18 Aug Why you need a great website and what makes it one?
Here’s why you need a great website. Bill Clinton once said, “When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the Worldwide Web . . . Now even my cat has its own page.”
In the time that you’ve taken to read the quote from Bill Clinton atleast 4 websites have been registered (i.e. 1 website registration per second). Most of the websites have one goal in mind that is “conversion.” By conversion we mean an actual sale happening either on the website or off the website. What most of the website owners should realize is that the website is their virtual office. One, which will help their clients to educate, market their company and sell their product or service. This may not be true for all the websites out there, which has led to low conversion rates.
When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the Worldwide Web . . . Now even my cat has its own page - Bill Clinton
What’s also important is to get the branding of the website right. This is because people form perception. If your website doesn’t depict an accurate picture of what your company is, there will be a disconnect on what it claims and what it is seen as. Here’s a great example below from Shama Kabani, author of the book “The Zen of Social Media Marketing,” on the importance of having a great website.
Let’s say you meet a guy at a party, and he is dressed to the nines. He tells you that he helps business owners triple their income. You also hear from someone else that he is a successful business consultant. You chat with him for a few minutes, and you are impressed! This guy looks like the epitome of success. Then, he pulls out a business card (also fancy) and invites you to his office. You think, “My business could always use more help. It couldn’t hurt to visit with this guy.” So you go to his office.
Except his office is hard to find. You drive around for thirty minutes in circles before you locate the building, and when you finally find it, it’s more like a broken-down warehouse. You park your car, double-check the locks, and slowly make your way in. The office is decrepit. It is a congested little room with papers strewn all around, and to top it off, it smells like cat litter.
Will you still do business with the guy? You might. But you may also see a major disconnect in his public persona and his actual business. If your website isn’t up to par—easily findable and professional—this is the same disconnect people are likely to feel about you.
If you need a great website, some of the main elements that distinguish a great website from a good website include:
Well Defined Objectives
When coming up with a website the management or stakeholders have clearly laid out well defined objectives as to what purpose the website will serve. Will the content on the website be static or dynamic and who is their target audience. There is a well defined plan on what needs to be shown and how it needs to be shown. This will ensure there is engagement between target audience and the brand.
This is most crucial element that separates a great website from a good website. A website developed using brands values and brand essence as a guideline helps in building a brand online. Brand values will help in framing the content of the website and its placement, whereas brand essence will help in identifying the overall theme or outlook of the website. Having a brand style guide that defines the type of typography and color palettes to be used is helpful in providing consistency to the overall website.
Great websites are built keeping their customers in mind and not just for the sake of building a website. This reflects in the increase in conversion rate as the marketing team or the consultants have envisioned what are the needs of their customer and how will they behave once they are on the website.
Overall Look And Feel / Design
A great website appears to have an appealing layout with well structure content that is easy on the eye. The overall look and feel of the website is in-line with its brand values. There is a positive perception created among the target audience every time a home page or other landing pages are visited.
A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions - KISSmetrics
A great website has a simple navigation with well defined sections so as to guide the visitors on the website. Easier navigation includes within the website and to facilitate accessing content outside the website. An example could be accessing of a company’s Social Media Pages.
Right communication positioned in the right way helps in educating a visitor and also helps in building trust. Communication is not restricted to textual content; it also includes visual content in the form of videos, images, sliders, etc. Right communication also includes how content is structured for search engines for indexing purposes. On-page optimization plays an important role in improving the readability of a webpage description by both humans and search bots.
A great website has functionalities inbuilt to capture leads when target audience visit specific pages or sections of a website. This helps in increasing the conversion rate of a website.
According to a research conducted by Morgan Stanley, mobile devices have overtaken desktops. What this means is that a website is no longer restricted to desktop anymore as the target audience for most of the businesses have gone mobile. This has become the need of the hour. That is to have a responsive website so as to accommodate preference of the target audience to access websites from devices with various screen sizes. Some of the websites are not yet mobile friendly. If this is true in your case, what is the likelihood that your target audience will not switch to your competitor’s mobile friendly website? One of the tools that we recommend to check a websites’ mobile friendliness is a tool developed by Google. This tool can be accessed here.
There are close to a billion websites active today, let’s work on making a great website that serves both our purpose and most importantly purpose of our target audience - Digiterest
Faster Load Time
According to an infographic released by KISSmetrics, “A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.” This signifies how crucial the loading time is to conversion rate. A great website loads content faster ensuring that the traffic doesn’t drop off due to slow loading time. One of the tools we recommend to analyze website loading time is GTmetrix. The tool can be accessed here.
Upkeep of the website periodically is important so that the content doesn’t look stale. If the website is not maintained well, there is a high likelihood that the target audience will draw negative perceptions affecting the brand image. One of the examples that we can share is of our client’s, before signing them up they had outsourced their maintenance to an agency. The agency had created a ‘news section’ in the ‘about us’ page and there were 2 news items that were dated ‘September, 2014.’ Since then, there were no updates. A first time visitor to the site reading those news items could draw inference that the site is not maintained or the company has gone out of business. This results in low conversion rate and high likelihood of the visitor switching to a competitor. This also impacts their brand building efforts negatively. Great websites treat maintenance as a mandate and hire an expert internally or externally to maintain their website.
A lot of companies treat website building as an expense and try to keep the website building costs at the minimum. What they fail to see is that website building is an investment that helps in building their brand online. While choosing an expert to build a website, it’s crucial to understand their background and what they can offer. Choosing someone on the basis of lower costs could potentially harm your brand and the objective of having a website may not be fulfilled.
There are close to a billion websites active today. It’s debatable, as to how many of those are seeing the desired conversions that the management had hoped for, while building the website. Let’s work on making a great website that serves both our purpose (i.e. increased conversions) and most importantly purpose of our target audience (i.e. offering value to their needs).
Image Credit: Flickr