Standing Out on the Internet
Standing out in any marketplace today is no easy feat. Before the advent of internet marketing, just having a website was enough, but today your website will need to, not only function, but excel in some key areas in order to stay on top and beat out the competition. Without targeting these areas, your business will inevitably max out on growth potential. According to USC Annenberg the average American spends about 24 hours each week on the internet. It would behoove us as business owners to know how to rise above the competition in this arena, since this is where a great majority of our audience can be found. While there are numerous touch points to focus on for the success of your website, following are a few highlights to keep in mind as you move forward. If you’re not well-versed in web design, it might be worth hiring a company to handle these important areas for you, so you can free up some time to focus on other areas of your business.
Make a Striking First Impression
First and perhaps foremost, your website must be appealing. The internet is chock full of websites that just don’t make the cut here. Poor design will cause you to lose business – period. If your visitors don’t immediately bounce from your site because of its lack of quality, your competitors will see an opportunity to out-do you and up their game with eye-catching design and engaging content. You have one second – give or take – to grab your visitors’ attention. Once you have their attention, it’s another thing entirely to keep them engaged with information that is relevant and of particular value to them.
Keeping up with the latest design trends, is absolutely critical. Graphic and web designers often use mood boards as a great way to establish clarity on brand elements before jumping into the development process. Graphic and web design is more than just an art. Each are skilled crafts unto their own and when working together have the possibility to grab the attention of your online visitors, while affording you the opportunity to let them know who you are, what you have to offer and why they should be your loyal customers from this day forth.
Fortify Your Brand
It should go without saying that your brand strategy, identity and voice must be established before you build your website. Your brand strategy needs to be central in every aspect of your business, including: sales techniques, employee communications, marketing communications, customer service, product, service – and you guessed it, graphic and web design. If you design your website without your brand strategy and brand elements in place, you will inexorably have to start over from scratch at some point and pay twice the amount of money or invest twice the amount of time. Save yourself the headache. Do it once, do it right. Besides, once your brand strategy is in place and your brand elements have been established, it makes the web design process much more enjoyable, much easier to manage. Of course, it’s also important to remember that looks aren’t everything. It’s what’s inside that matters most.
Understanding how visitors use your site is intrinsically important in organizing content and functionality. The way information is organized and displayed on your site has the potential to get people to stay longer and purchase more products or services. The last thing you want are visitors fumbling through your website and leaving without having been able to find what they were looking for in the first place. The ultimate purpose of information architecture is to serve the needs of the user, while meeting the needs of the business. A reputable web design company will use wireframes to establish the structure and organization of content within the site. Essentially, wireframes are the blueprints of your site, indicating what type information will be found on each page.
By now, you should have your visual brand and company voice in order. Use it. Serve it up. Spread the love – all throughout the content on your site. Something to consider when writing web content: visitors will never read your website in its entirety. Websites aren’t read like books. Remember this – and use this knowledge to your advantage. Designing every page and all content to be award-worthy is great practice. It’s easy to spot content for contents’ sake. Provide your visitors with information that will inform and prove useful to them. If they come to rely upon you for industry insights, you are building trust and loyalty. That is a win-win. The continuous addition of important information to your website will not only support this concept, it will enhance your SEO (search engine optimization) as well.
Search engines are constantly looking to index new content. If your competitors are adding content and you’re not, guess who’s falling to the bottom of the list in terms of search engine relevance and importance? Launching a website is not like that 90s baseball movie, Field of Dreams. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. You will have to market your website if you want to remain competitive in this space. Content marketing and SEO – often used together – is a great way to market your online business. Both are specialized fields – neither should be ignored. If you’re not educated on these, hiring the experts could save you a great deal of time and money and more importantly, push you out in front of the competition.
Be Friendly - Mobile Friendly
Speaking of search engines and optimization, your website will need to be responsive – otherwise known as mobile friendly. Responsive design allows your website to be readable and clear on mobile devices: tablets, laptops, mobile phones, etc. Search engines today index websites that are designed for responsive viewing above those that are not, which means if your competitors have mobile friendly websites and you do not, the search engine serves up their content before it considers yours. Google reported more searches are conducted on mobile devices than desktop computers in 2015. Aside from that important tidbit, responsive design allows you to maintain your design quality and brand image. Most content management systems have built-in media queries with a basic layout for responsive design. However, it is important to test how your site looks on mobile devices before you go live. Chances are, some tweaking will be necessary.
If you are collecting any data from your customers, it’s a good idea to have an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate on your site. If you are collecting credit card or other sensitive information, it is imperative to have SSL encryption on your site. If you have SSL encryption a particular page of your website, a padlock will appear to the left of your URL at the top of the page letting your visitors know the information they are sending to you is safe. This, in addition to responsive design, gives your website more “points”, if you will, with search engines. Search engines rate legitimate and reputable companies higher than others.
The Right Company for Your Branding, Web Development and Marketing
Hiring a company to throw up a $500 web page for your business may be enticing given the price; however, it won’t serve you, your business or your customers. If you’re serious about your business, get serious about your website too. Developing a website that is up to snuff in terms of modern technology and best practices requires a serious amount of knowledge and a thorough understanding of how it all works together. Your website, if nothing else, is a sales representative for your company. You wouldn’t send your best sales guy out looking unkempt and unprofessional in a barbeque-stained tank top. The same should hold true for your website.
There are tons of web design companies that can build you a website that is in line with best practices and technologically brilliant. Unfortunately, a great deal of those web design companies are not in the branding space. If you decide to hire a company to build your website, be certain they understand the power of branding and how to make it work for you, your website and your business.
This article doesn’t come close to addressing all aspects of developing a website, but hopefully it provides you with a few benchmarks for when you decide to take the leap. For the best results, begin with a solid strategy created with your business and your customers’ needs in mind and stick with that strategy from beginning to end – just like anything else – and have fun along the way!
Ready to Start a Web Project? Give Us a Call!
Jungbauer Design Studio can help develop a useful and enjoyable interactive online experience for your visitors and employees. We've developed a simple, process-oriented workflow to keep your project on track to help you meet your objectives.
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Jungbauer Design Studio is a design, branding and marketing firm passionate about helping companies in the Chicagoland area establish differentiation in their market segments. Our brand process, integrated marketing communications, high-quality design work and outstanding project management skills offer a unique experience to companies looking to establish, or increase the quality of their brand, marketing tools and overall sales. This integrated model offers insight into the benefits of branding and marketing, a better understanding of the design process, a clear roadmap for cost and time expectations and a seamless process from the first consultative conversation to final execution. We aim to raise the bar in everything we do for our employees and for our clients. For more information, visit jungbauerstudio.com.