Learn How To Plan, Develop and Design a Website to achieve your Business Goals and Objectives.
Effective website is:
- Well planned
- Highly functional
Your website is an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. It can serve multiple purposes, like gathering information about end users and prospective clients, or a landing page where they buy your products and services. It’s an opportunity for customers to identify how you are unique and different from your competitors. It can give detailed info about your business, products and services to customers, and help them take decisions to buy what they need.
With all sorts of marketing campaigns running, like ads on google, posts on facebook, blog articles, advertisement banners, all of it drives traffic to your website and brings in prospective customers. With all that attention to your site, you want it to look really good, and be as informative and easy to use as possible. The better your marketing, the more visibility your website has. If the right info or user experience is not there, there’s a loss of credibility, as the fickle online customers have a many other options to choose from, that may be better. As the landscape evolves, you would fall behind the competition if the website is not as per the mark. And if the website doesn’t work on handheld devices, you’re already behind. There’s every chances that there’s a competitor out there with much better user experience, and if end users are fumbling with your website, they would seek them out.
It should be intuitive and engaging so users can accomplish their goals effortlessly. In our digital marketing strategy, we’re aiming for shared value. Same holds true for websites. Your business goals and need of your target market should overlap.
As you design your website, take time out and ask yourself these questions:
- Is your website mobile friendly?– As the numbers for hand-held device users browsing net through their devices keep increasing, your website must work on all devices and should be responsive.
- Does it load properly on modern browsers?– The user experience should be uniform across different browsersfor same device types. The colors, panels, and user experience for desktop users must be the same, irrespective of what browser they’re using to visit your site. It should look exactly the same on Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer. Visit http://www.browserstack.comto test your siteacross platforms.
- Does it answer all the questions users may have?– Another good practiceis to write down all the questions your customers ask via phone, email, feedback forms, or even at your place of business, in a dedicated section like FAQ. All the answers must be available online on your site.
- Is your website reflective of your brand?– First impressionis the last impression. Within first couple of seconds, a user will make a decision if the site appeals him or not. See if it’s reflective of your brand or not. An ecommerce brand with discounts should focus on sales, a luxury brand on elegance, and a digital factory like our on functionality and market use cases. Make sure that your corporate style-sheet, comprising of color schemes, logos, font styles etc. is followed and well used. Consistency must be ensured across the pages of the site.
- Is your website up to date?– It’s one of the primary concerns of customers and end users – Is the information being provided up to date and current. In case schemes are old, product pricing outdated or discounts not mentioned, a customer may go ahead and make a purchase from a competitor. If there’s a blog, what is the posting cycle or frequency. It must be updated regularly.
- Are all of your policies easy to find?– As the online marketing audience is niche,they are often looking for specifics. The question is, if the specific requirement of your customers is to locate or find on your website. If you’re claiming for a service or product offline or on calls, then it’s your prudent obligation to have it listed and well displayed on your website as well.
- Are all of your policies easy to find?– This includes details about logistics like shipping time, taxes, compliance policies etc. The user must know where he stands in the process.
- How does your website compare to those of your competitors?– Are you proudof your site when you compare it with your competition, or jealous. If you’re jealous, it’s about time to give your site a new look and feel, and have a re-look at your digital marketing strategy. You can make use good graces of your professional friends and relationship with your loyal customers to gain their feedback and suggestions from the same. Ask them what they like and what they don’t. Check out http://www.peek.usertesting.com.For no fee, yourwebsite would be evaluated by a dedicated professional from their team for 5 minutes and they will also provide you with real and un-biased opinion.
A good domain name is:
Having a right domain is essential. It’s how your customers, end-usersand visitors find your site online. It’s what you’ll have printed on your brand publicity and marketing collateral, like business cards, brochures, newsletters, annual reports, etc. As your brand recognition increases, it’s going to be that much more used and referred to.
A poorly chosen domain name can have widespread negative impact on online and offline efforts.
- Shorter Domain Name – Easy to remember and market
- Longer Domain Names – SEO friendly, can be re-directed
Your domain name should be relevant to your business. Ideally, it should be your business name or at-least, as close and similar to it as possible. If your business name is too long, you may need to creatively shorten it while still remaining on brand.
