Owning a business or operating as a solopreneur requires you to be pulled in many directions. Often in this role, you are required to make fast decisions with little time to research or plan. This experience can be invigorating but may also impact your bottom line in some instances.
One of the decisions I have personally seen numerous businesses make fast, often uneducated decisions about is their website. They do not know the value of having a website, let alone good website-antiquated thinking perhaps, or maybe a lack of understanding of what it takes to create a good website.
So, I decided to interview a website designer and get to the bottom of it. Every business needs a website, whether you do it yourself or hire a website developer. Here are five tips for creating a high-quality website that converts.
First, what makes a good website?
Five prominent factors can be examined to understand what makes a website suitable. They include usability, user experience/user interface (UX/UI) design, easy-to-digest content, a clear call to action (CTA), and optimized to be found by search engines. Here is why.
Focus on Usability
It seems like common sense that a website must be usable. Many website DIYers may not be aware of the usability of a website is determined by how effectively, efficiently, and satisfactorily visitors can 'use' your website.
Good usability depends on whether your website is available, transparent, credible, learnable, and relevant to the people you intend to use. Many things are considered. For example, does the content provide value and offer resources?
Create Quality Content
A website's content must be easy to digest with a clear indication of how it helps the end-user. You can start by researching good content ideas and performing research to back your topics. There will most likely be an overlap of content on the innerwebs, so you must examine how you can come at it from a different angle and add to the conversation?
Creating quality content can also indicate where the end-user needs to go. You can start by explaining a problem and then telling users where they can get the solution. "Doing this requires an understanding of website design and user experience, no matter if you're trying to sell a product or inspire someone to contact you," Mike Werle, Owner of Werle Creative, said.
Navigate User Experience/User Interface Design
The process of focusing a deep understanding of users, emotional drivers, triggers, capability, and limitations is a part of user experience (UX) design. It is the science of understanding how a user feels about interactions on your website. User interface design (UI) typically refers to the machine-centered system for computers and other devices.
Effective website design considers these concepts during the procedure and affects its overall usability. "The result of not having UX/UI will directly affect your bounce rates. People will come to your site and leave within the first few seconds," Werle said. "If your site does not load within three seconds, an average of 40 percent of users leave your site instantly. These things can play a role in optimizing your website and your business' ability to grow."
Create a Clear Call to Action
One of the primary purposes of having a website is to inspire customers to act or do something. That CTA can look quite different depending on the business.
An eCommerce business would want to entice viewers to buy something.
Simultaneously, a restaurant might want to drive users to book a reservation or order takeout. "The CTA must be clear. It can be as simple as a well-placed button," Werle said. "The messaging of your landing page will give visitors the impression you are a trusted authority; this can help them decide to contact you."
Invest in Search Engine Optimization
You have likely heard of search engine optimization (SEO) but may not necessarily understand it. In its most basic form, SEO is how a website is optimized to match search engine criteria. “Optimization starts with great content. Copy and headlines that contain key words or phrases that you want to be known for (and people are searching for) will increase your search rankings,” Werle said. “Content should be the primary focus of SEO.”
Because of SEO, the backend of a website is just as—if not more—important than the design. "Optimization on the back end is how fast your website loads. The way scripts run your site relates to the way it is designed," Werle said. "Loading in the proper order, with an optimized site for mobile vs. desktop, all factor in how you rank with search engines."
If you are not already using images on your website, they are an essential part of SEO. "Images should relate to the content they are reading," Werle said. "Search engines read and rank the imagery for how well it is associated. [Other things SEO considers are] proper page structure, relevant keywords, meta descriptions, meta titles, backlinks, and content quality."
Now that you know what makes a good website let us spend some time talking about some frequently asked website design questions. These are questions I have heard a lot from prospective clients facing similar challenges.
Can I build a website myself?
The short answer is yes. But do you have the skillset, time, and patience to do so? If you are technically inclined, I say go for it! There has never been a more appropriate time than now to dive into the world of website design. There is one caveat IF you are technically inclined and have the time.
Most times, these two do not align, especially for small business owners or solopreneurs. Your time is money, and it is often hard to devote time to building a website that may not make you money right away. "Some website design can be done on their own, but most people need a professional to work with, especially with the search engine and back end optimization," Werle said. "Working with a professional will provide a better-finished product and produce results as far as business is concerned."
If you have decided to give it a go yourself, it might be a good idea to have a professional website designer review for accuracy. "At my company, we offer website audits to look at a variety of things," Werle said. "This provides a roadmap to help DIYers understand ways to improve and how to proceed."
Do I need a website if I have social media?
Again, Yes. Websites generate customer leads through search results and go beyond social media. "You are limited to what social media can offer," Werle said. "Not everyone can find your Facebook page. If you do not have a website, you're missing out on opportunities from search results."
Not to mention, using exclusively social media limits your business. "You can only partially control your messaging on social media. Local businesses, restaurants, and small businesses on Main Street should be using their social media as a driving force to go to their website to get more information," Werle said. "What's going to drive information to your customer is finding it on your website. It will bring you revenue by increasing your search results, local results, and generating leads."
If you are a restaurant, having a website helps you populate with search intent like 'restaurant near me,' something that would not happen if you only had social media. "You must have an optimized website, good SEO, and customer reviews per search engine standards to be able to show up with local searches," Werle said. "All these factors come together to tell people the best places to go to. That opportunity would be lost without a website."
"A website is not an end-all-be-all for every business but is a cornerstone as a sales and marketing tool for most businesses," Werle added.
How do I create a brand with my website?
Branding is an essential part of most businesses. Branding includes all things that help tell your business story, whether visually, auditory, or physically. "When it comes to branding on a website, people look at it as just the logo—yes, that is the most visual part of your brand, but your branding includes your imagery, colors, font, and content you present on your website."
Content is a critical aspect of your website. It provides information to educate your audience and search engines about your business. "How you write your content will tell a lot about your brand. Maybe it is written in more of a factual standpoint, or is light-hearted with some GIFs," Werle noted. "That's all going to play a part in your branding."
Do I need to update my website regularly?
Yes. The answer is always yes! You do not want your audience to get bored with your website, and new content helps boost rankings. "A website is not something to set and forget," Werle said. "New content or refreshing your existing content helps your website rank higher and boosts your credibility."
Mark Werle owns and operates Werle Creative, offering digital solutions, website design, brand design, SEO, and website marketing.
Do you have another question I may have missed? Please email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.