The web design world is entirely too focused on the vision of the business. You hate to hear me say it, but it is the dead honest truth. We tell our clients all of the time: your prospects don't care about what you want, they care about what they want. Our philosophy at Hughes & Co. is that your website should start as an employee. Low level. Lowest level in fact. It should be built to do a job, and that job should be to attract new business. What else are you spending all of that money for?
Lose the Flashy Distractions
First, lets just say lose the flash. Flash has no business being on a website any longer. It was cool, it is over. Nobody wearing acid wash jeans looks cutting edge. The same is true of the websites that are employing flash, or the web designers that are using their antiquated skill set as a sales tool. RED FLAG.
Second, the fluffy junk that doesn't do much for your message needs to go. If you could say it in fewer words, do. Flashy graphics are not the meat and potatoes that your customers are looking for. We believe in User Experience Design. That means you should visit your website as the user, not the business owner, and really take a good look at how hard it is to figure out what you do, and more importantly, how hard it is to connect with you. Slider images, great! Make sure they send you somewhere. Why are they sliding around if you aren't trying to monopolize on valuable space to send important messages that direct your consumers to a Call to Action.
Make Sure Your Website Works
Dead links? Really bad for business. Bad grammar? Worse. Spelling mistake? Say good bye to your prospect. It really does matter, all of it. You need to be aware of how you are being perceived.
Calls To Action
Would you let someone walk into your storefront and not take a stab at offering them expertise in exchange for some information on their needs? Absolutely not! So why does your website allow that to happen? It shouldn't. You can do better than that, and you should be doing better than that. Find a web designer that understands the primary functions of a site and then ask them how it is going to make you money. If there is a pause, a brief moment of "unsure how to monetize" or the "your website is really more of a sales tool" conversation that begins, they are not for you. You take your business way too seriously to invest in expertise that is not going to grow your business. Return on Investment should be natural for people who understand how the internet works for business.
Social Media Integration
Go social, your customers are waiting for you. In fact, there are customers that you didn't even know you were missing out on and they are waiting for you too! Pick one medium and do it well. Not sure how to get started? We have a free e-book that will give you the goods you need. It is in the sidebar, or on the homepage, or any number of other pages because it is a Call To Action and we really believe that you need to read it to understand what you are doing right (and wrong).
Your website content is essential. I am regularly baffled by businesses that will pay for their website to be built and then will work on the content themselves. Big mistake. Build a free website and hire a content specialist if you have a tight budget. You are nothing without a strong content strategy to make your site the search engine friendly worker bee that you know your business could benefit from. I will use this website (the one you are reading this on) as an example of how big of a difference content can make.
We made the switch to HubSpot, who we are now partnered with (yeah!), and really began to focus on content and making our website work for our business. Before we saw mostly direct traffic and some referral traffic from social media. Today, we see the majority of our traffic from organic search. Our content changes regularly to better match what is happening in the world of search so that our website is found by the people we want to have find it. On top of that, we see a 14% conversion rate on our site. This is high, it is not demonstrative of every single account we work on (although we have clients with better rates that we have). Conversion means that our site is taking people that visit and encouraging them to contact us through a download, through our contact page, our education page and other forms on the site. These are now leads for our business. We do a few thousand hits a month, you can do the math. Our website works hard 24/7, and that is why we have invested our time in making it something special. It has dramatically shortened our sales cycle.
Blog, Blog and then Write Another Blog
Blogging is the best way to have regular relevant content on your website. It is so important to write compelling blogs that teach the reader something that they didn't know, or to show them something that they might not otherwise find. Blogs are the new publishing medium of choice, so position your business as the expert and get real with your prospects and clients. They will appreciate the intel and you will have a great information source to point them to if questions arise while you are doing business with them. Our first blog posts with a client are always the Frequently Asked Questions. Think about what your clients or prospects ask you the most, and then write a blog post about each one of those questions.
Aesthetic is important, it is. But it isn't everything, in fact, it isn't even close. Most web designers get this and will work on your content with you. If you happen to find yourself in the hands of one that won't, that is unfortunate and you should seek a specialist to give you a hand. We are specialists and there are plenty of others but know that you should do some homework on the right questions to ask before you sit down to discuss your job with them. Simply being able to write is not good enough, they need to understand how those words will propel your success.