Looking forward to eating the leftovers from that awesome restaurant you went to last night only to discover your roommate ate them is frustrating. The car driving too close behind you when there are two passing lanes to the left of you is annoying. But trying to navigate a poorly designed website or not finding one at all for a company you are searching for can be downright infuriating.
The short-term task of creating and developing a website can seem daunting, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the upfront costs. A website is a cost-effective way to create a “face” for your brand and the products, services or causes it stands behind. It allows you to connect with your audience at any moment in any capacity you choose: print, video, audio, interactive messaging, etc.
You wouldn’t show up to a client meeting with half-prepared work or poorly dressed, so why would you have a website that is difficult to navigate and aesthetically unappealing? A deficient website is an inadequate representation of your brand, and there is too much information available on this subject today for this to be excusable. Maybe you aren’t a culprit of this, but plenty of businesses are.
On that note, here are some things to consider when designing (or redesigning) your company’s website.
What is the purpose of creating the website?
Are you selling a product or service? Are you creating awareness for a cause? The content discussed throughout the website should be obvious after the first few seconds the homepage appears. Of course, you don’t want to include all of the details on the first page, but you should be able to grasp the mission or vision of the company after skimming over the first view (no scrolling down) of the page.
Who do you expect to be visiting the website?
Will customers who have never heard of your purpose before be looking or will it be other companies in your trade? You want to tailor the information and design to accommodate all types of viewers. It is safer to error on the side of simplicity. Even visitors who know all of the jargon in your industry will appreciate a clear and concise presentation of the information you are trying to communicate.
How will you know if your site is benefiting you?
Set goals to measure the effectiveness of your website based upon your business needs. If you are hoping that your website becomes a forum to exchange stories or ideas, track the responses to your postings. If you plan to communicate information on your website that you don’t provide many other places, consider looking into an analytic tracking system. Google Analytics, Piwik and Clickyall are free web analytic software programs that track visitors, what links they click on most frequently, what keyword searches brought them to your website and much more.
What is your future vision for the website?
Sure, plans can change in a short amount of time, but, overall, what type of growth do you expect for your website looking ahead? You don’t need to know the specifics just yet, but having a general idea can save you from a lot of time spent overhauling your current website design in the future. For example, is your company looking to merge with another soon? Could you easily incorporate that into the existing website? What about the addition of another product? Could that be added easily too?
How long will this information be relevant?
Product and company information changes continuously. Think about how often you want to/need to update your website information. Look into a website design that will allow you to easily change information. You can bet you will have to do it at least once. Consider that relevant websites are changing on a regular basis to provide the most pertinent information to viewers.
In the technology-driven world today, your company’s website is a crucial element in the relationship with your audiences. Putting forth the effort to create a well- designed and user-friendly website will increase your company’s exposure and give you more control over your brand’s reputation.
Here are some website design links to get you started as well: The Best Designs, Make Better Websites, and Site Inspire.