Websites are a presentation of ourselves to the outside world. If you have a bad website, in a way, you make a bad impression on those who don’t know you or your company personally. A website can be a simple overview of your company, what you offer, your story, contact information, and anything else you think could set you apart from the competition. For some, their website is their whole being (i.e., Amazon), for others, it is a placeholder of information that is better suited for the web rather than a social media platform (i.e., small town businesses).
Here are some of the most important aspects of web design that I have learned throughout my years of building and designing websites and creating content. Hopefully some of this insight will help you in your pursuit of designing, updating, or maintaining your website presence in the industry market that you conduct business in.
Do research into companies that are in the same industry or business market as you are
This is the first step that I recommend to anyone who is looking into updating or building their business website. Do your research to see what others are doing in your industry on their websites. Find out what you like, what you don’t like, what is consistent among them, and how can you take what they are doing and make it better. Do your homework before you start the process of designing a website, because you not only gain valuable insight, but also have a deeper grasp of what you like as viewer and what you think wouldn’t work for your business.
Photos are worth a thousand words
The more we can visually communicate our brand, the better off we are at times. I have personally told clients, if you have pictures that can promote your product or company, the better impact you will make on your audience. Pictures sometimes say more than 1,000 words ever could. For example, this can be putting up before and after photos, using headshots of people in your testimonials, or simply showing your employees in action throughout your website gives it a human and more personalized touch.
You know what it’s like when calling places and being met with a generic message or an automated voice system before actually being transferred to a live being. The same holds true with your website; you are giving your audience the authenticity and confidence that you and your company are “real,” especially in this virtual and extremely mobile world.
Put the most pertinent items in the main menu & drop-down menus
I start to twitch when I see so many drop-down menu bars, especially when a drop-down menu has another drop-down menu attached to it. At this point, you have to decide what the best way is to condense all of your information. Begin to ask yourself a few important questions:
- Does this all need to be on here? Can we place some of this on social media (i.e., coupons, saving initiatives, events, etc.)?
- Are we repeating information that is already stated somewhere else on the website?
- What information may be self-explanatory and may not need to even be on the website?
- What are the most important aspects of my business, and what do people care about when visiting my website?
After thinking through your content, that will give you a better understanding as to what your website needs to have to make it more engaging and easier for visitors to navigate through.
Make sure your social media icons are visible & easy to find
I know that for some people, the placement of the social media icons is not imperative for what they are looking for in a website. I actually feel the total opposite. Having your social media icons easily identifiable and available is extremely important. Your social media presence gives viewers an inside glimpse into your social interactions and audience.
I always love to see how businesses interact with their customers on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. For some reason, a social media presence represents the raw, real, side to a business or company, that you don’t get from simply viewing their website. Be open and real, and have your social media icons in a location that’s easily identifiable on your website.
Sum up your expertise; the wordier you are, the less likely someone will read it
I cannot tell you how many times I have skipped over reading something because there is simply way too much there. In this case, the quality of the writing is more important than the quantity of words. By summing up your content, you will keep visitors more engaged, focused, and it could likely lead to a conversion on your website. As the old saying goes, “less is more,” and in this case, that is definitely the truth.
Always remember to be mobile friendly
This may seem like common sense, but some websites are not mobile friendly or choose to keep theirs as a desktop version on mobile devices. Google actually gives preference to websites whose layout converts to a mobile format. If you first think back to the days where websites were in their infancy, they were simply a placeholder of information with nothing more than a hyperlink here or there (Remember GeoCities?). Websites have now become a lot more involved, interactive, and for some, the hub for their whole being (Amazon, EBay, Expedia). Their presence, regardless of how much websites are being utilized for, has to be viewable on a mobile phone because that is what much of the world uses today.
Treat your website and your target audience like it’s the year 2017, and not 2000. Make it appealing on both the laptop, as well as your mobile phone. Do not be tempted to keep it formatted as a desktop version, because that not only punishes you on Google, but also to your audience who may only view your website on their mobile device.