The 3 Pillars You Need to Know to Launch a Successful Website
According to one recent study, over 90% of all online interactions between a business and its customers still begins in the exact same way: with a search engine. This means that your organisation’s website is more than just a virtual business card. It potentially represents the beginning of what can absolutely be a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with the people you’ve dedicated yourself to serving.
No matter how active you are on social media, no matter how much print collateral you design, and no matter how many other marketing techniques you choose to employ, people are still likely to find your website before they find anything else.
This, in essence, is why website design is so important. You can only make one first impression, so it’s in your best interests to guarantee that yours is as positive as it can possibly be.
But at the same time, knowing how to design a website and knowing how to design a compelling, successful website are two different concepts. If you want to make sure that your web design process leaves you with a product that operates more like the latter than the former, there are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind.
It All Begins With a Plan
Many small business owners in particular make the mistake of assuming that their website “just needs to exist” to be successful. “As soon as we get our homepage online, we can start generating leads and start increasing revenue. It doesn’t matter what it looks like – it just needs to be there,” they think to themselves.
This is a mistake, as a critical part of website development involves understanding not only what your website needs to do, but how it needs to do it.
- When people find your business’ website for the first time, what are their goals going to be?
- Are they looking for more information about your products or services?
- Do they have a particular problem they’re trying to solve?
- Are they trying to learn more about a specific topic?
- What do they want and what are they searching for?
- How does your site fit in with your other online and print-based marketing efforts? How do they compliment one another?
The answers to these questions are ones that you MUST have at the beginning of the design process – and they’re impossible to get to if your site is little more than an afterthought. They’re also answers that are totally unique to A) your business, and B) your audience. There’s no “one size fits all” approach to web development. There’s not a cookie cutter structure you can follow that will guarantee success.
You must carefully consider what your side needs to do, and then identify the unique functionality that will be required to do it. This is why “planning” and “strategy” are two core components to any successful website that a lot of people overlook until it’s far too late.
Designing a Usable Website
It’s equally important to understand that the chasm between a website and a usable website is typically a deep one, indeed.
We’ve all visited websites that were confusing to use and difficult to navigate. What typically happens is that we almost immediately hit the “Back” button in our browsers, never to return. That’s exactly what is going to happen with your audience if the user experience just isn’t there.
For the best results, focus on important UX ideas like:
- Having a navigation structure in place that isn’t just easy-to-use, but that is consistent on every page. Your site’s design should be intuitive. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to find whatever it is they’re looking for without feeling like they have to go somewhere else to get it.
- Avoid using Flash-based animations and other gimmicks that ultimately take your customer’s attention away from the things that matter most, like your content.
- Make sure your site is easy-to-use on every type of device a customer might have. Your site can’t just look great on desktop and laptop computers. You also need to think about smartphones, tablets and other types of mobile devices.
- Above all else, make sure your site’s speed is lightning fast. More than half of your customers are going to leave your site forever if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Your Job is to Help People
In the end, the most important thing to understand is that your website is more than just a marketing tool. It’s a resource to use to make people’s lives better, and in that sense it isn’t too dissimilar to your products and services themselves.
You could have what is objectively the most aesthetically pleasing, well-designed website ever and it won’t mean anything if you don’t have the helpful, valuable, timely and relevant content to back it up. From the moment you launch, your site should be filled with articles, white papers, instructional videos and other materials that help people solve their challenges and accomplish their goals. You need to add to that content as frequently as you can.
This won’t just be a reflection of your site’s experience – it’s a reflection on your brand, too.
Yes, all of this sounds difficult and time-consuming – and in many ways, that’s because it is. You may feel like you can’t do it alone, and that’s perfectly okay. There are many partners out there who can not only help you launch a successful website, but who can also guarantee that it remains the perfect representation of everything you’ve already worked so hard to build moving forward.
Never forget that this is absolutely one of those situations where “getting it right” is more important than simply “getting it done.” If you’d like to find out more information about the critical things you need to know to launch a successful website, or if you’re just eager to learn more about how working with a web design agency can help improve your conversion rate and other important factors, please don’t delay – contact us today.