Create a website that works – eight key ingredients

Hand draws with chalk on chalkboard, website layout, design, words stating "slider", "text", create a website tha works: eight key ingredients

The best-laid plans: make sure you have a clear idea before embarking on the design process
 
By DAVID BOYES

HOW to create a business website that WORKS is a tough trick to pull off.

The problem is that many organisations make a mess of website content and they become blinded by over-fussy functionality.

Whether it’s an all-singing, all-dancing e-commerce mega-production or a simple brochure design, all websites do the same thing – they communicate with your target audience and they act as the hub at the centre of all online activity.

And if that communication is not coherent, succinct and interesting, visitors are going to be turned off – rapidly.

Remember: a peeved customer will usually become a prejudiced customer, meaning that they will in future actively avoid a website that has failed to engage them.

Simplicity is invariably the key to good website design and powerful message delivery – as well as the resultant brand awareness and reputational enhancement.

This guide provides the eight invaluable pointers that will help organisations of all sizes adopt best practice, so they can create a website (or upgrade one) so that it truly meets their needs.

As has been stated by me before, a website is an organisation’s best “employee”, who is on duty 24/7, politely and positively communicating key messages to new visitors and previous customers.

The message is a no-brainer: Look after your star-performer, and it will look after you.

Too many notes, Mozart

If your home page is a blizzard of graphics, text, photographs, spinning carousels, sidebars and feeds that are all vying for attention in the same cluttered space, visitors are going to be turned off.

Establish beforehand what your single, most important corporate message is, then ensure that it becomes the prominent feature on the home page. After that, prioritise the other features in order.

If something doesn’t need to be on the home page, move it further inside the site. Like Emperor Joseph II said to Mozart in the film Amadeus: “There are simply too many notes.”

Be the clever type

Text and typefaces are a bear trap for the uninitiated. Do not use underscored text – it looks like hyperlinked material. If there are links in the body of the site, they will be lost.

Stick to a clean, unfussy typeface and don’t adulterate it (i.e don’t squeeze or stretch it). Leave it to “breathe” in its natural state. It was designed to look the way it does by experts, so don’t meddle with it.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES use white type on a black or colour background, except in headlines or subsidiary headlines, which use bigger type sizes. White on black (WOB, as it’s known in the trade) or white on colour are incredibly difficult to read. They exhaust the eye and break concentration.

It’s not a treasure hunt

Make content easy to find. If visitors have to scratch around to locate information, they’ll be off in a flash – possibly to a rival’s website. Utilise straightforward menus and drop-downs.

Let it be

To repeat the point made at the start of this blog post: a website’s function is to communicate with its target audience. Businesses have to make sure that the key piece of information they wish to convey is “in the visitor’s face”.

If it’s only contact details, consider placing these along the bottom of every website page. If there is a product or service, and the aim is to get visitors to click, sign-up or share, make sure the content is located in a relevant place.

It’s a social club

With hundreds of millions of people the world over now using social media platforms, companies must make it easy for site visitors to share content. Social sharing buttons on blog posts, for example, make it convenient for visitors to become brand advocates with a single click.

This provides organisations with the potential to spread messages to wider audiences.

Seek and ye shall find

A search function will help keep visitors on-site in the event they arrive out of the blue or have been misdirected to the wrong part of a website by an errant hyperlink in a social media message.

Furthermore, place social media account links on the home page, which will allow newcomers to hook up with businesses on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, et al.

Watch out

Regular checks will ensure that the website functions without any hitches. A daily visit by a member of staff will pick up any problems promptly.

The sooner a problem is identified, the sooner it can be rectified. Don’t forget to check the site’s responsiveness by visiting it on a smartphone or tablet.

Here is the website news

A blog or news section is an absolute must on every present-day website. Apart from giving a business the opportunity to spread new messages, it provides the perfect excuse for a Tweet, Facebook post or LinkedIn update.

Not only that, all the fresh content is brilliant for SEO purposes and will keep businesses towards the top of the Google rankings.

Golden rule: keep it up to date. If not, an organisation may appear to have ceased trading businesses or be behind the times. A blog also has the beauty of being able to confer “expert” status on the author.

©WordMediaCo Ltd. If you wish to reproduce or translate this article, you may do so, provided you add the following credit: This article was written by David Boyes. He is a media consultant and trainer who empowers businesses to use social media more strategically. For more information visit: http://www.wordmedia.co