Project W: Building a Website That Draws Users and Keeps Them Coming
Websites matter. In today's fast-paced digital world, it takes less than one second for a potential customer to form an opinion about your website, and that first impression can make or break their decision to stay and make a purchase. How you present your product or service online is just as crucial as the product itself. A dynamic, user-friendly website is your best marketing tool. Building a website can feel daunting for someone unfamiliar with design, but there are many tools nowadays that help to make the process DIY-friendly – Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, just to name a few, so this article is a guide for those who are building sites on their own. We'll explore five fundamental principles that can significantly increase the effectiveness of your website without straining your budget. From user-centered design to search engine optimization and marketing strategies, these best practices will help you make a lasting impact and achieve your business goals.
You've selected a website building tool…so what now? Just like developing your company's target market fit, it is always best to start with the end user. Who are you hoping will visit your site and what would you like them to take away? Understanding the needs, goals, and behaviors of your target audience allows you to create solutions that truly resonate. This is the basic principle of user-centered design, a process in which the main focus of the design is on the user's needs – making it easy and effective for people that visit and use the website, rather than the people who designed it. Here are some key things to consider when designing a user-friendly website:
Website usability encompasses various factors, including ease of navigation, logical information architecture, intuitive design, clear and concise content, mobile-friendly and fast-loading pages, and effective error handling. A usable website should provide a seamless and enjoyable experience for visitors, allowing them to quickly find the information they need, complete tasks, and interact with the website without confusion.
- Accessibility and availability
If your website doesn't load, is unresponsive, takes too long to load, or has broken links, people will quickly move along. Make sure you've purchased a domain from a reputable hosting service, check your website loading speed, and then verify if your website is working properly by testing across different browsers (Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox).
It is also crucial to ensure that your design is inclusive and can be accessed by users of varying abilities.
According to Stat Counter, 55% of worldwide online visits come from mobile and 57% of internet users say they won't recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, so having a responsive (or mobile-friendly) site is a must. Make sure the company you use to build your website offers tools to quickly optimize for mobile or purchase a template where the mobile design is included.
- Make it pretty!
In addition to being usable and easy-to-navigate, your site has to be attractive. Seventy-five percent of users admit to making judgments about a company's credibility based on their website's design. Don't have the budget to hire a designer or branding agency? Check out free resources, like Canva, where you can create and download graphics, and photo sites, like Unsplash, where you can download images for commercial use with no licensing needed.
How will people find your new website if they don't know about it? This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. Today's search engines use complicated algorithms to rank organic and paid search results into their search engine results pages (SERPs). Organic search is budget friendly as it's one of the most effective ways to drive free traffic to your website. Paid search results, where you pay to have your website placed higher, will give you a good return on investment (ROI) on those SERPs where clicks and conversions are tracked. Of course, many think organic and paid search are more effective when they work together.
- Marketing your website
Your website is built. Traffic is trickling in. But things just aren't ramping up yet. How do you market your website beyond SEO and paid search results? There are actually many ways to boost your website for free. Email marketing and newsletters have proven to be one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. A well-designed email campaign will keep your site top-of-mind for potential customers and enable them to develop a bond with your brand.
Starting a blog about issues related to your business or guest blogging on similar sites will give you a valuable way to connect with your target audience. Start your own campaign on social media to leverage your website's blog or email marketing to a wider audience. Each social media channel differs, so choose to post on channels relevant to your business in order to get the best ROI.
Spending time on these little steps after your website has launched will help you build a community around your brand, and connecting with those potential customers on social media and email marketing is priceless.
Creating and launching an impactful website is no small task, but it can lead to fruitful results that will enable you to grow your business. Taking advantage of these best practices will help you to get the most out of your new website and achieve your business goals.