- Having a good website is no longer a luxury or additional bonus. Having a website is nowadays a simple necessity for brands that want to provide value for their visitors.
- You need to keep in mind that users appreciate being able to find all of the necessary information such as contacting you as easily as possible.
- So before you jump onto concentrating on good design only, make sure your website is created firs of all with your users and their experience as a priority.
It seems like just yesterday that businesses were experimenting with their websites – taking them from a static brochure to a little something flashier. Business owners were advised by web designers and business coaches on their websites – what to include, how they should be structured and so forth. However, in 2018 a website does not stand alone as a marketing and operational tool anymore. Now your website forms part of a business’ entire digital interaction model, which is completely individual and tailored to each business depending on their business objectives.
Also, the days of web designers creating your website’s style, tone and functionality are over.
Web designers will simply follow instructions laid out for them in the strategy document, rather than using their own formula to create your website. This explains why so many web designers are employed by design interaction consultancies, rather than freelancing. Forming part of the team that is creating the entire user strategy helps designers to fully understand the concept and ensures that their contribution is beneficial.
Basic Necessities of Your Website
The inclusions of your website depend very much on your business model and the industry you are involved in. For example, if you are a retail store and operate purely online, your website will be made up of very different elements to the website of a local Italian restaurant. Why? Well, clearly these two websites have different purposes. The former is to sell items and the latter is to provide information like the address of the restaurant, opening hours, and the menu.
Regardless of the business’ purpose, a website is there for users. Users could be:
- the general public,
- customers of the business,
- prospective customers, or
- a mixture of all of these.
So, when creating your website, you would need to consider your users and why they might visit your website. This will give you a clue about what to include. They may need more details about how to find your physical location, or they may wish to contact you to ask a question or submit a complaint. Therefore, ways to contact you should be included.
The absolute basics of any website, regardless of function, could include the following:
- Name and address of the business, and name of the contact person,
- Contact details (perhaps an enquiry form, a phone number or the address of the locality),
- Links to the social media accounts of the business for more information,
- If the intention of the website is to attract traffic for greater visibility on Google search pages, the website may include a blog for fresh content,
- If the business has links and partnerships with other organisations, you may include these too.
What Else Should Your Website Have?
After the primary list of inclusions, a secondary list of inclusions may be more detailed and in-depth. These will be dependent on creating a positive user experience, as well as other non-website strategies already in place. The above exercise will help you to determine your website users, which is integral, and your research will show you what exactly they respond to when engaging in an experience.
The website that is created will take these elements into consideration, rather than simply guessing how your visitors will respond to an over-enthusiastic Chat Bot asking them what they need to purchase, for example. Whether or not the business thinks having a Chat Bot on their website makes them look progressive is irrelevant. If your users feel annoyed by a Chat Bot, your website won’t have one.
The types of considerations at this point may be as follows:
- Will users visit your website before or after an interaction/purchase with your business?
- How are your users more likely to request an interaction with you – will it be online or offline?
- How often will your users visit your website? Will they come back for news, or are they more likely to follow your social media accounts?
- Are my users easily threatened or overwhelmed? Are they time-poor?
Ultimately, the question always reverts back to why people are visiting your website and what they hope to achieve whilst they are there. Some businesses simply use their website as a business card (e.g. lawyers, to back up their reputation), whereas other businesses are their website, like Amazon.
The single biggest piece of advice is to talk to your users and understand what they need from your site. That will give you the surest guidance on what to prioritise. Then test your ideas with users to see if your interpretation of their needs was right or wrong.
The look and feel of a website is also very important, and should be consistent with your brand. This would involve ensuring the logo is accurate, as well as any messaging. If you are the face of your business, make sure your website presents that and portrays your image as well as some information about your background.
Ultimately, it is difficult to create a standalone piece on effective websites as they are not stand-alone anymore.
Websites attract users, they engage users, they interact with users and they provide users with a gateway to your business. They are only part of a larger strategy, however, because users all come from somewhere and are going somewhere before and after engaging with your website.
Your strategy will determine the other pieces of the puzzle and ensure that your business keeps track of them during this entire process to enable greater engagement overall.
Websites that I like are the below for these reasons:
Air BnB as it is a frictionless experience that allows people to engage immediately with the platform even if they’re just dreaming about a holiday. It’s very responsive to the needs of people who interact with it. The site designers gathered feedback from users who said they felt more confident to book when they saw high quality images of houses, so Air BnB sent out professional photographers to their hosts to present the properties better.
Mailchimp is an outstanding example as they have not only a consistent and easy to use service, but also a cohesive look and feel, voice and tone and complete guidelines for interaction design. This considered approach means that people can engage with the brand on any digital channel and feel like they immediately know it’s Mailchimp.