Website design is a tricky business to be in. I speak from experience. Since 2011, we have been helping business owners, marketing managers, executive directors, and more build incredible websites. The one thing nearly everybody wants is for us to do is to create a website that is perfect. But you know what? A “perfect” website may not exist.
This doesn’t mean perfection can’t be a goal, though. Here are some tips to help you get your ducks in a row and get your website is as close to perfect as it can be.
Identify the goal of your website
We receive calls and emails on a regular basis regarding website builds. One of the first questions we ask is, “If your website could only do one thing, what would it be?” This may seem like an obvious question, but its answer is often overlooked. Do you want people to call you for a consultation? Do you want to inspire trust? Do you want to sell products? Do you want people to read your blog posts?
Identify your target audience
This can be tricky to narrow down. If you can’t identify your target audience, you will never have a perfect website. One technique I sometimes use to help define a target demographic is to come up with a fictional character who you can see your business interacting with. What neighborhood do they live in? Where do they work? What kind of family do they have? Do they watch TV? Are they a Facebook user? Even if you don’t have solid data, it’s a good idea to have an image of this person in your mind. Building a website without knowing your user’s profile almost guarantees your site won’t help you reach your goals.
Make sure your site includes these critical elements
Easy-to-find contact information
Is your phone number or contact form easy to find? If not, you should make that your first priority. Even if your site is designed for people to use it and leave it, they should have a way to contact a human if there are questions or concerns.
Does your menu make sense? Are important links hidden in a “site map” somewhere? Larger sites suffer from this more than smaller sites, but I’ve seen plenty of small sites where I couldn’t tell where anything was. I’ve even seen sites where the menu was different on every page. Every search engine looks for usable navigation when indexing sites. So in addition to confusing users, you may end up finding your site doesn’t show up in a basic Google search.
Strong calls to action
For a website to be effective, it has to have a call to action. Sometimes you need more than one. It doesn’t have to be aggressive. A simple “Contact Us” button can do the job if it’s properly placed.
User-friendly graphic design
Your website is not for you. It’s for your visitors, customers, potential clients, etc. You want your web design to reflect your brand and image, but making sure your site is usable is the only way you can achieve your goals.
Social media interaction
“We don’t do Facebook,” and, “I don’t understand Twitter,” have become common refrains among many small business owners recently. With all of the concerns regarding privacy on Facebook and politics on Twitter it’s easy to see why people want to get away from those platforms. But your site’s visitors are using social media. They’re having conversations about you. Connecting your site to social media sites is how you connect to the world.
Create great content
Written content, properly tagged images, and unique videos will go a long way in keeping users engaged on your site. That said, creating great content can be a challenge. If you’re not a writer, it may be in your best interest to find somebody to help you. Read newsletters and websites that are relevant to your industry. Follow your competitors on social media. By absorbing ideas from other sources, you’ll find that creating content will become second nature for you. If all else fails, great content can be created by somebody who offers search engine optimization services.
Realize that your website might not be perfect
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Perfect is the enemy of done.” When you start building a new website, keep in mind that having a good website is better than having no website. While it’s best to begin with the end in mind, it’s more important to just get started.
Websites are meant to be changed. Website software changes. The internet changes. People change. All of these changes mean that the perfect website is a moving target. A website that is perfect today may be terrible tomorrow. If you’re ready for a new website, getting it started and launched is more important than making it perfect.