Nowadays, if a company does not have a website it means that they are at a serious disadvantage compared to their competitors. In an increasingly digitalised and highly connected world, having an online presence is absolutely essential for business success. A website goes hand in hand with a social media presence, however maintaining a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn profile is a lot easier than creating and maintaining a website – they are generally only supplementary profiles, aimed at redirecting visitors to the main website.
Websites should, therefore, be ready to receive traffic from a number of different sources – and different devices, as a lot of people access online content from mobile devices and tablets, as well as traditional desktops. The first few technical aspects of creating a website include purchasing a domain name, finding a suitable web host and signing up for an account (if it is not being managed in-house), and streamlining the site for usability purposes.
But what about after these first tentative steps online have been taken? Once a website has the foundations set, what are the bigger elements to concentrate on in order to make sure it is commercially successful?
1. Make it social media friendly.
As stated, being online is essential in the modern age, but this doesn’t only refer to having a website – it refers to having a social media presence as well. A website should make it easy for content to be shared across the social sites with small, clickable plug-ins for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. This will create unity across platforms, increase social shares and boost organic SEO for a business. The shareable content published on a website must be unique and engaging, include certain keywords relevant to the business or market and feature short, snappy headlines. It is also best to use vibrant images to entice visitors even more.
2. Make sure it is responsive.
Along with a highly connected world has come an array of different devices with which to access online content. Responsive web design refers to a website’s ability to adjust itself to different screen sizes, meaning it is still functional whether it’s being accessed on a phone, tablet or desktop. All these devices and different manufacturers have different screen sizes, meaning website developers have a tough job making sure that one website fits them all. However, a responsive website will reduce bounce rates, result in better SEO and is easier to maintain in the long-term as opposed to having a separate mobile template, which often takes longer to load.
3. Make it aesthetically pleasing.
Aesthetics influence almost every aspect of life, and the web is no different. Whilst some professionals may believe aesthetics only apply to a company logo or office design, they would be foolish to think it has no impact on a website’s success. Website design is essential; fundamentals like making sure it is compressed, light and has optimised images will mean it loads faster, but reducing white space and splitting bulky pages into multiple, shorter ones will also make the entire experience a lot cleaner for the visitor.
4. Make SEO a priority.
Every website should be built with SEO in mind. If a website isn’t search engine friendly, then commercial success will be very hard to come by. There are two ways to tackle SEO: on-page and off-page optimisation. Both must be taken seriously and complement each other. On-page optimisation includes creating a suitable URL structure for the benefit of the search engine and user; publishing relevant and unique content with suitable keywords; using a site map to make sure the website is free of glitches; and ensuring the internal link system between pages is smooth. Off-page optimisation includes gathering in-bound links from favourable external sites and creating a deep-link strategy.
5. Make it measurable.
Finally, in order to make a website commercially successful it must be measurable. The only way to check a website’s success – and to improve upon that success – is to track things like the number of visits and how many new sessions are opened up, as well as looking into traffic from different channels and measuring the number of conversions. Metrics like these will provide a valuable insight into where a website could be improved and where it is performing best. Set a few goals as a website launches, like ‘get customers to fill out the contact form’ or ‘gain more visitors’ and continually reassess the site.