Your website is important and it can be the biggest investment of time and money for a business. As a digital agency in Yorkshire we speak with clients everyday about web design and the most common question to us is, ‘where do we start?’. A website is the best dynamic, interactive and potential important aspect of a marketing strategy so we believe you need to consider ten elements when developing your website, these are:
- Your audience – you need to define who your audience are. You may already know this from offline comms, however your online audience will most likely have different characteristics and online usage traits so you need to re-assess and develop a definition of who your wider audience are. It create the profile note down their persona including where they will hang out online e.g. social networks, forums, blogs, review sites. You need to truly understand everything about your audience and define how they will use your website. With this amount of insight you’ll be able to create an experience that is engaging and encourages loyalty.
- What is the purpose of the site? Do you sell, buy or work with people? Often misunderstood people develop websites without a clear understanding or how people research and purchase there products/services and the functionality becomes complicated and difficult to understand. To understand your audience will help you define the path you need to get to them, once you reached them you need to understand the purpose of the site will have for them. For us this means intepreting how they will interact through the site and ultimately convert. If you’re a store then create an ecommerce shop, if your service provider create a brochure site that is quick and easy to use.
- What do you want to portray – how people perceive you online in the first instance is completely down to how the website looks, users snatch at information and will form their opinion of you in seconds. With this in mind you have a small window of opportunity to capture their attention, you can’t afford to waste it. Once you got them it’s down to the content and context, engaging sites don’t bombard you with information instead they subtle portray volumes of information by display text and imagery. All together the look and feel from design to text will play a major role in the portrayal of your brand online and as sites are faceless you need to ensure the brand values you have built for the off-line business are successful portrayed online
- Who are your competition and what is good/bad about their websites? An excellent starting point for any website is to look at your competitors and note down elements of their websites you like, don’t like and could work for you. The beauty of looking at the competition is you can see who is performing in terms of seo as they’ll appear high in the results and then you can assess how they’re performing so well. Using your audience insight note down if your competition or delivering on what you believe your audience are looking for.
- How will the site be managed? The regular maintenance of a website is essential, the search engines want to see that you are actively developing the experience on your site and providing users with fresh and interesting content. A content managed website can provide you with the tools to fully control your site, however will you have the time to keep it up to date?
- What is the lifecycle of the site? – technology moves fast and in the space of a year your site could be out of date (think of all those people with flash websites!). If you’re considering designing a website we recommend you adopt the latest technology such as responsive design, social integration tools and established content management systems such as WordPress. Using the latest technology will ensure you site has longevity and is delivering an engaging experience for users and search engines.
- How do people view your site, mobile/tablet? The rapid growth of tablet ownership and mobile internet browsing has created the need for websites to be more flexible and adapt to the platform they are being viewed on without any loss of experience. If you consider you site will be viewed on the move or during social time then a fully responsive website should be considered or a dedicated mobile website.
- The importance of content – websites should be engaging and interesting for all visitors, this means creating content that can be indexed by the search engines, attracts an audience and when they’ve visited they will spend time reading it. With an understanding of the audience, how you want to perceived and the structure of the site you have everything you need to develop a website that has a content strategy in place from the day it’s launched. Remember you need to make content accessible, engaging and share-able, your site can make this happen.
- Data capture and email marketing – once you’ve engaged with someone you want to continue talking to them and email continues to be an effective way of outreaching to people. However you need to be more targeted in your communication. If someone shows an interest in the ‘SEO blog’ then create content and emails that are relevant to that topic, don’t send them content about website management.
- The rise of social media and sharing – perhaps one of the core elements to consider is making content share-able. Social is playing a major role in search engine optimisation and your circle, following and loyal supporters need to be encouraged to become your brand advocates, speaking only good things about you and spreading your word.
These are only a selection of the elements we consider when working with our clients on their website project but for a starting point they can provide context to your thinking. Elementary Digital design and develop user-centric websites, we focus on creating system that will deliver on business objectives, not pretty pictures that look good but don’t work.