This popular topic is presented in an insightful series of 6 articles, with this introductory overview being the first in our six-part series. In this part 1 introduction article, our goal is to give you a topical overview on the important aspects of improving your company or organization’s website and its online presence.
Each series will delve much deeper than we do in today’s article, and provide you with great information and guidance to ensure your online success. Our goal is to equip you with a solid understanding of all aspects of effective web design and web marketing so that you and all our readers’ experiences with their web design firms or web marketing companies are successful and profitable.
This 6-part series of articles is provided as follows:
Part 1: Introduction to Improving your Web Presence (Today’s article)
As you learn new ideas and concepts from this series of articles, we are sure that new questions will come to your mind. We would be happy to answer them for you, so feel free to visit our site at www.cynexis.com to submit your question on our contact form or call us at 866-530-6584. We hope you enjoy this series!
In of itself, having a website does not automatically mean that you will attract visitors. Even if you do manage to attract visitors, a poorly designed site will ultimately drive them away. Just as a shoddy showroom speaks badly for a brick and mortar business, a poorly designed or inadequately marketed web site will reflect badly on your company.
Attracting prospects and customers on a regular basis requires creating a great web presence, but creating a great web presence is primarily based on understanding how to keep visitors engaged on your website. Many things contribute to attracting and engaging new visitors to your site. The following is a quick peak into each aspect that this six-part series of articles will address.
There are five key aspects of effective web development that will transform any website from a rarely visited virtual haunt into a thriving online enterprise. Some of these keys rely on technical skill, while others are based on basic design principles. In most cases, you don’t need to know all the technical details — you just need to understand the overall concept so that you can convey your wishes accurately to web design companies and web programmers who may be developing your website.
NOTE: If you want to jump right into the specific articles that gives deeper insight to the respective keys, simply click on any of the 5 numbered keys to effective web presence below:
A website may seem simple to plan, but each site needs to be uniquely strategized relative to the business it represents. Formulating a clear understanding of your goals, your visitor’s needs, and a mental picture of what you see for your site can save you time and money if this is thought out before working with web designers and web design firms.
It is also crucial that you communicate, to your web design firm, a clear understanding of exactly how your company operates, its value to its customers, your company’s overall marketing plan, and how this new website fits into your marketing initiatives.
As an example, some businesses like to add to their website’s content often, or they have product and service offerings that change on a more frequent basis. Depending on how frequently these offerings change, a “dynamic” site, which can be updated by in-house personnel via a content management system, versus a “static” one that must be updated by the web programmers directly, may be the best choice.
If the product offerings do not change frequently, you may not require a content management system (a dynamic website). So, in this case, having a static site would be the proper solution. Content management systems are very popular though, because today’s companies value the importance of adding and updating content on their sites. Top web designers frequently use Drupal CMS as a content management system because of its scalability and capabilities.
What should a visitor see when they first encounter the website? The most important information that defines the company, product or service should be on the landing page. Information that is less important or too detailed for an initial impression should be displayed on a sub-page. Making a list of your required landing pages and subpages ahead of time will make it easy for the web developers to rapidly create a workable web design flow.
This process is more or less one in which you create a site map for your page flow. Creating a pre-project site map for your web design is helpful because it enables the pages and content to evolve into an organized flow that makes sense for your sites future visitors. How should visitors move through the site? After they see the landing page, where should they go? What is the ideal order of subpages?
Planning for these types of issues ahead of time makes the design process move much more smoothly, and it helps web designers better interpret your needs for this new site.
Many companies make the mistake of having their site designed with what they want to see in it versus what their site’s visitors are looking for from their site. Unfortunately, this means that sites can become overly elaborate or poorly organized for a visitor such as a potential client. To create a great web presence, it’s vital that companies put themselves in their customer’s shoes.
The most important thing to remember is that a website is primarily a self-service tool. Never assume that a customer is bringing pre-existing knowledge and understanding of your site with them when they land on it. The site should be intuitive and easy to use, not shrouded in mystery or defined by arcane insider lingo.
“Usability” is defined by seemingly mundane things like color, font readability, and browser compatibility. In the era of HTML5 and mobile web usage, many of these issues are technically easier to coordinate, but they are still important initial considerations.
Choosing bold purple type on a green background, for example, will probably alienate visitors because it is too hard to read. Likewise, a site that buries its contact information is only hurting its chances of converting visitors into paying customers. A user should not only be able to easily identify how to contact a company at all times, but also be able to figure out how to move fluidly through the site.
