So, here’s the deal. You can create a website, but is it a quality website? You can create a website with a bunch of information loaded with industry speak that visitors don’t understand, lacks in visitor interaction, and that only focuses on what you believe people want to hear, but that will probably help your bounce rate more than it does your conversion rate.
Bounce Rate – the percentage of visitors to a site who leave quickly, rather than explore the same website.
Conversion Rate – the percentage of visitors who convert into customers rather than just visit a website and leave.
When it comes to building a website, the root of all evil is thinking egocentrically and not keeping the visitor in mind. The main purpose of the website; to attract and convert visitors. This means meeting the needs of potential visitors through a useful, interactive and quality website. The following website tips will help you get on track for building a quality website.
Information Architecture (IA) Process
Your potential visitors need to see and feel the specific focus of your website that caters to their needs. The information architecture process is essentially the structuring of your website in a way that users can effectively find and interact with the information you have available; this means being “user friendly.” The structuring of the website includes defining the way pages will link to each other as well as specifying the actual position of information within the individual pages. For each type of visitor (ie: for colleges it would be prospective students, current students, parents, etc.) there should be a well-defined, and hopefully short path to each piece of information they may find helpful.
Optimal Web Content
Findable: Your web content affects your website performance in a number of ways, and one of the most important is the way in which it affects how you are found. For search engine optimization, you need to write copy that is both resourceful and uses key phrases effectively. Web pages should use key phrases throughout the web content, including titles and image descriptions. This approach informs search engines about the various subjects on your website. It is important not to overuse key phrases (this is known as “stuffing”) as this can cause a website to be “blacklisted” by search engines. This is just a chip off of the search engine optimization iceberg, but I could not have left out the subject when discussing web content.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – bettering the traffic to a website in terms of quantity and quality of visitors.
Key phrase – a phrase for which a website is attempting to be a result for in search engines.
Blacklist – in the context of this article, a blacklist is a list of web sites or web pages that have attempted to trick a search engine into believing they provide more information on a subject than they actually do. In response, search engine negatively weight their website in search results.
Understandable: In addition to being findable, your web content must also be understandable. When visitors land on your website, they want to know what you are about and how you can meet their needs. The last thing they want to do is have to go elsewhere and research unfamiliar acronyms and terms. Writing web content with the user in mind means avoiding the use of unfamiliar terms, acronyms or industry speak unless you provide a definition.
SEM, PHP, JSP, IMAP, XML, HTTP, SOAP, CPU, MVC, SEO, URL, SQL, AJAX, FTP, TCP. Even though these terms are second nature to me, it wouldn’t be nice of me to use any of them without providing some sort explanation… Be sure to have someone outside of your industry review your web copy in order to eliminate any such language.
It is always a good idea to match the quality of your images with the quality of your website and this usually means shooting new photos for a new site. Rather than just going out and taking random photos, it is a good idea to decide what pages the website will include and shoot photos for those pages. The photographer should also keep in mind how the images will be used on the website before taking them, because websites often call for landscape images and to avoid having narrow images when cropping them for the website.
If you are looking into building or redesigning your website, remember that this process will take a significant amount of time and usually ends up cutting into regular business tasks. Photography, writing the web content, as well as coding the website are best left to professionals. Professional web development firms go through the information architecture process and use professional copy writers, photographers, and programmers which is why I would recommend finding an expert and investing your time in what you do best – running your business!
Coding a website – the process of turning a design into a navigable and interactive website. There are many best practices that take years of experience to perfect. Template website are good for low/no budget projects, but the benefits of expert programmers will not be actualized.
Avoid Back Pedaling
Search engine optimization (SEO) and content management systems (CMS) are often left until the end of a web building project or forgotten about altogether. Rather than me re-explaining SEO, take a look at the SEO hand guide we made here are Ashworth Creative – I think it is quite good, but you be the judge! Finally, content management systems allow website owners to update and maintain their own websites through a simple interface. This keeps visitors coming back for the newest information – not just to attract and be a resource for one-time visitors. This makes your website more dynamic and interactive, which often yields better long term results for your company.
I hope this article was helpful – please take a second to leave me some feedback and let me know about you – maybe I can help!
What problems have you encountered when building a website?
Did you overcome these problems? If so, how?