Most businesses realize they need a website to effectively compete in today’s rugged economic landscape … but are they joining the race with the right tools?
Does your company’s website provide a picture of professionalism and expertise …or does it make people wonder, “gee, is this company as dysfunctional and frustrating to deal with as its website?”
It’s like what Tim, one of Gowalla’s designers, had to say recently about websites:
“People don’t just visit your website, they experience it.”
We talked recently about how a good website isn’t just about creating something with all the latest technical enhancements … it’s not about the whiz bang. It’s about innovative internet marketing solutions.
A good website is:
- Visually appealing;
- Fully functional;
- Provides useful information; and
- Matches the overall brand and culture of your business.
No one likes looking at ugly. So why have an ugly website? A visually appealing website is going to be that vital first impression. The graphics, colors and overall look of the site must be something that gives your customers a positive feeling when they visit…not an annoyed or bored feeling.
- Are my colors appealing…do they complement each other?
- Do my graphics attract attention to the site’s main focus or are they distracting?
- Do the pages look clean and attractive or are they cluttered with too much … stuff?
People won’t use your website if they can’t find their way around it- Steve Krug in Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Second Edition)
The above statement is very true. Even if your website is pleasant to view, if it doesn’t work, people won’t use it.
Take a look at your website (or better yet, watch someone new try to use it):
- Does it take a long time to load? Consumers don’t have time for that…even if you put a cute message on your homepage that tells them it will take a while for the awesomeness of your website to load.
- Do all the links lead to where they should? Is it obvious what is a link and what isn’t?
- Is the site’s page and layout structure logical and easy to follow? (In other words, can you find your way around the site without an actual map in front of you)
- Can you easily and quickly find the information you need?
On the go
Another aspect of “working well” is whether your website can be easily accessed from multiple browsers and on smartphones. What about when there are upgrades to these products, does your site still work well? This needs to be checked on a regular basis—don’t wait and assume a consumer will always inform you of a problem. They are more likely to just skip your site if you don’t make it easy.
Speaking of information, does your website:
- Contain information that users want and need? Use your analytics program (we suggest Google Analytics) to figure out what people are searching for when they find your site … and if they are finding it. Think like a consumer when discussing content with your web designer’s staff writer. What would you be looking for if hiring your services?
- Rely too heavily on “happy talk?” According to Krug, happy talk is just fluffy words that say nothing except that you offer great stuff and are wonderful and you’re glad people are there. People want concrete information and they want it quickly. Imagine having to wade through a room filled with marshmallows (no, we haven’t been watching Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory). Do you want to have to push a bunch of sticky wonderfulness aside to get to where you want in the room? Readers don’t want that on your website either.
Finally, does your website fit your branding and overall corporate culture? This is more than just slapping a pretty logo on your website and calling it good. The tone of the words, graphics and overall feel of your site should match and blend with your corporate culture.
For example, if your website is filled with flashy graphics and bright colors but your office and corporate culture is more soothing, this is a bad fit. You don’t want people to say after meeting you and your staff “wow, based on your website, I thought you would be totally different than you were.”
The Belford Group is an experienced image-building marketing and website development agency, with more than a decade spent providing creative marketing and advertising solutions to fit any budget …and any medium. Our portfolio is filled with websites for various industries, using different styles and management systems.
Call us. We’d love to hear from you.