Building Your Brand on Your Website
Your website is often the “front door” for your business. It can be the first interaction with your brand that your customers have…and maybe their last one. More than half of website visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on your website – barely long enough to register the name of your company. This means communicating your brand quickly and clearly on your website is critical to growing your business.
What goes into a user’s decision to stick around and check out your website? Or, better yet, to make a purchase or ask for a quote? Successful websites deliver a combination of good design, interesting content and the right technology. These three issues create a three-legged stool for the success of your website.
From the technology side, it is very important that the website load quickly. A slow website will frustrate your visitors and they will move on rather than waiting. Slow loading times also can affect your rankings in Google search. The best websites, as ranked by Google positioning, will load in fewer than 14 seconds* and many load in fewer than 10 seconds. You can check your average page loading time in Google Webmaster Tools to see how your site is performing.
Think about how a slowly loading site reflects on your brand, leaving the user with the impression that your company is either not technologically savvy or just doesn’t care. This is doubly true if your company is tech-related in any way, even if you just sell tech.
Pretty vs. Functional
While an artistically gorgeous website can be a thing of beauty to behold, it is not always the ticket to a great user experience. Your website design can either make it easier for users to find what they need, or leave them frustrated. I typically recommend the “less is more” approach when it comes to website design. I believe clean, simple and elegant styling is easier to navigate. Placing menus, search bars, a call to action or your logo in the right spot helps the user find what they are looking for more easily. For example, on virtually every website you will find the logo on the upper left. If you click that logo, it will generally take you to the home page. Users know this and they have come to expect it. Don’t make them work for it, or they’ll leave you.
Your website’s design should reflect your overall brand.Incorporate the colors and fonts of your logo and existing marketing materials and use them throughout the website. From start to finish everything should have a consistent and clean look, from the site to the invoices you send your clients — this will reinforce that image each time your customer encounters the brand. Repetition is good; variation is evil.
When you design your website, be sure to make it very easy for your customer to place an order or contact you for information, depending upon your goals. A well-placed form on every page makes it easier for users and helps to drive more business. Remember, the goal of your website is to sell, not just to look pretty. Driving more business is achieved by making it easy for users to get what they came for, and by making it easy for them to buy.
Say What Your Customer Wants to Hear
Good, relevant content is the third leg of the marketing stool for your website. The user is looking for something when he or she comes to your website. If you figure out what that is and make it easy to find on the home page, you will improve your sales or goal conversions. Having a blog on your website helps you provide newsy, interesting information your customers will appreciate and Google will value in its rankings. The key word here is “relevant.” The information should be relevant for the user (not you) and related to what they are searching for.
When you are putting your content together, be sure to continue the tone of voice that you use in your other marketing materials. Be genuine and sincere, don’t try to pretend to be something your customers won’t recognize when they actually do business with your company. For example, don’t write copy filled with hip slang and obscure references if you are a conservative, professional firm. It will not come across as realistic to your customers and could even turn them off. Make your words mirror your business.
Headlines should move the user through the copy and describe what information is contained on the page. This is important not just for the website visitor, but also for Google, which uses headlines to determine what your website is about.
You Get What You Pay For
Above all, make sure your website looks professional and reflects the value of your business and your brand. Since it is your front door in many ways, it should attract customers and invite them in. If you do not have the skills or experience to create your own website, I always recommend making the investment to hire a professional web developer. It will be well worth the money to get an end result that will actually help you grow your business with a website that is attractive, professional, functional and provides a great user experience.
* Data from SEOchat.com