You can’t have a website that meets your audience’s needs if you’re clueless as to who they are. Know your demographic – are you targeting males or females? Young or old? Are you looking for a local audience or an international one? What are their needs and goals? Figure out who you are targeting and build the website to speak to them.
Once you know who your audience is, you need to engage them. A clear, simple message that’s explained through well-written, informative web content will engage them and keep them on your site. A site for advanced electronics engineers should differ wildly from one designed for senior citizens. A proper website must be built with a deep understanding of your audience and designed to help them find whatever it is they are seeking before they go elsewhere for it.
Part of making your site engaging is making it personal. Consumers will most likely conduct their business with people and organizations they know and like. Online, “knowing you,” can be as simple as seeing a real street address, photos of your location, photos of your staff, bios, history, or testimonials. About Us pages are often of the most popular page on a website. Once users have been engaged and find the information they want, they are going to check if you are the kind of business they want to buy from.
Tell users what to do and guide them through the process. A strong and clear call to action helps your audience find the results they want. Calls to action vary – like, “Call for More Information,” or “Buy Now,” or “Donate,” or “Download our Whitepaper” – anything that you want your customers to do. Calls to action should be strategically placed for visibility and scattered throughout the whole website.
Understanding your audience and their needs helps determine the navigational structure of your site. Make sure the information your audience needs most is easy to find. Don’t use fancy words and jargon in your menus – use clear and straightforward language. You’ll also want to be certain that your menus work well on phones and mobile devices.
Design is the general “look” of your site – the layout, colors, fonts, and graphics that all come together to create your site. The design needs to be more than just “pretty,” it also needs to work for your audience. For example: if your audience is older, make sure to have larger fonts. If your audience is technical, a simpler square design would be best. If your audience is primarily women, you may want softer curves and inviting color schemes.
Sure, design is important. Your website is the first impression many people have of your business. Just as important as the “look” of your site, however, is the usability. Usability is essentially a combination of the design, navigation, and content of your site. Simply put: make it simple! It takes effort to make a simple, easy-to-use site – but it will pay off in the long run!
Consistency is an important aspect of your website and all of your branding. You want consistency in the way your site works, in the design, in the message, and in all of your marketing materials. Pay attention to consistency throughout your marketing. If you cannot deliver a consistent message, attitude, or style, your customers may have difficulty deciding their opinion of you and lose (or never gain) the essential trust mentioned earlier.
At this point in the information era, your site must be mobile friendly. These days, more searches are conducted on mobile devices than desktop computers. Users want sites that are easy to read on a phone with friendly mobile menus. Make sure to check your site on a phone to see how it looks.
Today, most users are browsing on Google Chrome. There are, however, many users who are still fond of Firefox, Safari, the various versions of Internet Explorer, and more obscure browsers like Opera. Your web designer should be checking the functionality and aesthetic of your site in every major browser to make sure it works on a variety of platforms.