For Example, our business name is IrineDigital Factory Pvt. Ltd. We can choose a shortened domain name like idf.com. A shortened URL is good from marketing perspective, as it’s easy to remember or achieve memorability. But we get more SEO value when we use a keyword rich domains like irinedigitalfactory.com.
In such a situation, it makes good sense to buy both the domains, and simply re-direct the SEO rich domain – irinedigitalfactory.comto shortened domain – idf.com, and then build and focus SEO efforts along the longer domain. You’re only using shortened domain names when you’re using it in marketing materials.
The more relevant the domain name, the better for your business.
- Keep it Short – If you have a tongue twisting or difficultto pronounce or spell domain name, if would also be difficult for users or customers to remember or memorize it. Instead, in such cases, it makes sense to use a more simple and alternate domain name, that still maintains the feel of your brand.
- Use Simple Terms – Using wordsthat are difficult to read or spell out should be taken care of. Visitors often forget complicated words.
- Select the most common suffix – Eventoday, .com suffix is still the king. Most people habitually and instinctually type .com only, even you have a .org or .netsite suffix. For example, if your website is www.irine.org, and your competitor has procured the same domain name with a .com suffix, you would have a lot of your clients visiting their sites unknowingly. You don’t want to drive traffic to a competitors site, so as a thumb-rule, reserve all the suffixes, specially .com. Some countries also have a geo-specific suffixes, like .in for India, .UK for United Kingdom, etc. Use the suffix that’s most widespread in your region.So after you buy your domain name, it’s advisable to buy multiple suffixes and variations to prevent others from registering it.
- Free of special characters
If you use multiple special characters like , or /, you might be hampering visitors ability to arrive at your website. The best domain names are short and free of special characters.
If the domain name you want is unavailable, it would be a good idea to enquire the current owner regardingthe possibility and costof purchasing it. If you can’t find their contact information easily, you can try to identify them by running a command called Whois.net. This will query the registered owner. You can find the tools to do this at Whois.netor who.is
It’s hard to change the domain name once your marketing has started, so make sure you get the right domain name before spending on anything else.
Few popular domain name registrars:
Hiring a designer:
If you don’t have a dedicated in-house web designing or web development team, you may need to outsource or hire a professional resource to do design and develop your website. There’re endless amount of option out there, and it can be a daunting task to hire the one with best skill set.
Getting a seasoned and skilled web designer and developer is one of the most common problems faced by start-ups and small businesses. But there are a few best practices you can keep in mind while head hunting for such a resource that can design and manage your website.
To start with, we can have a look at graphic designers. Now, a graphic designer is different from a web designer. A graphic designer need not essentially have good web designing skills, and vice versa.
Hiring a Designer
- Review their website – Start by reviewing their own personal websites. How does it look. Does it appeal and strike a chord? Since you’re the target audience for them, and if you don’t like their website, they may not be the best option for your organization.Look through their portfolio– If they don’t have a portfolio, that’s a red flag right away. Take not of clients and sites they have worked on, have a look at recommendations, testimonials, comments and feedback they have received for their work, and then if possible, visit each of the site they have created and explore them.Make sure to double check the Footer of each website they’ve made to see if there’s an attribution link. If there’s an attribution link mentioning a different design firm, it raises a red flag.
- Check the recencyof their work – If you visit one of the websites from their portfolio,and if that website has been re-designed and doesn’t match the one in their portfolio, it can raise some questions. Now, some designs may not have time to update their portfolio, so proceed with caution in this area as you don’t want to loose a good resource. But at the same time, more updated the portfolio, more are the chances of designer himself being updated with new product features, design practices and industry trends.
- Read through client reviews – Background verification is a good practice. You should take written permission from the designer to reach out to their current and former employers or clients for feedback.
- Understand the designer’s thought process – It’s a good practice to initiate a talk with designers while interviewing them. Ask them if their familiar with responsive designs. What software’s and tools they’re hands on with. Askthem if you could see some of the process behind their current projects and work. It helps to see a designers thought process. If they’re creating wireframes and mock-ups, you can rest assure you would be part of iterative process. If they’re hesitant, perhaps they may be taking help of pre-built templates. Using templates is not an issue, but at the same time, it’s important that designer can customize from scratch as per your requirements and deliver.
