26th March 2015

Your Journey Starts Here
Making the most of your website is one of the best things you can focus on, not only as a start-up business but as your business grows too. Quite often your website is the first contact a prospective customer has with your business so you need to make a good first impression.

It is this first impression which will influence the customer as to whether they take the next step in the ‘sales’ process with your business.

AIDA – gain their Attention, create an Interest, give them a Desire, lead them to take Action.

Your website is a sales tool for your business, whether you are offering a service or a product. You should employ the A.I.D.A process in the design, content, functionality, and ‘after sales’ service of your site.

Here’s a few tips on making the most of your site:

Design

Incorporate your branding from the outset so that the user becomes familiar with ‘the face’ of your business.

Don’t try to be too elaborate with your design – flashing images and videos may look impressive but if not relevant to your business they can hinder a swift and easy navigation towards what the customer is actually looking for.

Don’t overfill the pages with background images and patterns. The content of the text is ultimately the most important element on the page and should be easy to read at all times – the use of simple fonts on a plain (even white) coloured background is much more legible than fancy lettering on a highly patterned or moving background.

Pictures and photos are a good way of breaking up text but don’t over-use them. Images should be there to guide the user to the information they are seeking, or to highlight specific sections. Always label your images and ensure you have given them ‘alt tags’. These describe the picture, just in case the user is unable to download the image. They also help the search engines to index the images, so include keywords in your alt tags.

Content

Too much text (or content) on a page will drive the user away – they will simply get bored with reading! If you have lots of content that is absolutely necessary, try using bullet points. You can use links from these bullet points to additional pages if you feel further explanation is required.

Try to limit each page to 3 major pieces of information. Give clear instruction as to where they can find out more if they need to, such as links to additional pages, contact details, links to external sites (but ensure these links bring the user back to your page or open in a new tab otherwise you run the risk of losing them from your site).

When writing content make sure its about solving the problem for the customer – what you can do for them, rather than just about what you can do. The best home page headline will focus on what the customer needs, rather than what you can offer so think carefully about how you word your content.

New content added to your site should be made prominent. This will encourage returning visitors to your site. Have a ‘New Products’ page; a section on the homepage with links to the new content; or a blog page with a ‘news feed’ on the homepage, for example.

Whilst pictures, photos, images, videos, and infographics all enhance a website, they should be relevant, meaningful, and chosen carefully to ensure the best content mix.

Functionality

Poor navigation and inability to find what you’re looking for are the main reasons potential customers move away from a website. There is nothing more frustrating than wasting time pressing links and getting nowhere! Make it obvious where the links are. Use obvious categories and headings, and be precise with your subsections. The rule of thumb is that if the user can’t find what he’s looking for in 3 clicks, he’ll go and look at another site.

Consider having a ‘search box’ which allows the user to look for things that might be hidden within your website. ‘Google Custom Search’ is free, and an easy way to include the function. If you’re administering the website yourself, just paste the HTML code into your site and immediately you’ll have the ability to search.

In our world of ever changing technology, accessing the internet on mobile devices is ever increasing. It is now a fundamental necessity to create a website with a mobile compatible design. The second largest source of internet traffic in the UK is via mobile phones and tablets. You will be missing out on a vast sector of potential customers without a mobile-friendly website.

‘After Sales’

If your website has grabbed the customer’s attention, has kept them interested, and given them a desire for your product  or service, don’t lose them by not giving clear instructions as to what actions they now need to take. Every page should have a ‘call to action’ either inviting the customer to telephone, complete a contact form, or to find further information by following a link, for example.

Ensure the user knows how to contact you should they wish to. Your contact details (phone number, email, and address) should be listed clearly, and in an obvious place. A ‘contact form’ can be used but this is not particularly useful to people who want an instant or quick answer to their query. Don’t drive customers away from your site by being ‘unavailable’!

Encourage people to register an interest in your site by providing a ‘subscription’ to a weekly / monthly / quarterly newsletter. This also helps create a database of existing and potential customers for your business.

Use other online tools to keep in touch with customers. Set up your own social media accounts and invite them to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter for example. Don’t forget to make the connection process easy by including links to your social media accounts on your website. Social media can work both ways by directing customers back to your website by including links to your webpages in your tweets and Facebook status updates.

Thought and consideration for your customers at the outset will improve the user journey, and ensure that customers are less likely to leave your website prematurely and are also more likely to revisit.

Written by Davina Young @ Nwes

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