An effective website is simply a website that fulfills it’s goals, but that is probably easier said than done!
So here are six tips to help you plan your website in accordance with your goals.
1. Define Your Website Goals!
First off, you can’t fulfill goals if you don’t have any. So many people start a website without giving any thought at all to what it should achieve. Getting a website isn’t a tick-box exercise – it can actually mean the difference between no sales and huge sales.
Some examples of website goals might be:
- Generate online sales
- Encourage prospects to contact you
- Create awareness of your brand, products, and services
- Create a mailing list to sign up interested prospects and use email marketing to sell to them
- Write and maintain a blog to generate traffic
- Give your users a way to interact with your service through an online app
- Provide an online portal to provide support to your customers
- Create an online community around your brand, product or service.
You might use one of the above goals, or maybe all of them – or you might think of something else – but the important point is that you need goals to be able to fashion the website to encourage the user to complete particular actions. When your goals are clear it means that every decision you make can be weighed on whether it will contribute to your goals or distract.
2. Beware of Distractions
One of the things we see time and time again with sites that we redevelop, is the presence of competing elements on the page. You can be so determined to sell your product that you end up flooding your pages with all kinds of links, headings and calls to action that actually only serve to distract or confuse the user, rather than ensure they take the action you wish them to.
When you create a page for your site, focus in on your sole intended goal for that page. Everything on the page should work cohesively to achieve it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have in-page links or lots of sections in a long page – if you do, just ensure that all those links are helping the user rather than overwhelming them.
3. Keep your navigation simple and logically organised
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your site looks if no-one can find what they’re looking for. Rather than have 20 links running across the top of your site, opt for fewer to avoid overwhelming your visitors (we recommend no more than 8). You can use sub menus where necessary to group related content together, and contextual links (hyperlinked text within your page body text) to link relevant pages together. Place frequently accessed content in your footer area such as contact information, latest blog posts or upcoming events so they’re always available.
4. Make sure your site works well on mobiles and tablets
Mobile users make up more of the web’s traffic than desktop users now, so it pays to ensure your site is optimised for mobile devices. This means using a responsive website design that adapts to different browser widths. A responsive website will often have a mobile device-specific menu system and will wrap page elements so they’re stacked rather than placed next to each other, removing the need for pinch zooming or dragging your finger around to see everything. It’s a good idea to a evaluate your site’s content and decide whether certain design elements are necessary to show on mobile devices. For example, a big banner slider might look great on desktop or tablet, but not be very useful on a mobile, so it might be good to hide it for phones. The same might go for pop-ups – they often don’t work too well on mobiles.
5. Ensure your site loads quickly
We’ve written another post on optimising your site’s loading times, so for the sake of brevity: try not to use too many plugins; make sure your host is fast and move onto another platform if it’s shared hosting; ensure images are resized before you upload to fit the area they’re intended for rather than allowing the site to dynamically resize them; don’t use too many large images on a page. Make mobile versions of pages load quicker by removing unecessary images or media files; minify your CSS and JS… The list goes on, but just be aware that site loading speed affects how quickly users leave your site. If you want to retain traffic, make your site load as quickly as possible.
6. Provide useful, original content that addresses your target audience’s pain points
It should go without saying that you should be producing original content for your site. Google doesn’t enjoy reading content twice and will penalise sites that appear to be plagiarising other sites. A good many sites don’t feature enough content amazingly – try and really think about what kind of information your site visitors will value, and create it for them. What are their pain points? What difficulties are they having? What are their problems, and how are you going to solve them? Think about the kinds of questions they would be asking and try to answer them. This will help your organic search engine ranking, as well as establishing your business as an authority on it’s subject, creating trust, loyalty and hopefully sales!