Investing in a new website is a major decision for any business, big or small. Your website is the face of your brand in the online world – the place where your potential customers come to gain in-depth knowledge about who you are and what you do.
When done correctly, a new website will function as a lead-generating machine, turning web traffic into quantifiable conversions. But if you miss the mark, it could turn into a can of worms – a seemingly never-ending cycle of tweaks and fixes that chew through your time and money.
Most business owners are aware of the risks associated with website development projects. After all, we’ve all heard horror stories about companies building a website only to end up with a final product that doesn’t function as intended or doesn’t match the vision that was originally pitched.
So, how can you avoid ending up with an underwhelming website design? And which website tips are the most crucial for the success of your site?
We’ve done the heavy lifting for you, digging into trends that high-performing websites follow, and determining which features, processes, and strategies separate the finest business websites from the worst.
Are you ready to change the way you approach website projects?
Here are the top 9 things to consider when designing a website:
- Identifying your primary users
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many website projects have been completed without a proper user profile analysis. In order to create a website that meets the needs of your most important target audiences, you have to first delve into who those people are, and why they are coming to your site.
It’s not uncommon for one business to have multiple primary user groups.
For example, a website for a doctor’s clinic would likely select their patients as their primary audience. But if the healthcare professionals who work at the clinic also access the website in order to update client information, schedule appointments, respond to public inquiries, and post updates, then the internal healthcare professionals should also be considered primary users.
Before contacting a website development company, it’s essential to narrow down your user audiences, identify why they come to your website, and consider how you change your site to better meet their needs.
- Improving your visual brand
Has it been a while since your company revamped its logo? Is the colour scheme of your branding coming across as drab or dated? Do you even have a visual branding guidelines document? These are all things to consider when investing in building a website. The more clear, consistent, and contemporary your branding is, the more visually appealing your website will be.
However, it’s important to remember that the website development team you hire will likely NOT be responsible for the brand identity of your site. Thus, the onus is on you to come to the table with your branding guidelines in hand.
If you’re having trouble getting started on your branding guidelines document, we recommend checking out these inspiring brand guide examples from some of the world’s leading corporations.
- Making mobile a top priority
In 2018, no business should be investing in a website that isn’t being built for mobile-first. With 51% of global web traffic originating from mobile devices, skipping on responsiveness is one of the surest ways to hinder the success of your site. You want to ensure that your design is optimized for how images, text, logos, and other elements will look on smaller screens since many of your visitors will be accessing your site from a tablet or cell phone.
Ask your web development company if they are familiar with a mobile-first design, sensory design, and adaptive design – each of which is necessary when creating a website with mobile users in mind.
- Including calls to action
Nothing stifles the functionality of a website like forgetting to incorporate a call-to-action (CTA) on every page. What is a CTA? It’s a statement or question that motivates your website visitors to do something.
For example, including the statement, “Follow us on Facebook for more exclusive gardening tips!” at the end of a blog post inspires readers to take action by following your business on social media.
As a rule of thumb, every page of your website should have at least one CTA.
It is also critical to remember that when you include a CTA on your website, your visitors should immediately be able to complete the suggested action by clicking on your button.
For example, if you include a CTA that says “Download Our Brochure Here!”, your visitors should be able to click on the word “here” and instantly be taken to the download link.
Complicated CTAs or broken links will leave your users feeling frustrated and will likely result in a higher web page bounce rate (not good!).
- Structuring your site for scalability
Never make the mistake of building a website that will only meet your current needs. There is no better time to factor in the future than while you are in the process of a website redesign. Too often, business owners spend an exorbitant amount of cash on building a website, only to realize a few months down the road that there are already new functions that they require, and they don’t have the ability to make them happen.
Hence, keeping scalability at the top of your priority list is always one of our recommended website tips.
Simple things like avoiding single points of failure (SPOF) are absolute musts if your website is going to continue to meet your business requirements for years to come.
Ask yourself: Where will we keep our website data, how will we access it, and how frequently will we back it up?
Always aim to minimize the likelihood that your website could be compromised if one thing goes wrong. Having a backup plan (and a backup, backup plan) is always better than realizing you’re stuck with your current situation because you didn’t plan ahead.
- Communicating with your customers
The ability to connect with your target audience should always be a central concern when developing your site. After all, your visitors are who you are creating your website for. So, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I want my customers to be able to reach me? (Email, telephone, online chat, etc.)
- What hours do I want to be available to my customers via my chosen communication methods?
- Who in my organization should be able to receive communications from clientele?
- What security measures should be in place when communicating with clients via my website?
- Am I a good candidate for artificial intelligence or chatbots?
Always consider your communication needs before building a website, and brainstorm with your website development company to determine which options are right for you.
- Selecting the right content management system
If you are a business that has had a website for some time, you may be comfortable with the CMS you currently use. Or, alternatively, you may be frustrated with the CMS you’ve been using and therefore ready to try something new. Of course, the most popular and widely-used content management system is WordPress, due to its ease of use and 100% customizable design. But every business has unique problems that need solving, and ultimately the right CMS for your business may not be the best choice for someone else’s.
We recommend researching each of the top CMS options, consulting with your website design team, and making an informed decision using the information you gather.
- Balancing your budget
Before solidifying your plans for a website overhaul, you have to establish your budget – a task that often involves a reality check for business owners. For a completely custom website project, you can expect to pay between $10,000 and $15,000, on average. That number can increase if your website project is highly complex or involves a high number of pages, and it can decrease if you decide to go with a template design.
Of course, each option comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
On top of the website development itself, you’ll also have to factor in additional services like copywriting and SEO if you are unable to perform these tasks on your own.
We suggest reading this helpful guide for setting a website budget before meeting with your chosen web company, so you can enter the meeting with a number in mind.
- Delegating roles ahead of time
Even if you follow all of the other website tips included in this list, your project can still be a chaotic mess if you don’t prepare your staff members and establish roles in advance. Tasks that will need to be addressed include:
- Gathering of information for website content
- Compiling of artwork, logos, images, and graphics for website use
- Completion of branding guidelines
- Writing of website content
- Review and approval of pitched designs
- Populate the website content with various content items
The more time your internal team has to lay the groundwork for these responsibilities, the more streamlined your web project will be.
- Add social proof
Social media is a major aspect of online marketing. By incorporating social proof into your website content, you can increase your brand loyalty and give your visitors additional reasons to support your business.
How do you do it?
- Include photos or logos of your certifications to highlight how qualified you are
- Incorporate links to your company social media pages where possible
- Include photos and links to the social media profiles of industry influencers who use your product or support your brand
- Include a media page on your website where you link to articles and published content that mentions your brand
- Add social sharing buttons to your blog that display how many times your post has been shared or liked
By keeping these ten considerations in mind, business owners from all industries can increase their chances of a successful website project, ensuring their needs are met and the overall design supports their business goals.