Of all the communication mediums available to a business, it’s the website which has become the most invaluable. It’s the first port of call for anyone who wants to find out more about you and is, quite simply, the main portal to impart everything about you and what you offer. These days, if you don’t have a website, you’re really not even in the consideration set.
However, it’s surprising how many businesses bother going to the trouble of trying to set one up without following through on all the necessary bits and pieces that need to be completed in order for it to work most effectively.
Yes, we know it can be technical and therefore a little intimidating but getting it right the first time can save you a world of pain further down the track.
So below, we’ve created a checklist of ‘must do’s in order to not only minimise the challenges, but maximise its effectiveness.
Choosing the right platform
There is a myriad of different website development platforms out there, and an increasing number of ‘do it yourself’ options available. The idea of a DIY option may sound appealing if you really can’t afford to get a professional to do it for you, but for the layman, it can also be fraught with problems, and/or a long process of trial and error while you try and get it just right. Even Designers who may be well versed in building brand identities can struggle with the technicalities of the ‘building’ process, so you really need to talk to someone who knows their stuff before committing to an engagement that may be cheaper in the short term, but can have a negative impact on your brands long term position and growth.
Having said that, there are several ‘Content Management System’ (CMS) platforms, like the popular ‘Wordpress’, that a professional can set up for you, and then provide you with the ability to update simple things like passages of text or images to the site from your end, without having to go back to the pro’s every time you want to make an update and running up additional costs for simple updates.
Given the volume of differing devices that a website can be viewed, it’s now considered critical that the site developed is what’s called ‘responsive’, meaning that it will work seamlessly across any sized device, be it a desktop computer, a laptop, an iPad or a mobile phone. If it’s not designed to be responsive, there’ll be alignment issues, things out of frame or simply missing altogether – and while that’s obviously not a good look, it can also be quite damaging to your brands reputation.
Putting your best foot forward / Remain ‘On Brand’
As your main portal for the world, you really want to ensure that you look and sound as professional as possible, and just as importantly remain ‘on brand’. Most businesses should have a brand toolkit of ingredients, things like a colour palette, type or font choice and a direction for consistent imagery that all reflect the brands personality, so your website should reflect any other communications you may have out there.
Your brand ‘Tone of Voice’ which should also be part of your brand toolkit, needs to come across loud and clear throughout your website. Asking different people to write differing sections so the site isn’t a good idea for consistencies sake, as everyone will more than likely have a different take on how your brand should sound. Keeping passages of copy to a consistent, short but concise length is also a wise idea, as some people may not have the patience to read through large blocks of texts in an effort to understand what you’re all about.
The Power of Search
Setting up your website and not deploying any kind of search mechanisms through Google is like printing a brochure and keeping them in storage. People who may not have your website address need to be able to find you, and the ‘go to’ place to do that is through Google. Without registering your address and a suite of ‘key words’ that relate to you and your offering, you’re seriously limiting the chances of being found. This process is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and is critical to the success of driving traffic to the site.
Key words are essentially words that appear throughout your website text and that are also most likely to be to the words or phrases that someone would enter in to Google’s search engine in order to find what they’re looking for.
Plugging in all this information doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll immediately be at the top of Google’s search list, as it does take some to get the traction but, over time, the more people who search for you using those keywords, the greater your chances of being pushed up the list.
Of course there are a range of other mediums that you can deploy to help drive traffic to your site, whether it’s through the use of Social Media Channels, regular Electronic Direct Mail (EDM’s) out to your database, but at the most basic level, ensuring that your website address appears on every single piece of communication you put out there.
In short, the process and decision making around building a professional website that actually works for you, can be complex. There’s a fair bit to get your head around, but thankfully there’s people like us to help guide you through it all and ensure that whatever level of investment you’re prepared to make, that it’ll not only reflect your brand and what it stands for, but work as it was intended to!