Before we bring a client on we’ll often to an audit of their website, social media presence, and SEO. It’s not uncommon for us to find a lot of problem areas. And the most common ones happen on the client’s web page.
It’s really hard to overcome a bad first impression on the internet and bad websites are the worst! If the entirety of the internet is a job fair then your website is your handshake. You want it to be firm but not overbearing, memorable but not notorious, and lasting but not haunting. This is sometimes referred to as the goldilocks effect and finding that delicate balance can be more art than science. As with all art there’s no one hard and fast rule to making your website good or better, but here are some simple guidelines we keep in mind when designing for our clients:
DESIGN: Less is more
There’s a quote from Antoine de Saint Exupéry that I always refer to when talking about good website design:
“It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.”
Nowhere is this more true than your website design. If you want a good example of this take a look at the top dogs: Apple, Google, Baidu. There’s one thing these sites all have in common: a ton of white space! When we do an audit of a website we always always always look at where we can trim the fat and deliver a beautiful, clean website that will be nothing but eye candy.
Need some ideas for what you can eliminate? Take a look at your images (including infographics). These may seem like a great visual addition to your site, but they can be cumbersome and sometimes way too unnecessary. Here’s a good test to an image’s value on your site: open up your website, maximize the window, then get up and walk across the room. Can you tell what the image, page, site, text, whatever is and what its purpose is from a distance? No? Give it the axe… or at the last a real good edit.
Speaking of clean, remember the basics of design; CRAP: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity. Master those and you’re already ahead of the competition.
CONTENT: Stick to high-quality, user-generated content
Content is the money-maker for your website. If there’s one thing for certain it’s that google likes a clean internet. They’ve cracked down on duplicate content and they punish people who try to game the system by “hacking” their ranking. And really, let’s face it, nothing is more annoying than clicking on an article only to find out you’ve been had and it was either a phishing attempt or some other kind of click-bait.
Facebook’s recent crack down on click-bait and fake news should be indication enough that nobody likes it. Plan and simple. What people want to see is high-quality content that you create.
What makes it “high quality”? This is subjective, but our take on it is that it needs to be something people can’t get anywhere else; it needs to be thoughtful; it needs to represent your mastery in your field; and it needs to be purposeful. It also needs to be fresh — don’t do what everyone else in your industry is doing. Find your audience and give them something to build their loyalty. Videos, e-guides, white papers, and blogs are all great places to start.
COMMERCE: e-commerce and in-store updates
Make it as easy as possible for people to give you money! There is nothing more disheartening than a error when clicking the checkout button. There are a number of ways to “fix” your e-store, but what it comes down to is user experience. Where are they having problems and how can you fix them? Is it an update on a plug-in? Is it making sure your in-store inventory matches your online inventory? Find where the problem is, troubleshoot it, and fix it! Do a little role-playing and go through the entire process of purchasing something on your own store. How was it?
DISCOVERABILITY: Seo, Meta Descriptions, Google Analytics
I could have also called this section “inter-connectivity” but it’s about more than that — at least, it’s not JUST that. You want to drive people to your site and keep them there and the way you do that is word of mouth (social media), make it easy for them to discover you (google ranking/seo), and then you keep them there as long as possible (time on page and session duration) with tons of good content (see above). Let’s break this down:
- Social Media This is your lure. You’ve created a great piece of content and now you have to share it with the world. Having a killer social media following is the way to do it.
- On-site SEO This is about making your website discoverable. Google searching is still the number one way of being discovered and that only works if when google crawls your page they find the right meta-data and keywords in your content. Meta-data is the behind the scenes of your website. In the code of the website there will be embedded descriptions that tell search engines (most importantly Google) what your site is all about. If you’re a jewelry company and the word “necklace” doesn’t ever appear on your site then you’ve got some major issues.
- Time on Page/Session Duration This is more of the “interconnectivity” part of the section, but once you get people to your site you want them to stay as long as possible. You want them to click links, you want them to like and be engaged and enraptured by your content, and then you want them to click on the “add to cart” button. This is all tracked through Google Analytics and having a team than can set that up, interpret, and optimize that experience will raise you up above the mucky-muck.
Managing Your Web Page
Need help setting up your website and keeping it fresh? At FEAD we specialize in that kind of thing… it’s sort of what we do best. Feel free to contact us and we can help figure out what kind of website you need and how best to support your business.