Again, if a website is like a showroom, and the visitor should be able to feel comfortable as he or she strolls around and takes in information. They shouldn’t have to climb over obstacles and fend off annoying graphics in order to find out information. Layout is important, as well as easy access to content. A good rule of thumb is to try and keep all key pages within 3 clicks.
Studies have proven that the eyes of most internet visitors have a preordained flow: initially, they immediately glance to the top left, then to the center, and then left or back to the top for the navigation bar. While the design of each company’s site should be a reflection its brand and culture, incorporating these basic clean, clear, and crisp design attributes will only enhance that image. Mobile web visitors especially appreciate sites that are easy to view and understand in a limited space.
The best sites usually lay out their conversion related content either in the center or slightly to the right of the page. Similarly, colors should be chosen with the understanding that not everyone’s monitor or mobile phone displays exactly the same way. The actual content of the site should follow a rhythm or pattern: the layout should not radically change from page to page. If the site favors a bullet point layout, they should repeat the layout on each page, and not suddenly feature a huge, unbroken block of text.
The Science behind Using and Choosing Graphics
Graphics should be clear, crisp, well-placed and sized appropriately. Enormous graphics that dominate the page will frustrate visitors who are trying to get a mix of information and instead are forced to spend their time scrolling through oversized images. Similarly, miniscule images can weaken the visitor experience by taking up space, while conveying no meaningful information.
What does each graphic tell the visitor? Why is that graphic on a particular page? Is it the best choice, and does it work fluidly with the accompanying text? Also, the page resolution should be designed to display at the lowest average resolution. In other words, a company’s graphics should look just as snazzy on an enormous desktop monitor as they would on an Android or iPhone.
The site copy itself should also be concise and clear. More importantly, the content should be placed on pages in a hierarchical flow in easy to digest blocks. Visitors will tend to leave your site if the content looks too overwhelming to them. We refer to this visitor departure as a measurement called the “bounce rate”. Specifically, when visitors enter your site from a specific page, what percentage leave your site without either converting on the page or clicking further into your site?
If the search engines can’t find your site, then visitors will have a very hard time getting there as well. Search engines like to analyze sites in a many ways. They prefer text to graphics and flash, for instance, but will dislike if they’re forced to wade through too much content that lacks relevant keywords. They disdain sites that have a poor understanding of streamlined coding, and give poor ratings to those sites that have no links from other well reputed sites. As the years go by, search engine robots have become increasingly sophisticated at spotting hasty or poor design. They will flag these sites as being unprofessional, and the site will not receive the volume of traffic the company could have with a properly coded site. This is done through bounce rate and average time on page analysis.
How quickly does the site load? On the internet, speed is king. Ditching cumbersome graphics and streamlining your content to the absolutely essential items will help boost your rankings on the search engines and increase the number of visitors that are converted into paying customers.
SEO, or search engine optimization, and SEM, or search engine marketing, have become increasingly important facilitators for websites. Internet marketing companies and web marketers can advise you on keywords particular to your industry, but they should also be able to provide a comprehensive SEO plan that takes into account numerous other factors, such as blogs, affiliate marketing, email campaigns, and advanced linking recommendations.
Search engines love fresh, relevant content. Blogs are an excellent way to keep visitors coming back for more without altering the layout or structure of the site. Blogs are also a wonderful way to introduce keywords and build greater exposure for your site in the search engines.
Articles that you incorporate into your site can also be powerful fuel to feed the search engine spiders that crawl your site’s pages looking for new and important content relative to the subject matter your site represents.
In combination with linking, internet advertising is popular among web marketing firms as a great way to improve your web presence. Understanding how to effectively market your website is essential in creating more traffic and overall interest.
As the largest global search engine, Google’s advertising services can help websites gain greater exposure. Pay per click services and other online advertisers can also help generate more exposure, but the choice of keywords within the ad and their specific placement online will have an enormous impact on the success of the campaign.
It’s important to remember that Google perpetually changes its strategies for ranking and searching for relevant content. Google now frequently tailors its search results to the individual user, based on their past internet search history. While this can pose a challenge for broad-based internet marketing, having multiple channels of outreach will ultimately help the site find and sustain its core audience.
An internet user who consistently performs searches in a particular industry or field will find your website if it is optimized effectively, has sufficient and qualified links, and consistently generates compelling content.
Above all, remember: when your first visitor finds the landing page of your beautifully designed site, they will want to start spending their money.