It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because you have a website, that in itself is enough to cover the online marketing side of your business.
For the large majority of businesses their website will have become their most important marketing tool, providing easy access to information about the businesses products or services 24 hours a day. However, if you get it wrong this opportunity can lose you vital customers.
One of the simplest ways to measure the effectiveness of your website is to monitor its 'bounce rate'. In your website statistics package (such as Google analytics) the bounce rate is measured as a percentage and represents visitors to the home page of your website who then leave without viewing other pages.
Whilst there are valid reasons a visitor to your website may only visit your home page for a short period of time, such as those who simply need your phone number or address, if you have a high bounce rate, it is far more likely that your website is not engaging enough and is therefore putting people off from drilling down further into the site. To help stop losing these potential customers it is therefore important to improve your bounce rate.
Over the 16 years Advanced Web Designs have been designing and developing websites, we have identified three key elements which must be right in order to ensure bounce rates are improved and businesses are getting the most from their website.
There will of course be many other considerations depending on the market the website is aimed at, however the three areas I cover below will be of primary importance no matter what the aims of the website are, the marketplace it is geared towards or the target demographic.
Everyone in business should know the importance of having a website. It's often a potential customer's first interaction with a company and so it's no longer good enough to simply have a web presence, it needs to be something that these potential customers can instantly relate to.
So what do I mean by perception? As we know there is a famous proverb which tells us 'never judge a book by the cover'. Whilst we know this to be true it is built into the human psyche to be more inquisitive about something that we are instantly attracted to.
In the same way that the cover of the book we are attracted to in no way suggests the content will be any good, it certainly encourages us to read the blurb and will undoubtedly lead to increased sales of the book.
Your website is no different and therefore must immediately appeal to your target market. It is of utmost importance that the perception created by your website is not only appealing, but also accurately portrays your business as the professional company it is.
One of the main messages most companies want to get across to website visitors is that they are professional, reliable and truly good at what they do, but it's not necessarily an easy message to get across. However, having a professionally designed, modern website can go a long way towards endorsing that message.
Perception in this instance isn't necessarily about creating an illusion that your company is bigger or better than it actually is, it's about ensuring that visitors to your website, which may well be potential customers, get the correct first impression.
There is good research which suggests you have seven seconds to impress a new visitor to your website, although personally I believe the initial perception is created even quicker than that. Therefore, it is hugely important for you to regularly review and critique your website to ensure the perception it is giving of your business, is in line with the reality of your business.
There are many ways in which this can be achieved but it is important that you fully understand your target market so that your website can at least meet, or better still, exceed their expectations of your business.
For most companies this will be achieved by offering a modern and responsive (mobile friendly) design, with a correct balance of imagery and copy appropriate to the industry, and incorporating visually stimulating and relevant 'user experience' features designed to engage with, and motivate the user.
Whilst the perception of a website can be difficult to get right based on the fact design is very subjective, good navigation is something that can be far easier achieved.
It is extremely important that visitors to your website can navigate to the information they are interested in as simply and quickly as possible.
In order to do this it is important to correctly identify which areas should be considered as the top-level navigation and which can be sub-categorised to fall under these.
Where necessary, key navigation areas can be doubled up by providing additional links through more dedicated 'featured' areas on the home page and throughout the website.
Navigation to sub-pages need to be carefully considered. If there are many sub-categories falling under a top-level navigation category, a 'drop-down' of options may not be the solution. In this instance it would be better for visitors to click on the main navigation item and be taken to an internal page with a suitable layout to show all of the options.
Try to avoid using multiple navigation areas and where possible try to keep all options available in one place, typically horizontally across the top of the page, although if the width is restrictive, in a menu panel to the left of the page.
Don't try to reinvent the wheel by placing key navigation on areas of the website where traditionally navigation is not found - all this does is confuse the user and create frustration, which in the worst case may lead the visitor to leave the site.
Finally, don't try to be too clever with your navigation and always consider the fact that visitors to your website may not be regular users of the Internet. Therefore, try to use standard terms rather than specific industry jargon and avoid using icon sets for navigation; what most people may understand as a universal icon representing a specific navigation area, it will not necessarily be understood by all the visitors to your website.
When a visitor to the website has navigated to the page containing the information they are interested in, it is important for the information provided to be clear and concise.
This does not necessarily mean the information provided has to be minimal as it must provide the visitor with everything they need, and this can differ considerably depending on the product or service being offered.
If you're selling a product like clothing, information such as the material used could be as simple as saying it is 100% cotton, on the other hand technical clothing for mountaineers would need to provide details about the specific properties, such as being waterproof, windproof, breathable, fast wicking, lightweight etc. and often backed up with images or diagrams detailing each property.
The same can be said for websites promoting services, some services lend themselves to being easily explained, such as car washing, dog walking or a barbershop, where as others such as financial or legal services would need far more detailed information.
Getting the balance right is not always as easy as it sounds, particularly with products that whilst easily summed up, also come with a large amount of additional information that some visitors to the website may want to access.
For these types of products or services it is best to initially show a more general summary, and then provide additional areas where more technical information can be accessed by those visitors requiring it.
Good examples of where this method is regularly used can be seen on websites selling items such as televisions or cars. When selling a television, the main information provided may be a simple as: Panasonic - 48 inch - LED - 4K - Smart TV. This information alone may be enough to secure a purchase. However, particularly with higher priced ticket items, a simple overview will not be enough information for many people to make that decision and so it is important to provide additional information such as product features, specification and customer reviews.
Information is not all simply about the copy, and to coin another phrase 'a picture tells a thousand words', so to back up the information which has been provided, make sure relevant images (or video) are used showing the product and detailing any of the key features. It is also worth providing full information on downloadable PDF's for visitors to print of and read at their leisure.
Infographics are another beneficial way to display information such as a process and are often used to help explain how more technical products, methods or services work.
Ultimately, whatever information you need to provide and however you provide it, needs to be carefully thought out and geared to the market you are aiming at.
Most importantly - cut the waffle and get to the point.
I would never recommend a business not to have a website, however there are many companies whose websites are so poor, they may actually be better off without one!
If your business has an old website, I would urge you to review it, better still, get someone else to do it for you...and allow them to be honest!
If you believe your website correctly represents your business, that's great, although do check the bounce rate to make sure your opinion is backed up by the statistics.
If you feel that your company could benefit from a website that creates a more accurate perception of your business, please don't hesitate to contact us.
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