Make a Better Website for 2020
Virtually every business needs a good website. A website is how people know about your business when you’re not around to tell them. It’s your biggest advertisement, the way most potential customers learn about what you have to offer, and what your current customers will use to keep informed. Today we’ll be talking about what makes a website good, and how yours can be improved for 2020 and beyond. But first, the basics.
What People See
The first thing people will notice about your site is what it looks like. But there’s more to it than just the image. There are many ways people compare websites, but one thing remains consistent – most of them will flock to the best one. For many customers, the website was their first impression of the business.
You want your website to look great, of course, but there are other factors in what will make it better than your competitors’. The feel and function of the site also come into play. A website might look nice, but if it’s difficult to navigate, or something feels off, then people will go elsewhere. After all, many people will have multiple sites open when they’re comparing services. It’s very easy to move on to the next business if they have no reason to stay on your website.
About Web Design
The purpose of web design, then, is to turn site visitors into your customers. Every visitor is a potential client, and in order to be effective, a website needs to keep those people connected. And the first step in drawing a potential customer in is the name. Much like your business’s name needs to be catchy and memorable, your website needs its own name.
Every website has a domain, which is basically their name on the internet. For example, our site’s name is https://www.chattanoogawebdesign.com/ This serves a number of purposes. First, it’s easy to remember. We’re Chattanooga Web Design because we design websites and we’re located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s simple and it works. And most importantly, someone searching Google or another search engine for web designers in Tennessee can easily find us. Generally speaking, your website’s domain name will be the same as your company’s name, only condensed into one word and with a .com at the end.
You also want your site to be neat and simple. Cluttered designs are a turn-off, and haven’t been popular since the 1990’s. People have short attention spans. If they don’t know what your business is about within a few seconds, they’ve already moved on mentally. Their eyes will gravitate toward what’s important to them. If they can’t find it, you might as well not even have it to offer.
That doesn’t mean your website should be black text on a white background (unless that’s your business’s design aesthetic, of course). You want images to draw the visitors’ eyes in. These pictures absolutely need to be high-quality, as our media is achieving higher levels of fidelity every day. After all, if someone were just watching a movie on a 4K TV, they might find a low resolution image to be off-putting and amateurish. You want a great image to be the first thing people see when they visit your website. You can make your own pictures, and there are also paid stock image sites, and even free ones that offer millions of files you can use. Pexels.com is a free option we recommend.
Modern web design utilizes a menu bar at the top. You don’t want to provide too many basic options, but you can have drop downs for various categories. Home is usually the first option, which will take a visitor back to the top from wherever else they are within the site. About can be everything you want potential customers to know. Information about the team, the company’s founders, the company’s history, and more are usually placed here.
A link for Services is where you really want visitors to place their pointers. This tells visitors what it is your company does. It can be a link to a separate page or provide another drop down, whichever is more appropriate for what you’re offering. Some companies like to have a Review link, where customers can talk about the goods and/or services your company provides. This can use real names or let users choose to be anonymous. Many websites also have a Blog. This can provide more detailed information about your industry, stories about your products or services, and any long form descriptions that wouldn’t fit on a product page. You’re reading one right now!
Finally, every website that utilizes a menu bar needs a link for Contact. This is how visitors become customers. Providing a place where they can send a message, an email, a phone call, or an address they can visit will allow them to come to you.
Additionally, you want things on your website that get customers asking you questions. A button that says “Request a Quote” is a great example of something on your site that allows you to answer a potential client’s number one question – “how much does it cost?”
With all that in mind, take another look at our homepage:
As you can see, the page is neat and orderly. A visitor’s eyes are immediately drawn to a beautiful high-resolution picture of the Market Street Bridge, a Chattanooga landmark. Our main services are floating over this picture with a shadow effect to make the letters distinct from the background without popping too much. There’s a button for requesting a quote, and another for reviews. The yellow and red buttons contrast with the blue of the picture, but aren’t too bright or jarring. When you look up, you see there are two bars at the top of the screen. A green one at the top with our contact information – almost like a handwritten letter – and another quote request button. Below that is a white bar (again, not too bright) with our eye-catching logo and a menu bar with links to the rest of the site.
This is just the top of the home page. As you scroll down, you’ll see a section that explains why visitors to the Chattanooga Web Design site should choose us to make their websites. A little further down and you’ll see pictures of our team. This helps with providing a sense of credibility, as it gives faces to the business. Reviews are also a great way to increase trust in a potential customer, as this comes from your other clients. A portfolio shows off projects and products you’ve done and made in the past as an example of what your business is capable of. Finally, we have two more sections for contacting us toward the end.
The Back End of a Website
The parts of the website that visitors see is called the front-end. There are many more things going on behind the scenes in the backend that site owners can take advantage of. Google Analytics is an invaluable tool for knowing how your visitors are finding your website. With it, you can track visitors and measure how far your marketing dollars are going. Finding out what people are searching for when they find your site can provide insight into where the marketing should be targeted. You can determine new ventures and phase out old ones with this information. And this is just the tip of the iceberg for Google Analytics.
Security is another thing that search engines look for. The internet can be a dangerous place for a website. Hacking is an ever-present problem, and DDoS (dedicated denial of service) attacks can take your site down and run up your server bills. A good site manager can take care of most of this for you.
Finally, you want a way to log in and easily update the website for the people who will be working on it. This way, when someone needs to make a change, it can be done quickly and efficiently.
How People Find YOUR Website
Most people will find your business’s site through by using a search engine like Google. However, the exact words they search for can mean a lead for you or for a competitor. A major industry in website management is search engine optimization, or SEO. In a nutshell, the words used on your site and in the site’s code will affect how search engines find it, and how they rank your site for those searches. Similarly, content marketing is how you get advertisements in front of the eyes of people who need your services. We have a more in-depth post on these topics coming soon.
Social media marketing is one of the major factors in online advertisement. Utilizing the right platforms and targeting the right demographics is key to success on the internet. Facebook and Twitter are examples of popular platforms with robust advertising tools, but there are many others.
As with everything in business and in life, though, go with what works. These are all suggestions and tools for optimizing your website’s use as a tool. If having more or fewer “Request a Quote” buttons works, then increase or decrease the number as needed. If visitors are finding your site through Twitter more than Facebook, dedicate more effort in advertising on Twitter. Diversification is important, of course, but sometimes it’s best to alter or cut off a strategy before investing too much into it.
Keeping Up With the Future
Web design, like all creative fields, is in a constant state of evolution. What works for a website now would not have worked a few years ago, and will probably be different a few years from now. Moving into 2020, there are many exciting technical and creative advancements just waiting to arrive on the scene, and you’ll need to be ready.
A web design expert is invaluable in keeping your site up with all of these factors. Whether you have one on staff or outsource the job, you need someone you can trust to ensure your business gets the most out of its website. It’s an investment, not an expense.
We’ll have another blog post soon with a more detailed examination of what makes a good website for a specialized industry. Stay tuned!