The next time you're researching a product or service online and you enter your request into a search engine, ask yourself how much the website you land on weighs in on determining if you pursue that product or service with that company. What factors do you look for in their website that help to convince you that they're the best option to go with?
If a company website is lackluster, outdated, or doesn't look professional, does it then make you question their credibility? Of course it does. Your company website is the "face" of your brand, even if you have a brick-and-mortar location, your online audience's attention span is 3 minutes tops for you to convince them that you're product or service is perfect for them.
First impressions are everything, especially in today's world of so many competing companies doing the same thing you are or selling similar products. Your website is a person's introduction to your brand, such as the business card was before modern technology, your website tells your consumer everything they need to know about your business.
So what is yours telling them? Now, more than ever, visitors to your website have to have a great experience right away, or they will just move on to the next guy (or gal).
That can be a lot of pressure. There's so much that goes into designing and building a fantastic and professional website - especially one that represents you and your business, so it's vital that you get this element right.
Here are some of the most important factors to consider when designing and building out a new professional website up or when improving an existing one:
This may seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many professional websites have terrible website navigation. Making sure that your website has intuitive and easy navigation is one of the most essential elements of a quality website design.
When I say that your website navigation should be intuitive, what I mean is, your users shouldn't struggle to figure out how to use your website or find the products or answers to questions that they're looking for. Use your website navigation as an opportunity to inform visitors on where to go so that you can show them exactly what you want them to see.
Things that work against you:
Confusing menus that don't have an obvious structure to them.
An overwhelming number of options, which creates confusion and communicates a lack of preparedness.
A website layout that doesn't make sense, which can instantly give visitors the wrong idea of your brand.
Clunky or out-dated designs that convince visitors that your brand doesn't have the credibility or legitimacy that it might otherwise have.
Things that make website navigation awesome:
Your navigation bar is concise and free of clutter, and any menus your website has are straightforward and simple to follow.
The consumer's journey is instinctive and purposeful with no excess information or options beyond what's necessary.
Your website's architecture is based around your intended audience, your own branding goals, and whatever content you might create later on.
Modern, responsive layouts that keep up with trends will communicate to your visitors that you're brand is reliable, that you're paying attention and adjusting.
Website Branding, Logos, and Design
Branding is the very core of your business; the nature of who you are and everything you need to relay to the world about your business. Your brand is something that you ought to have well-defined before starting on your website design. Your branding will be the central key to what you do, how you design your website, and the discussions you have through the content you publish.
Your website is the first thing a potential buyer will take a look at, so make sure that everything about it from the font choice, logo design, and even the type of voice and language that you use are consistent with your branding.
Things that work against you:
Your website layout is generic, you use clear stock images with no relevance to them, and your color scheme is random, out of place, or non-existent.
The tone and context of your content varies dramatically from page-to-page, communicating a lack of focus.
Your website copy feels forced, generic, or out of place.
Your logo design does not fit in.
Your website does little to reflect your business or the message you are trying to send.
Things that make branding, logos, and website design awesome:
You've either customized your website layout in-house or hired a marketing agency to do so, however it is custom designed to your branding, colors pallet, font choices, and images - thus accurately reflecting who and what you want your company to be.
Your voice is consistent and confident. It's obvious that you are a thought leader in your industry and your content consistently delivers value and purpose.
The website copy has obviously been written by a person who knows your brand well and can articulate your objective. It isn't too wordy and helps to show a website visitor along in their journey without any fluff or jargon.
Your logo design is a professional representation of your business, and embodies the business's mission, values, and culture.
Your website lets visitors know exactly who you are and what they can gain from interacting with you. It is well branded and presented professionally.
If your website does not function properly, then your website will essentially do nothing for you. People will click away moments after they arrive if it's too slow to load, if it's not easy to use, or if it isn't mobile-friendly. Regardless of top-notch website design trends, technology is high on the list of importance when it comes to a professional website that engages with and keeps users attention.
40% of people say that they'll leave a website if it takes over 3 minutes to load.
And of this same online audience, 56% access websites from their phone, instead of a desktop. What does this mean for you? If your website doesn't do what it's supposed to do people aren't likely to want to use it, and are even more likely not to return.
Things that work against you:
Your website has so much going on that it takes ages to load.
On desktop or tablet your website looks great, but it isn't optimized for mobile and information is lost or jumbled when visitors access your website from their mobile devices.
Your customers aren't sure where to find the info they're searching for and spend too much time browsing its cluttered, confusing layout.
Things that make website functionality awesome:
Your domain service is rock solid and you have very few plugins, custom programs, video media, and whatever else might be slowing down your load speeds.
Your entire website shows up beautifully on a mobile device. Information is readily available and easily digested through the layout and design choices.
Simple, clean, and professional are the most sought after in today's website trends. Your website should be free of clunky layering, unnecessary add-ons, or webpages that distract from the real purpose of your website. A visitor should know exactly where to start on the website and end up where they should when their journey is over. There should be clear calls to action, contact information should be easy to find, and significant details such as pricing and testimonials should be front and center.
Make sure your website is accurately portraying what you want it to say to your audience. Don't let a poorly designed website (or lack thereof) give consumers the wrong idea or turn them off to buying your goods or services simply because your website isn't great.
If you need revisions to your current website, want or need an entirely new website, or just need an expert to take a look and see what your website says about your business - touch base with us at The Hive Marketing Collective and we'll help you to get your branding consistent, your voice heard, and your website on point.