10 top tips for your website

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So you’re revamping your website. It can be a daunting task and difficult to know where to start.  At Catgraphics we believe in getting the basics right, so here are our ten top tips to get your thinking on the right track.

1. Build your website to meet your visitors’ needs

Understand your visitors’ expectations and build your site accordingly.  If they are on your site to buy products, don’t make them wade through reams of unnecessary copy before they can.  “Your site must focus on your visitors’ interests and address the question of what’s in it for them and how to improve their businesses and lives”, say Chad Barr and Alan Weiss, authors of Million Dollar Web Presence. 

2. Ensure it meets your business goals as well

At the same time, have a very clear understanding of your purpose.  What are your overall objectives?  What do you want visitors to do when they get there? What is your call to action?  Only once you know these answers can you design a website that achieves your business goals.   

3 .Get your homepage right

Most visitors have short concentration spans.  Keep your homepage simple, concise and useful.  Make sure you tell people what you do – don’t assume they know.  Stunning graphics are fine, as long as they load quickly and tell a story.  Don’t overwhelm your visitors with clutter. 

4. Look and feel

Design is crucial and it pays to use professionals.  Gone are the days of blinking or flashing text - and animation for the sake of it is out.  The trend is towards clean, simple, subtle design that reinforces the objectives of your website.  Flat design, which uses simple graphic images like those used on the new Apple iPhones or the Windows 8 Start menu, has replaced heavy 3D images.  

5. Short, sweet content

Keep copy concise.  Employ a copywriter skilled in web content.   If your message is complex, for example when describing new technology, it is even more vital to use plain language and keep the content as short as possible.  Use white space to make text easier to digest and break up the copy with headings and sub-headings.

6. Remember mobile

More and more visitors will come to your website via smart phones and tablets so it needs to display properly on mobile devices as well.  Responsive design is one solution.  Sites are built to recognise the device being used to view them and display accordingly. Pete Cashmore of mashable.com sums it up:  “The benefits are obvious: You build a website once, and it works seamlessly across thousands of different screens.”  If responsive design is out of your scope, make sure your site navigation is uncluttered, your design simple and your copy short. Or think about apps or mobi sites to cater for those using mobile devices.  

7. Make it dynamic

Your website needs constant attention so that it draws visitors back.  Keep it alive, informative and active.  Ensure copy is kept updated.  If you offer real value, visitors will return. Think about offering free information, fun quizzes or product specials.  

8. Think social media

Social networking should be an integral part of your website to ensure more exposure for your business.   By identifying the social media on which you want to concentrate, and integrating them into your website, you increase the potential for others to spread your content around to a much wider audience. More about social media in a future article, but for now, don’t forget this vital aspect when planning your website.  

9. People won’t stumble onto your website – you need to get them there

Simply publishing your website won’t miraculously result in hoards of visitors.  You need to direct people there.  Promote your site in all your marketing efforts and incentivise visits using competitions or special offers.   You also need to pay close attention to search engine optimisation.

10. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital

Many people look for products and services using search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Ananzi.  Effective SEO will ensure your website is presented to all those searching for what you offer.  It is a complex, in-depth science and it’s worth using the professionals to get it right.   More about this in our next monthly article.