Getting the basics right…
Creating a truly effective website is something that every company aspires to, yet comparatively few sites achieve an optimal blend of style and practicality. Many well-meaning sitemaps have been swamped by data-heavy media content and sprawling sub-pages, spoiled by the creative excesses of web designers and the instincts of their clients to include absolutely everything on one site.
Successful website construction involves knowing when to stop adding content by providing visitors with everything they need – and nothing else. Here are eleven of the most important elements underpinning any good corporate website:
- Get the most important information in first. Many people abandon websites at the homepage, so use larger fonts to emphasise new products or the latest news. The Apple and Amazon sites are particularly effective at promoting flagship products. Ensure the company logo is prominent and update the homepage regularly.
- Make sure everything works. Portable devices are taking over from desktops as the default web browsing platform, but their download speeds fluctuate hugely. Avoid auto-playing content or high-res transitions in favour of a slick website with responsive design which looks good on any screen size and works on any operating system (or OS).
- Test on friends and family. When a site is in pre-launch beta testing, request feedback from as many friends and loved ones as possible. They will see things from different perspectives (using multiple devices and OS), and may identify confusing navigation, overlapping menus, unnecessary text or other issues that can be resolved pre-launch.
- Streamline the design. It may seem obvious to demand unambiguous menu headings and intuitive navigation, but some people would still like to call their About Us page a Mission Statement. Avoid ‘hidden’ sub-menus that drop down and then disappear, leave gaps between text for ease of reading and include links to key pages throughout.
- Good copywriting. A talented copywriter will instinctively know how to produce copy that sells. Effective content will be concise and easy to understand, promoting the company and focusing on key products or service aspects. Regularly updated copy will achieve good search engine rankings and give people reasons to revisit the site.
- Establish trust. This can be done in a number of ways: FAQs answer common queries and suggest an understanding of customer concerns, while an About Us page can put new customers at ease. Testimonials should promote work with recognisable brands, or use typical customer case studies to emphasise the best aspects of the company.
- Reliable ecommerce functionality. Sites hosted in WordPress can call upon numerous plugins, handling everything from baskets to automated order acknowledgements. SSL certificates will garner trust and always ensure your shopping cart and login details are displayed side-by-side on every page. Be open about delivery details, too.
- Social media. Purchasing decisions are increasingly being influenced by social media from YouTube promotions to customer comments on Twitter. Social media effectively provides a free way to communicate with customers in real-time; regularly updated tweets and posts can help drive traffic back to the main site.
- Contact details. Few things are more frustrating than trawling a website trying to find a way to get in touch. It’s advisable to have key methods of communication displayed at the top of every page, in a clickable form that will dial numbers or open emails. A full Contact Us page can list more details such as opening hours and a registered address.
- Encourage repeat visits. Repeat custom is the bedrock of any enterprise and returning website visitors are highly likely to make purchases or interact in some way. Attract them back with wishlist functionality and personalised accounts, or capture email addresses to send out regular newsletters, discount codes and time-limited offers.
- Analytics! If you can see what parts of your site are working hard for you then you can build on their success. We’d recommend Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager as useful tools for this purpose.
Get started today with a little help from UK2!