- Ask for quote & timeline – At last, you can share your project details, ask them to review it and submit a quotation with a timeline. A sort turnaround and low cost may be tempting, but is not always the best case scenario. It’s a goodpractice to get a couple of proposals and compare them. Good designer don’t come cheap, and can make or break your brand. Good talent always know what’s their worth. But your website is so important, that it’s worth it.
Where to find a designer:
There’s no of online communitiesfor creative professionals, where you can find a good resource and helping hand. You can share their portfolio links with your team and friends for second opinion.
Hiring a developer:
Hiring a Developer is an even bigger challenge. The way your site isbuilt impacts everything, from usability to SEO. Ignore development at initial stage and you would find yourself spending more and more on development in the long run.
- Review their websites – Take a lookat project the developer has worked on. Interact with website on different browsers and device types. You’re looking for consistent, fluid, sooth and hassle free user experience.
- Check their Code Compliance – Reviewthe websites to see if they are complying with web standards. You can conduct a search for this at http://www.validator.w3.org. The idea is to get bare minimum errors. Just a few errors is fine, but a handful is a big no. Some Developers have more errors in their code pertaining to use of old framework by their clients and non-payment for fixes. In that case, check the website of the developer. It should be a solid representation of their talent.
- Check their Google PageSpeedinsight scores – You’re looking for scores at-least in high seventies. If you see scores lower than that, you can discuss it with the developer. Ask them why one of the sites in their portfolio is poorly optimized, and how they can optimize and fix it.
- Ask them if they contribute to public repositories – It’s also a great idea to ask the developer if they’re contributing in any public repositories. You can ask to see their Bitbucketaccount and review their activity. Someone who is leveraging the latest technology and using repositories might be a step ahead of the others.
- Read through client reviews – And just as you did with your designer, check reviews. You can look at sites like oDeskand Elancefor programmers. But at the same time, kepin mindthat good review may not necessarily mean good code.
- Ask for Quote & Timeline – Again, ask the developer for quote& production timeline basis your requirement.
Before you decideto do it yourself, ask yourself a fundamental question – can you as an entrepreneur, afford to spend time building your ownwebsite. It’s a task of a professional, and a website is something that can make or break a brand. Most often, it requires years of training and skills. Basis your current skillset and learning, this is a decision only you can make. But rest assure, once you decide to do, you need to give it its share of due importance and time.
In case your time as an entrepreneur is more precious towards other things concerning business, and this can add to time management issues, consider delegating it to a resource. Way out the pros and cons of this DIY project before jumping in. If you have decided to do it yourself, be ready to invest time to do it right and in style.
Programs and software:
- Adobe Muse
- Adobe Dreamweaver
Semi-custom solutions and online web applications:
Programs and software’s– Build your site from scratch using the tools you can learn,like Adobe Muse, Adobe Dreamweaver.
Semi-custom solutions & online web applications – Youcan also implement semi-custom solutions that are blend of everything. You can create powerful blogs as well as websites on WordPresswithout using a line of code. WordPressoffers solid and mind-blowing results, with its library of thousands of custom plugins, themes and pre-designed templates to choose from, and easy to use drag and drop interface,Wordpressremains the first choice for most entrepreneurs wanting to take charge of their own websites. What used to be a blogging service, is now a very able, effective and popular Content management Systems (CMS). It’s easy to user, and you can even delegate responsibilities with its user account management capabilities. It’s free for self hosted projects and supports ads if you’ve WordPresshost it for your.
Both,Wordpress and Square space have eCommerce options for online selling. But if you want to go deep into eCommerce, consider using Shopify. It’s a time and cost effective solution for selling online. You can easily set-up your ecommerce project on Shopify. It has three account types – Basic for $29/ month, Professional for $79/ month & Unlimited for $179/ month.
There’re thousandsof free & premium templates that you can download from internet, customize them as you like in web designing applications or online web editors, and upload it via FTP. You can also makeuse of online web editors like Weebly, Homestead, Squarespace, YolaSilver offer drag and drop service for novice and amateur designers.
Every website has a goal. It could be to capture visitorinfo like his email address, sell a product or service or to distribute information. There is a definite goal with which you create a website for your business. The idea is to make visitors take some sort of action, or engage in some way way with your website, that the goal is achieved.
