When you take your company online, you’re doing so to help reach an audience far beyond your local area. If you’re a small start-up on a sleepy industrial estate, your reach is somewhat limited, but by launching a website – either for the first time or as part of a rebranding – you could end up working with companies and customers around the world.
This means that your new website needs to be designed in such a way that you make an instant impact. Unprofessional sites put off many people and they get the immediate opinion that your company isn’t as great as you claim to be. With a professional looking site that makes a positive impression in the first few seconds, you can change that opinion and encourage them to do business with you time and time again. So how do you do this?
Put simply, there is no quick fix, templated guide to making a successful site, it’s all about how it’s designed and what you put on it. There are five steps that you can, and should, follow with the development of your site, whether you’re working with a professional agency like DHUB or doing it yourself using a template.
The best place to start with any planning for a new website is at the beginning. What do you want to achieve and portray, and how do you want to do it? Is the purpose of your website to drive sales or show yourself off as an industry leader with some great creative ideas and showing a fountain of knowledge?
You don’t want to simply replicate the site of a competitor or another business, you want something truly unique that shows off everything great about your brand – what you do, your brand colours, your logo, your services, not someone else’s, so creating a structured brief with your designers is almost the foundation of your new site.
You need to have some idea exactly how to help users find what they’re coming for. In a high street shop, you’d put your most eye-catching items in the window, or you’d clearly label the sections of the store – a bit like a supermarket. With a website, you either find something or you can’t and you go elsewhere, so working on the organisation and layout is key. You can have all the latest gimmicks and amazing designs all over the site, but if people can’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, it’s all wasted.
Content and Design
When designing the interface, it needs to serve several purposes. You need to be both professional and memorable, something that is often difficult to achieve and many brands fail at this hurdle. By working on the design in great detail, you can show off your professionalism and high quality goods and services, as well as showing your brand colours and logos – don’t just go for bright colours or huge images as these can be an eyesore.
The content is also key as you need to make sure that you are writing for your audience. If you’re selling a service, you need to show that you have expertise but also that you’re friendly and approachable, not just robots behind a computer screen. A friendly but professional style and tone of writing will help to portray this, but again, make sure this is in your initial strategy to maintain the same concepts throughout the website.
Producing the Site
When you’re entirely happy with the progress of the site, you can then give it the sign off with the designers. Don’t just sit back and let them run the show, it’s your site and you should be involved throughout because nobody knows the business quite like you do. Yes, allow the designers to have their creativity and give them plenty of slack, but make sure your brand values and qualities shine through before you sign off as little as a single section of the site. You need to be happy with the final product before it goes live or it’s a huge waste of money that will reflect poorly upon the company.
On-going Maintenance and Services
Having got your brand new site, you want to ensure that it remains in a good condition, and that your site can be found as quickly as possible in search results. This might involve employing the services of an SEO – search engine optimisation – agency who will look after factors such as your key search terms and any errors that occur within the website which will hamper performance in terms of site speed, visibility and structure.