It may seem like a website owner just got lucky, is ahead of the curve, or has a must-have product, but having a successful online presence all comes down to design, as Alchemy Digital’s Will Morris explains.
Having a world class website never happens by accident. Having a website that engages visitors never happens by accident either. Having an extremely popular and well visited website? You can probably guess where were heading.
How many websites did you visit today? Chances are, you can’t recall.
And while we all know the Facebook website, and maybe eBay or Twitter, actually remembering what sites we visit less frequently look like is even trickier.
You probably remember a terrible online experience though. One that left you disappointed, confused or worse. Visitors to a badly designed website are far more likely to notice bad design than they are to notice a brilliant one.
So how do you achieve good design?
Well-planned sites make life easy. They solve problems by shining a light on what is important, and lead users straight to it, allowing decisions to be made easily, and highlighting content that you need or want in your life. Your visitors will not engage with you unless you followthese good design principles.
(1) Know your customer
Start by understanding the scenario you are designing for. Be honest with yourself, and your company. Do you really know who your visitors are? What are they interested in, and how do they want to use your service? Be entirely focused on your audience, and then focus on how your website should cater for them. If you can do that they will engage with you, and not your competitor’s website.
(2) Tailor your content
Provide your audience with something they want. Simple. The most engaging websites are the ones which have content entirely focused on you. News sites gradually get accustomed to the stories which you find interesting. Facebook does even more. The stories are all focused on your friends and family, creating a feed which is only really interesting to you.
The content on your website cannot be as focused as a Facebook newsfeed, but the point remains. If you understand what your target visitor wants and needs you can give it to them. Misunderstand your audience at your peril.
What about attracting customers to your site?
Attracting new visitors to your website is long argued point. Marketeers love talking about organic/paid marketing strategies, and throw in terms like above the line, below the line, and immersive advertising. Ultimately, though, there are very simple ways of gaining new visitors.
(3) Be honest
You can’t trick Google with cleverly coded keywords in your website it’s too clever. So just write honest content on your website, do it frequently, and make sure what you’re posting is varied.
(4) Get mobile
If you don’t have a mobile-ready website, get one. Google won’t be happy if you don’t, and your visitors will probably be looking at your website on a mobile device. don’t force them into a bad experience from the outset.
(5) Pay for traffic
If you can afford to pay for advertising there are lots of routes for you to consider. But be smart. Start small. Test your assumptions. Monitor the results, then tweak and repeat.
(6) Remember that social media is not magic
It won’t solve all of your problems, and can be executed incredibly badly. Think about your social media footprint carefully. Is it even important to your strategy? Be careful not to assume, because hasty social can be more trouble than it’s worth.
Once you have new visitors, make sure they come back by making sure that your products suit the individual you’re targeting and the services you offer are worth a second look. If your website is relevant and is updated regularly you will create revisits.
The best websites in the world use these tactics. But the one which will stand you in the best stead is starting with a smart digital strategy. Think strategically about your offering, and create website which delivers it to the right people. It really is simple.
Will Morris is the founder of design agency Alchemy Digital.