images need to reflect your audience just as your brand does. You should use one primary colour in your website design and maybe two complimentary colours for text and other design elements. You need consistency between your website design and the branding visuals used on your logo design, packaging design and social media. Also you should use appropriate fonts for content, such as formal and authoritative or modern and creative. Images should be high quality, relevant and should add something to the site.
Choose a theme
Most websites are built using one of a range of pre-built themes. These dictate the general layout and how you want the site to function with integral features. Your web designer can obviously help with this, but essentially, the theme needs to be practical in terms of the purpose of your site.
Plan the site
This is where you work out what pages you need and start to build your content and how it links together. Most sites have standard pages such as Home, About, Product/Services, Blogs/News and Contact, and you can add others that are business specific such as FAQs and testimonials or reviews. You have free rein here to some extent, but be careful not to overload the pages and be too content-heavy. Your site needs to be clutter-free to be engaging and it needs to be easy to navigate, so having too many pages and too much content can start to impact on that.
Now the web designer can get to work and build the site based on your site plan and branding. This should include headers and footers, a search function and a map function as essential features, and should also include SEO techniques and design elements such as opening external links on new pages so users are not navigated off your site.
Test the site
Once the site is built you should extensively test it to mimic how a user would land upon and engage with your site, so check load times for pages and images, check how easy the content is to read and digest, is the most important information easily accessible? Are users directed to sales or booking functions easily? You can also test that all your links work, how responsive the site is on other devices such as mobile, desktop and tablets, and you can test whether contact forms work correctly. The general user experience is where your site will succeed or fail, so as well as testing yourself, let friends and family use the site and listen to their feedback. They don’t have to be web design experts to offer meaningful comments, because they are an example of how an everyday user will navigate around your site, so their experience is extremely relevant.
Optimise the site
Even if your website is designed, tested, uploaded and live, it is never finished. A website needs to be a live document and a work-in-progress that you are always monitoring and improving. As well as adding new content and new products and services, you need to tweak elements such as load times, links that are broken and SEO features. You need to check the performance of your site with a web analytics tool. This will be able to tell you if the site is performing as you want it to. Are you getting the sales you need? Are people finding your site in the way you expected them to? Are they engaging with the content or quickly leaving the site to browse elsewhere? You can only hope to improve the site if you can see how it is performing, so a post-design analytics tool is essential.
If you want a professional website designer then contact Rebus branding agency and I can work with you to extend your brand and build an engaging and functional website that will help to grow your business.