Ideally, depending upon the audience type, we have not more than 2-6 seconds for them to stay and decide. This dwell time of 2-6 seconds is a win or loss situation for us, as this is when the audience takes a call to stay on the site or to explore other available option online, which can be in your direct competition. The users will arrive at your landing page, take a glance, and bounce off if they’re not interested.
- Reinforces decision to click – Having specific destination reinforces the decision to click.
- Grabs Attention – Mostoften, visitorswill arrive at your landing pagefrom an attention grabbing or visually pleasing promotion material like web banners they may have seen elsewhere. The banners andpromotional material must be catchy and precise.
- Frames the information – One the visitor is re-directed to your website by clicking on your promotional banners, you must frame the information on your website in a way that it helpsin achieving your business goals, and your prevail upon the user to make a purchase or win him over and close the deal.
- Avoid campaigns to drive visitors to homepage – Homepage of a website is the least conversion friendly page on a website,as it tends to be fairly broad. The key to making your conversion work is to make goal specific landing pages.
Types of landing pages:
- Teaser Pages –
A teaser page gives visitors just enough information to get them to click through to the next step of your process. By creating anticipation and excitement, you can inducea visitor click on a call to action, such as a share button or provide information such as his email address, contact no or even pre-ordering. These pages are also used to tease out and do away with any unqualified leads.Example – Product launch, major product/ software upgrade, opening of a new store.
- Squeeze Pages –
A squeeze page captures contentand qualifying lead information. Typically, a user would exchange some personal information in return for something of moderate value. The lead information can be as simple as an email address, or as complex as multiple prequalifying questions. A good squeeze page keeps the message above the fold, stays on target, and has a strong enough value to be effective. Example – webinar, e-book, discount on product/ service
- Infomercial Pages –
The infomercial page provides information about your product/ service and includesa special offer if you buy it today. Usually,these are long scrollable pages containing all the information about the product like what it’s, how it works, benefits, testimonials, etc. infomercial pages are effective at driving sales for certain products and are typically used by affiliate marketers when running large campaigns.
- Viral Pages –
The viral landing page invites your customers to enlist their friends. You might have a reward that is earned through no of shares. For ex – for each friend that signs up, you get Rs.10credit. The viral landing page can include a video or funny infographic.
Best practices while creating a landing page:
- Define the goal
- Specify the information you need to accomplish that goal
- Outline what the user needs to do
- Determine the users shared value
- Track the results
- Email policy
- SSL certificate
- Contact information
Essential components of a landing page:
Note: Fixing conversions can increase revenue without having to increase site traffic. Keep it concise.
- 10,000 (visitors) * 1% (conversion rate) = 100 (sales)
- 10,000 (visitors) * 5% (conversion rate) = 500 (sales)
Writing a web copy
- Know your audience
- Remove long introductions
- Avoid word heavy descriptions
- Write clear, concise, and punctual copy
- Use clever headings
- Use bullets
- Catchy headlines on landing pages
- Important points or gist first
People Just don’t read each wordon the internet. Instead, they take a bird eye view of the pages, and try to scan them in memory. They’ll jump from a headline to sub-headline, then a few bullets points, and rarely would they read the complete body text.
The users just don’t want to make much effort to read everything, and are most often than not, in a hurry. This means, when it comes to copy on your website, less is more. Lesser the lines used to convey the goals, more genuine are the chances of it being read completely by visitors. With less words to work with, it becomes all the more important to make each word count. This is where you would often need help of a professional copywriter.
Lets call all the text on the website as Copy. The goal is to write a great copy, not just content. Copywriting adds to the experience. It connects your customer to your brand by establishing an emotional connect. You can find more of such creative inspiration on copy writing at – http://www.abccopywriting.com
For each page of your site, ask yourself:
- Who will read this copy?
- Why are they reading this?
- What should they feel when they read this page?
- What am I trying to accomplish with this copy?
- What benefits and features do I need them to understand?
A copywriter also helps in drafting:
- Ad ideas
- Entire websites
- Focused landing page copy
Benefits of a Responsive Design:
- Fulfils necessity
- Helps future proof brand
- Provides flexibility as you expand
- Provides time and cost effectiveness
- Works on and adapts to all device types, orientations and browsers
- Serves the same code to all devices
- Takes care of scaling using style-sheets
- Adds or removes content from the page on the basis of screen size