Our good friend, George Ritacco provided the following insights on website development. We wanted to share it here for you.
Looking to build a new website or update your current one? Not sure what to include, how much to include or where to start?
I talk to people ever day about what makes a good website. My answer is always pretty simple – one that does what it is supposed to do. However – for each of us “what it is supposed to do” can mean many things.
To me – a good website is one that prompts a visitor to pick up the phone, call you or reach out to you via a form or email. A good website is also a tool that will establish credibility for someone you just met. A good website can allow visitors to buy your products or services too, such as an e-commerce site. Can your site do all 3? Absolutely, but a major point is to not overwhelm your visitor with too much information or try to accomplish too many things with your website.
Have a plan and stay focused. And we can help you craft one. More on that later.
Large vs. Small?
Is a big website better than a small website? Well… it depends. It depends on your situation, your product or service and your goal(s). At the end of the day – your website is an online extension of you and your business. But… there is certainly strategy to think through when laying out a website framework or “wire-archy”. What are your main links? How many pages do you need? Do you include lead generation pages? How should your web pages be prioritized?
Here’s a list of 10 things to think of for your next website project. Think of it as a sanity check list.
First and foremost – define your goal. Is your website meant to establish credibility, communicate your message, generate leads or a combination of all? Depending on your goal will determine how your website should designed.
KISS – Keep it simple, dummy. :-) Yes, keeping it simple helps a visitor quickly answer the questions they have such as: Is this the right company for me? Can they do what I need them to do? Can they help me? Do they have what I need? Don’t make it impossible to find what they are looking for. Rule of thumb – if they can’t find what they need in 4-6 seconds… they’re gone.
First impressions are more important than you think. Again, you need to make a great impression and appear to meet their needs in 4-6 seconds. You may NEVER have another opportunity. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Tell them just enough. If you’re in the “problem solving business”, tell them WHAT they need to do… but don’t tell them HOW to do it. Never. That’s what they need YOU for. The idea is they read just enough to understand that they have a problem that you can solve… but they need to talk to you to fix it. Tell them WHAT, but don’t tell them HOW. At least, not on your website. You don’t want to provide too much information on your website where they think they can solve the problem without you.
Social Proof. If your goal is to establish credibility – social proof is powerful. You can never have enough good people saying wonderful things about you. Testimonials sell. Make sure they are visible. Go for video if you can. People live vicariously through the words and actions of others. Every business needs testimonials and an overwhelming amount of proof is hard to discount and deny. Period.
If your goal is lead generation, leverage landing pages to generate leads. This is where you leverage the HOW. For example: “Fill out this short form and download this white paper and find out how to solve this problem.” They get the white paper and you get the lead for follow up. Consider putting it front and center on your home page. A good piece of content usually works here – if it is aligned with why they searched in the first place. If I’m looking for a good, inexpensive camera and find your website – a special report featured on the home page that reads: “The top 10 good inexpensive cameras for 2019”, might be something I look to grab in exchange for my contact information.
Content is powerful. It establishes thought leadership and credibility. Engage a copywriter and establish a content program with a blog. A good copywriter knows how to use page headlines to get attention and how content needs to flow for maximum readership. Do not play games here. An advanced tip – include a social media plan and a video channel. It keeps your site fresh and alive. Content also determines your search rankings by Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Define your sitemap based on a simple flow. Decide on your main navigation based on what you think people need to know right away on a quick glance. Provide sub-navigation links to allow them to dive a little deeper into an area of interest. Use cross-links to bring them to other sections to your website. The key is to keep it focused and simple. Think of this as establishing a popcorn trail for them to follow. Remember, you CAN control where they go. You just need to think about this strategically.
Overwhelmed visitors do nothing. If someone comes to your site and there are too many links or many links up and down the page – there is a good chance they may not go any further.
Don’t be afraid to test. There is no absolute truth. There are many variables to consider that are influenced by your business, your target market and your goal(s). Each can have a different outcome. The key is to test and observe.
Good luck and happy building. If you need help – please reach out and say hello!