I genuinely thought about writing this article with eight words;
‘Because you don’t want it to be crap.’
However, I realise that probably doesn’t go into enough detail. So here you go…
You’ve seen the emails, you’ve heard the promises. “You too can have a website for £99”. But the question is, would you really want one?
It’s cheap, yes, but is it effective? I’m always telling clients that a company website is the single most important marketing tool today, and this is why.
- 90% of people don’t trust websites that have mistakes.
- 90% of people that phone, email or visit your business will have researched your company online first.
- 94% of business to business customers research online before making procurement decisions.
- 85% of customers look online or ‘Google it’ before making purchase decisions.
- 75% of people trust online reviews and say they are influenced by positive or negative online reviews.
- It takes 2.6 seconds for a visitor to your website to have that all important ‘first impression’ about your company and brand.
When put like that, it doesn’t make business sense to leave your websites to mass marketing firms, your well-meaning brother-in-law or Gary from the pub, however cost effective they may be. What you really need is a well-designed, functional, responsive and integrated website – not something that just looks pretty (I’m not sure Gary would even make it look pretty, but that’s by the by).
Your company’s website says a lot about who you are, and when you’re saying it, it needs to say ‘we are professional’, ‘we are the best in our industry’ and ‘we are solid and trustworthy’.
As the UK’s largest search engine, Google studies in every detail how people interact with websites. Google takes tracking these interactions very seriously and, from this information, we can gain important insights that can help us influence the way our online presence is represented.
For example, customers move between devices when engaging with a company online. So when you have an interested person looking at your website from their laptop, mobile or tablet, the experience and 2.6 second first impression must be exactly what you want them to see.
With ecommerce websites, studies show that re-engaging with a customer within the first 60 minutes of them having abandoned their shopping basket is optimal in improving sales conversion rates. By contacting customers back to remind them they have unfinished business with you lets them know that you are interested in them. When approaching this side of the web design process you want to make their experience with the brand as slick and professional as possible.
But let us take a step back for a moment. Before your customer has even visited your website they will have come across your brand alongside all those of your competitors – in Google search results, or on Twitter. People turn first to search engines and social media channels to learn about products. This is where your customer’s journey starts.
It’s no good having the best looking website in town if no one knows it’s there. Company websites have to work for their place in society. Getting the SEO-structure of your website right will help you to manipulate how your brand appears on search engines to create the best first impression. Getting your social markup right in the code of your website will help you present product pages to their best advantage on social media.
The customer experience for your brand also needs to be rolled out to all online channels your business uses, such as search engine marketing and social media channels, so that prospective customers understand they have found a business they can trust.
Your website is not just about selling (ok, so yes, it is mostly about selling but not all about selling). Good web design can accommodate other business goals too. Your website should also be about the customer service experience, which, if done right, will reduce costs for your business. This is just as important to your bottom line as selling more products is.
If you can nurture people through the after-sales experience online, you free up your phones to enable your sales team to carry on doing what they do best – selling.
Examples of this could be to provide a place to easily reorder spares and repairs, or a customer login area to enable the download of user manuals. You can also avoid huge postal costs of brochures if you allow people access to PDFs online, and you can reduce inbound calls to your business by providing well-written content that leads customers through FAQs.
Businesses that want to generate sales or business leads online need to focus on making their websites look and feel professional. This means building a site that contains engaging and persuasive content to assist in the psychology of convincing customers that they will go on to purchase from you and not a competitor.
More than that, it means getting the ‘technical bits’ of your website right. The way your website is coded, how tricky parts of your website work such as the shopping baskets and checkout systems, even where and how it is hosted will ensure that your customers have a reliable and trustworthy experience.
When it comes to web design and development, getting it right is vitally important for all businesses. Those that fail to heed this warning are putting their business reputation at risk.
So with all these considerations in mind, it is time to stop thinking about your website as a cost, but to instead think of it as an investment. You spend money to make money, so spend wisely.