A website today has changed from being something that sets you apart to an essential step towards gaining an online presence. The question today is no longer would you like a website, but rather how do you want your website to work for you. For some businesses, having a website is enough, they have existing customers, are content with their growth and would not benefit from reaching even more individuals, for others they have the same website as the first group, however, having their website work as an expert sales tool would be incredible in helping them grow their business.
The first thing you NEED to do is to get the basics right. Without having the basics there no amount of lipstick can take your website to the level it needs to be. A slow, boring, text-heavy website is simply not what people want or expect today. Unfortunately, this means to get your website to where it needs to be you need to invest in it, and you need to do so smartly.
The most important aspect of what separates a good website from a great website today is the speed of the website, are your customers going to need to take a nap whilst it loads are will each page load instantaneously? Hence, your websites fate begins with its platform. When choosing your platform it is important to note all of the features you require or will soon require to first ensure that the platform can scale with your business. Once you have found the possible platforms you now need to select the fastest website. Why? Because it will determine your SEO and your conversion rate.
Just like speed, security is important for a multitude of reasons. First, the obvious it protects you from legal and publicity issues that no company wants, bad security can lead to your site being compromised, customer details being leaked and sometimes even worse. Unfortunately, no one is immune from these compromises however, you can make it easy or you can make it hard. We have seen websites where customer details are even indexed on Google. The second reason is SEO, search engines look at site security to first decide whether they should present a website at all, if a site is seen as malicious it is unlikely to be seen on search engines at all. If a website is just un-secure, search engines will present secure alternatives first. Finally, there is the presentation of your brand, any customer who hops on a poorly secure site may be presented with a "not-secure" message from their browser. For many customers, this will stop them from inputting any information into your website and result in a blatant lack of trust.
Unlike the first two, this step is important for one reason. Your domain name and business name work together to ensure your customers can find your business. A long domain, a domain with a deliberate misspelling or a domain name with high competition are all things that will impact how well your website performs. Hence, when deciding on these two things, put yourself in your customer's shoes, do a quick search and establish your competition. Chances are if there are 10 other businesses with very similar names or domains to yours you might want to go back to the drawing board.
Your website hosting will directly affect your website speed, hence, this is an important area to invest in. Your hosting plan essentially determines how many metaphorical workers are dedicated to presenting your website to your customers, it will also determine the quality of these workers. Another thing to consider is where your host is located, a host overseas of course has to send the information about your website over longer distances which will, of course, result in slower speeds.
Once you have the basics established you can now shift your focus to the website itself. The website foundation and the website content and features should complement each other and any work you do on one will be supported by the work you have done for the other. In essence, if you get the foundations right, the content you create will work harder for you and reach more people.
The first place to start when constructing the content for your website is by emphasising the value your product or service brings. This is the most important factor and is what differentiates you from every other brand. If you fail to properly communicate your unique solution to your customers in a direct and persuasive way your customers may not see the unique value that you are offering to them.
When you decide how you are going to provide this unique value to your customers you need to start with the customer. What problem do they have that you can solve? From here the unique value you bring will become clear.
Think to yourself, when your choose to purchase a product what caused you to first research or look at their product, what caused you to consider it and what caused you to purchase it? It is likely that the first impression of that product was ultimately the first thing that persuaded you to research their product, after which you considered and purchased it. Hence, first impressions count. Therefore, you should make your store attractive, of course, attraction is not universal, so make sure you are making it attractive to who you need. Now we are not saying prioritise looks over function, you need to strike a balance between incredible visuals and perfect usability.
You need to know your content, and you need to know it well. You can think of your website as a funnel, you want it to slope perfectly so everything that pours into the funnel ultimately makes it out the other side. Begin by catching their eye, proceed to present them with your unique selling point, entice them with a sale or fast shipping and finally make checking out or getting in contact as easy as possible. Like everything, there is balance in achieving this, you don't want to present them with too much information that the funnel becomes a tunnel and people eventually give up and turn around, but you don't want to neglect information leaving your customers with unanswered questions.
Your website is built first a foremost for your users, it is not built for you! This is the biggest trap new businesses fall into, they get caught up in making the website attractive that they neglect to focus on how their user can interact with your website. You need to present the right information and provide a clear call to action that guides your users into performing the action that you want them to whether it be to buy something or get in contact.
Do not underestimate the power of a blog. If you have invested in creating a great website, then a blog is a free way to bring more traffic to your website. A great way to think of a blog is 1 post = 1 opportunity to rank on search engines for 1 topic. This rule hence means that if you have 1000 posts, you also have 1000 opportunities to rank on search engines.
What makes a good blog post? Whilst any blog post is a good blog post, a great blog post is 1000+ words in length, contains keywords and is of course engaging. If a search engine directs users to your blog post and they spend 5 to 10 minutes on that page, the search engine will increase the perceived value of your site and your ranking will increase slightly across the board. Blog posts can also get you noticed by media outlets giving you a chance at even greater exposure.
Your website should be constantly evolving and improving, this will allow you to keep up with the competition. A website is unfortunately not something you can set and forget. Interact with your website, not down what makes you feel good, and note down what makes you feel bad. Each time you interact with your website you will notice something different. As it comes time to update or upgrade your website you will have a list of things that you can present to your designers and developers from the get-go to help them produce a website that you and your customers will truly love.
There is a lot of work that goes into a website that sells, to gain a website that sells you will need to invest over time. Potentially the most important factor is the foundations that you lay at the start, if you lay a good foundation, what you build on top will be supported and stand tall, if you build in a swamp, your website will sink into the abyss of the world wide web.
If you would like to know how to further improve your e-commerce store checkout our post on the best Shopify apps to help boost your conversions. If you are here because you want to build an incredible website then you are in the right place and we would be excited to talk with you, so let's talk!