The days of the static website are over. The ever-changing digital age demands more. Today’s customers love to research their options, and they have grown accustomed to eye-catching, well-organized and fast digital experiences.
To answer the question, “Do I have a good website?” you must first understand:
- how your website makes you money
- how your website is a resource for sales, marketing and customer service
- how your website is the ultimate brand experience for your business or organization
If you’re reading this blog, your website might not be as effective as you’d like. Consider this information a first step to your company’s website redesign project or to your startup’s newly launched digital storefront. We will walk you through best practices for design, information flow and content planning.
Does your website make you money?
This is a question every business or organization should be able to answer — even if your website isn’t an online shop.
Service-oriented businesses can shorten lead times with easy explanations on how their services work, messaging that pivots on value vs. cost and offering proof of results, such as case studies and testimonials.
A website with well-curated, helpful information can make money by saving money. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies, for instance, can reduce administrative costs by answering the public’s questions before they pick up the phone.
For example, when we designed The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office new website, we sought simple ways to provide important information upfront. We added Frequently Asked Questions throughout the website, including a “How do I …?” section available in the main menu. We also added dynamic online forms with custom notifications and e-mail confirmations to make communicating with the public easier.
On the other end of the spectrum, online retail shops can be major money makers if the website is optimized and marketed well. With Etsy, Amazon and other niche online retailers laser-focused on the customer experience, mom and pop e-commerce stores can find it difficult to compete in the market. That’s why more retail shops offer discounts or freebies to shop on their websites.
Is your website a sales, marketing and customer service tool?
When The Society of Bluffton Artists (SOBA), a non-profit art organization in Bluffton SC, went through a website redesign, great care was taken into simplifying and enhancing the digital experience for their artist members. The membership pages homed in on the value of joining their organization with bullet points of benefits, Frequently Asked Questions and photos of active members in action.
Going a step further, SOBA’s new website offers a member directory with photos, links to members’ websites and social media, contact information and bios. They also prominently spotlight their monthly Featured Artist exhibits on the homepage — which promotes their members while offering the public up-to-date event information.
A good website can become a great sales tool. Chris Hervochon of A Better Way CPA, for instance, uses his website to offer loads of free ebooks, guides and on-demand webinars in exchange for contact information. The free information provides value for potential customers and shows off Chris’ expert knowledge in his industry.
In marketing speak, these landing pages with online sign-up forms are called lead magnets. When someone willingly gives you their email, that means they want to hear more from you. Send them regular (not annoyingly frequent) e-mails that educate and promote your services until they’re ready to make a buying decision. Meanwhile, promote the lead magnets on social media to attract more potential customers to your website.
As a customer service tool, a well-written website means you have well-informed customers. According to Google, 53% of shoppers say they always do research before they buy to ensure they are making the best possible choice. Teach your audience how to become good customers by pulling back the curtain on:
- your company’s process for fulfilling orders or services
- your company’s policy on returns and refunds
- your company’s advice on how to preserve a product or how to get the most of your services
An online help section or even blogs geared toward the customer experience will go a long way in attracting new customers and keeping the customers you have.
Affordable website design with a process that works for you.
Is your website an accurate portrayal of your brand?
For many businesses and organizations, the website is the first touch experience your audience will have with your brand. In other words, “You only get once to make a first impression.” Before the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office website redesign, the former website featured a lot of primary colors. However, the Sheriff’s Office uniforms sport more earth tones. The new website sought to break that disconnect with brand consistent design.
In terms of design, we have a general rule at Bragg Media, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” An overly designed website with lots of drop shadows, cluttered graphics and multiple fonts can break trust with end users because it can leave them feeling confused. Good website design strives for simplicity and eye-catching graphics that are on point with your brand’s typography and colors.
This same concept can be applied to functionality, animation and layout as well. A website loaded with multiple transitions can actually slow a website down. Google frowns on websites with complex layouts and layouts that shift as they load. They’re taking these factors — Core Web Vitals — into consideration when ranking a website in search results.
No one wants to hunt and peck for information. Before the Bragg Media team begins the design process, we map out how the information should flow throughout the website. Don’t distract your audience with a header full of multiple buttons or calls to action. Make it easy for them to buy from you with succinct action words, clean layout and links to other important areas of your website.
Perhaps the most overlooked part of website design is the customer buy-in. Why should someone do business with you? Why should your audience trust you? What do you stand for? When it comes to marketing and communications, the buy-in is the most important concept — because the best customer is a brand ambassador.