By Louis Tanguay, Special to California Business Journal
These days, business owners are bombarded with options for new websites, free websites, WordPress theme websites, and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) websites. People hear “website design” and think about graphics, or they hear about how a “web designer” can build a website for them for a few hundreds dollars. There is enough information out there to confuse most business owners…and it does.
Fear not, I’m here to give you some basic guidelines about websites, so you can make better decisions about what’s best for you and your business. I’ll give you some quick hits with brief explanations about the realities of Websites.
What IS “Website Design.” First, let’s talk about what Website Design actually is, and isn’t. Website design is not just graphics. A website’s goal is to be (in many cases) your front-facing 24/7 information assistant for anyone interested in your business. Graphics are just the clothes. Do you buy a car because of its color and exterior design? That’s part of it, but you’ll end up with a poor choice if that’s all you cared about when buying a car, right? Same with websites. What’s under the hood? How’s the suspension? What other features some with it? Website “Design” is how the entire website is designed from an informational arrangement point of view to how the text is going to lead potential customers to contact you to capturing visitor information to (as you already know) the graphics on the page.
Pay vs Free: Why pay someone for a website when you can do one yourself for free? Well, unless you’re a marketing and conversion optimization expert, you probably should hire someone. Likewise, if some “web designer” wants to give you a cheap WordPress theme for $200, you can probably bet that money that you’re not getting more than exactly that. A cheap theme with cheap labor. It might be more expensive, but if you pay for an optimized website that’s built by an expert (or team of experts), then you’re more likely to recoup that money in sales from that superior website. See the big picture here. A cheap website will cost you more in lost sales than an expertly website will cost you in actual dollars spent. This is 100% fact.
Call-to-Action: Every page needs to have a Call-To-Action on it. This means there must be a way for the visitor to contact you, buy something, or call you. Limit your calls to a single main one per page for better results. Depending on the page and the goal of the website, will determine what that call-to-action should be.
Copy: Speak in the voice of your company and in a language/phrasing that your potential customers can and will relate to. If you’re targeting pre-teens, it’s best to to leave the $20 words and/or adult-speak off the page because that can be a hella turn off. Likewise if you’re targeting financial advisors or investors; it then behooves you to leave the colloquial language off the page. Speak to your audience in the language they use, but one which still fits your company’s brand.
Development: Part of the “design” of a website involves the server, the coding, and how the website is created. If you use a WordPress Theme you bought for $20 off of a website, then beware because WordPress is updated on a regular basis. If the creator of your theme doesn’t keep up with the security updates, your website might be vulnerable to hackers. If the creator quits, gives up on the theme, or dies, then eventually your theme might not be compatible with the newer WordPress versions, browsers, systems, or servers. Another downside with generic themes is that they’re generic. They’re built for an all-in-one usage. This means there is usually bloated code in the theme for features you will probably never use, bogging down your website, making it slower, and causing you the rank lower on Search Engines. The best option for you is to create a custom website that is created with your specific needs in mind.
Optimization: Last but not least (for this article, anyway) is the optimization of the website. Is your website optimized for mobile devices, Search Engine ranking for the right keywords your potential customers are using to find your kind of business, social media platforms to display shared pages correctly, or, optimized to retain and retarget visitors at a later time? Adding in the correct tracking, analytics, and display codes are essential to your website’s magnetic abilities to draw more and more users back, and to it for the first time.
These are the largest “errors” I have seen with all too many websites. Heed these warnings, and this advice, your website will be better than 95% of the websites out there.
Louis Tanguay is Managing Director of Circle Marketing. He founded the agency seven years ago during the recession. Having over 20 years of marketing and business experience, Louis wanted to help businesses acquire and retain the essential abilities and strategies to survive in any economy. Circle Marketing is a full-service marketing agency for small businesses and serves as a one-stop shop for all marketing and advertising needs.