What makes a good website?

Have you decided that your business needs a website? Or is your present website not giving you the results you want? Either way, trying to make the right choice can be very daunting.

A good website is one that performs for your business. It generates leads, gets new customers, gives you positive exposure. It should give you a return on your investment. It builds your business.

But how do you know the website you choose can give you the results you want? You can better understand what you can get for your money with a basic knowledge of how websites work.

There are many parts to good web design that should be fundamental to all websites. Unfortunately because the industry is not regulated, there are no checks or standards in place.

This means you can easily end up with a website that’s just a web page. It generates no leads. It gets no new customers. It’s a bad investment for your business.

Many businesses make the wrong choices and end up starting over again with a different designer.

There are things you need to know and look for before investing your  hard-earned money. You don’t want to have regrets when it’s too late. With a little research you can get it right the first time.

A good website is an effective sales tool

Image of the customer conversion process, attract, convert, retain

For most small businesses your website is a key marketing tool. It should be designed as a compelling sales tool. Converting prospective clients into customers.

It’s marketing your business 24/7.

Information about your product or service not only reaches existing customers. It also reaches people who didn’t even know you existed. They may only have previously known about your competitors.

Your website needs to compel people to want to know more about how you can help them. You need to understand their problem or need. Be an authority on your subject and have the solution.

A website’s job is to take each type of potential customer and win over any hesitancy. Convince them that you are the right business to go through.

It needs to highlight your product’s advantages. And convert a visitor into a paying customer. You should be able to see the benefits to your business and a good return on your investment (ROI).

Many websites emphasise graphic design without understanding it’s about marketing. It’s an investment for your business for which you expect a return.

Looks alone do not make a successful website

Many people will judge a website on its looks. That’s reasonable if you don’t have an understanding of how websites need to perform to get great results.

Glossy pictures alone will rarely sell a product or service. Unless, of course, the customer has already decided to buy. Pictures should be there to back up the content. Quality content should convert a visitor into a customer. Or at least a potential future customer.

Your website needs to follow the psychology of consumer behaviour. Sounds heavy but this is the world of marketing.

You need to second-guess why a potential customer may not purchase from you. You need to convince them that you have the better solution. Your site needs to sell the advantages and benefits of your product or service.

Don’t be caught out by a budget design

Some website companies offer basic packages at low cost. Extra features are offered at additional expense. You may think you don’t need these features. In fact they are essential to good web design and to getting a return for your money.

Many businesses buy a basic package. When their website fails to perform, they realise many extras are in fact essential. They then look for a different designer and start all over again.

Far better to get it right in the first place and realise that a bigger investment will get you a better return.

A good designer will walk you through what you need to have in place to get the return you expect. There should be no hidden costs or surprises.

How can you expect your website to be found and sell if:

  • There is very little content.
  • It talks about you, but not what you can do for a customer.
  • It reads similarly to your competitors, who have also been in business for x years and are also passionate about what they do.
  • You’re relying on a few large photos to sell your product and get the advantage over your competitors.
  • Nobody has asked about your business, its strengths and weaknesses, your competitors, your customer profile.
  • No research has been done on how people are searching for your products and what competition there is.
  • There are no pages specifically targeting the different ways customers are searching for your product or service.
  • There are unnecessary and distracting graphics leading the eye away from your marketing message.
  • The technical background work is not in place to conform to search engines guidelines.
  • The site’s performance is not tracked, so you don’t know how well it’s performing. Or it is tracked but nothing is done with the results to make improvements.
  • Nobody has explained that your site is not ‘set and forget’. That it needs regular updates to keep both customers and the search engines interested.
  • Nobody has explained if or how a blog, social media, or newsletter can boost your sales.

If the above is not being considered, your website is not being tailored to your business. That’s a sure sign that it’s not a marketing tool, but an exercise in either graphics or technology.

It is not going to give you the best return for your investment.

Other Design Essentials

Even with the above in place, your website needs other essentials to work well as a marketing tool.

Things like:

  • Can a customer immediately tell what your business does and what you sell? If not, they will hit the back button and go elsewhere.
  • Is it confusing when you start to look around the site? Is there a logical journey from beginning to end?
  • Is the layout clear without any distractions from your selling point?
  • Are there clear calls to action (to make a sale) at the right places in the sales cycle?
  • Is it easy to see the path to making a purchase? People won’t waste time looking around for ways to make a purchase.
  • Does it guide them through their hesitancy to purchasing?
  • Is the website easy to navigate?
  • Does the use of colour help guide the visitor to making a decision, or is it a distraction?
  • Does it have images that support content not dominate it?

Next time you decide not to purchase from a website, or leave one shortly after arriving, have a look at what might have put you off. There’s a good chance that the site has missed some of the essential elements of a good web design.

Technical considerations

During the design phase of your website, take your time and consider the following:

  • Can you easily update content? Do you need to be technical? Is there a fee?
  • Does the website work on all devices?
  • Did you get to view it on a mobile or iPad?
  • Does it scale down nicely while still being easy to navigate?
  • Do the pages load instantly? People won’t hang around waiting.
  • Is it search engine friendly? Will Google be able to find you?
  • Did your designer explain the importance of backlinks?
  • Is the site set up for blogging and social media?

Technology is forever changing. It’s important that web developers stay up to date with the industry. The technology behind your website should be changing accordingly.

A great looking website is of no use if the search engines can’t find you

Search engines, such as Google and Bing, publish guidelines to maximise web visibility. This ensures your customers can find you.

They include:

  • internal structure of web pages
  • web crawling
  • compatibility across browsers
  • speed
  • quality and type of content
  • links to and from the site
  • avoiding practices that hurt your search engine visibility
  • …….and more

Many websites fail to follow these basic guidelines. Some web designers use banned techniques to get short term gains. This can result in your website being penalised.

It’s an ongoing process

The cycle of continuous improvement for your website. Analyse rankings, SEO, links and traffic.

The work shouldn’t stop when your website is up and running. Website technology allows for analysis and monitoring. It can look at how well, or otherwise, your site is doing its job. But, this is often overlooked.

A website may not be performing well but with careful analysis you can see why. Most importantly, changes can then be made leading to further increased reach and sales.

Content needs to be kept up-to-date and fresh. A great way of doing this is to write a regular blog. You may not have the staff or time to write your ongoing content. In this case, consider contracting that part out to a copywriter.

A good copywriter can write well about any subject. Web copy-writers write in a style suitable for the internet. It’s very different than writing for print media.

At Backbone Web Designs, we can help with your web page content and your blog writing.

Hopefully you now have a better idea of what makes a good website

We’ve given you an insight into what makes a good website. A good web designer will be familiar with everything you need to know.

Most people haven’t got time to become involved in the detailed aspects of web design. The best way of ensuring you get a good website, is by having a good web designer.

We can guide you through choosing the right website for your business.

We can help you set up and maintain a website that is effective in helping your business grow.

If you would like to know more, make sure to regularly check our blogs. Or you can contact us to have a chat. We are here to help and make things easier for you.