What You Need to Know Before Designing a Website
August 15, 2020
Creating a new website always seems like an easy effort at the start. Design a few new pages, write some new copy, include a few sharp photos or videos, and you’re done. The reality is much more complex to navigate. No matter how large or small your website is, or aims to be, it requires a strategy, efficient planning, and attention to detail. From creating measurable goals, adhering to brand guidelines, and ensuring an effective user experience, here’s what you need to know before designing a website.
Create Measurable Goals
Before designing a website, determine your website’s purpose by focusing on what you want it to accomplish. Are you a brick and mortar store trying to drive traffic to your store? Or are you an e-commerce site looking to increase online sales? Defining the overall function of your site helps set the foundation for a successful website.
Once you’ve determined the main objective of your site, you’ll be able to create and set measurable goals. To begin, jot down a few things you want out of your website. These goals could include:
- Sell 75 products per week
- Receive 10,000 website visitors a month
- Generate 5,000 leads in the first year
- Bring 2,000 people to the store per quarter
- Generate 50 calls a day
Now that you have actual numbers to work with, you can build a marketing plan to achieve those numbers.
The User Experience
Let’s face it, a website that is hard to navigate, or one that takes forever to load, is a huge turn-off, especially in today’s high-speed world. From personal experience, I quickly exit out of a site if it gives me even a slight ounce of frustration. In today’s instant gratification world, most people don’t have the patience for that, especially when they can find a competitor’s website that’s quick and efficient.
When creating a user-friendly experience on your website, make sure it’s clear what you want your digital visitors to do when they visit your homepage.
The simplest way to do this effectively is by placing a large call-to-action button or form at the top of your website where it is easily visible. If you are an e-commerce site and want your visitors to start shopping right away, you’ll want to include a button that says something along the lines of “start shopping today” or “purchase now” to encourage visitors to click.
We also recommend that you include pertinent information and aim to answer common questions upfront so your visitors won’t have to go digging through your site’s web pages to find it.
Know the Target Audience
No matter what you are selling, know that it’s not for everyone. That’s why it’s so important to get to know who you are targeting so you can create a message that resonates with that particular group of people.
An e-commerce website that only sells baby clothes and accessories would aim to target new moms, whereas a golf course would aim to target middle-aged men.
Displaying generic messaging to these groups might not be as effective as it would if you went in with a targeted approach. To find out more about your target audience, you’ll want to uncover a few things about them.
Demographics – What is their age, gender, location, and income?
Browsing habits – How did they get to your site?
Technological familiarity – How much do they know about technology?
When designing a website, keep these things in mind and tailor your copy and design to that demographic from the start.
Take a Look at the Analytics
Are you planning to rebuild or make updates to a current website or web application? Dive into your analytics. From there, you can spot what’s working and what’s not by studying the behavior of your visitors.
- The device they are using. Are your visitors primarily using desktop, mobile, or tablet?
- Focus on pages that are bringing in the most traffic. View the pages that are receiving a bulk of the traffic and focus on making those pages even better.
- Eliminate/rework ineffective pages. Discover which page(s) have the highest bounce rate, shortest browse time, generate the least conversions, etc., and work on eliminating or reworking them.
- Dig into user paths on your site. Where are people landing initially, and where do they navigate from there?
Do a Competitive Web Analysis
No matter what business you run, chances are, you have several competitors. Know that having competitors isn’t a bad thing. In most cases, it helps drive you to work harder and produce higher quality content for your consumers. It also helps raise awareness and buzz in your industry or category.
To see where you rank against your competitors, you’ll want to do an in-depth competitive web analysis. This means collecting and reviewing information about your rivals so you can ultimately predict if your business will succeed in the current marketplace. There are multiple ways you can collect pertinent information about others in the biz, but here are a few approaches we suggest you start.
- Do a Google search. Type in keywords that relate to your business or product and see what other companies dominate the results page. Jot down the first ten companies you see.
- Take a look at their products or services. How do their products or services compare to yours? Take note of their prices and sales.
- Evaluate their content. Are your competitors producing consistent, well-written blogs? Are their images custom or stock? If they provide resources, are they free or gated?
- Review their social media accounts. Check to see how active they are on social media. Do they have a presence on the leading social media channels? How often do they post, and do they respond to customer comments and complaints?
- Check out their advertising. If you plan on running ads in the future, we recommend seeing what your competitors are doing first. What type of advertisements are they running? What’s their message? Be sure to make a note of their tone and where they are advertising.
Once you’ve collected this information, you can develop a strategy to one-up your competitors by identifying and filling in the gaps.
Showcasing Your Brand
From visuals to content to messaging, every brand should have a unique style, voice, tone that is clearly articulated on your website. This style should be clear and consistent across the board. When designing a website, make sure to adhere to a brand style guide. Brand style means using the same colors, fonts, logos, and tone everywhere you display your business, so your brand is easily recognizable.
If you decide to go off the cusp, you jeopardize trust with your customers. For instance, I recently visited a medical office’s website to pay a bill, but the site did not correlate with the office whatsoever. The inconsistency immediately struck me as alarming. I wasn’t sure if I had typed in the right URL or if this was a legit website. After digging a little further, I realized it was, in fact, the right website, but it just had no brand consistency. Avoid this altogether by using the same logo, fonts, and style of your business to avoid confusion.