There are a lot of great blogs out there that tackle what makes a good website, what website tricks to avoid and what new website trends are going to catapult to stardom. But there is one question that comes way before the rest, and that’s – why have a website in the first place?
This might seem a bit simple and you might be looking at your screen with a raised eyebrow, but the number of individuals and businesses out there that don’t use websites to their full potential, because they haven’t answered this question, is a lot higher than you think.
A website is firstly not a static window display or a tool that only serves 1 purpose.
What do I mean? Well, there are far too many websites out there that look great but are basically sitting pretty. They don’t fulfil what they’re supposed to do, because most websites aren’t there to just look good, they are created to achieve specific business goals. Websites are there to strengthen brand loyalty, increase audience interaction, raise your business profile, and for most organisations – help you make a decent living. A great website does all of these things at the drop of a hat.
It’s also easy to forget that window shopping has the word ‘shopping’ in it. If you don’t think about the mechanics of your website properly and just concentrate on the aesthetics, then people looking at your site will see a window and not a shop. They’ll see a pretty but pointless thing. What happens when your audience sees that your website doesn’t fulfil its purpose? Painful bounce rates that just keep on rising.
Keep a keen eye on those pesky bounce stats as your website moves along, it’s a great indicator for what is switching your audience off.
Want an example of what we mean? Let’s take our very own Bamboo website.
Our website is multi-functional and has several reasons for existing. We are a web design company, and so the first obvious way we use our site is to help potential customers find us, get in touch and work with us, so an online and interactive directory of sorts. But, we also use it as an searchable portfolio of our work, evolving proof that we know how to design as well as a place for industry discussion and helpful information (our blog).
All of these elements are interlinked throughout our site and allow people to contact us, to understand who we are and whether we might fit with what they are looking for. Not sure what we mean? Take a look around our website.
Alive and Kicking
Yes website act, in part, as a digital shop front and designing it well ensures that your brand and tone are on point for incoming website traffic. But your website is so much more than that. Your website should be geared to be an interactive and evolving platform which guides users right to call to action heaven.
A lot of people also create the cardinal website crime of not evolving it with the times and with user behaviour. They create fantastic looking websites, build in all the snazzy bells and whistles they need to generate traffic and convert customers, but then as soon as its live and uploaded they leave it alone, free to hover like an aimless digital cloud on the world wide web.
Your website needs to be honed and improved, much like a plant. It needs to be watered and pruned. For a website to grow a following or to nurture loyal customers it needs constant attention. The goal is to keep working on it, improving it and tailoring it more and more to the people that use it.
How do you ensure a website moves with the times and is in tune with your audience? Analytics and feedback are your best mates when it comes to listening to what your users want and ensuring your website achieves your business goals.
Track and analyse user behaviour. If I could put that phrase up in lights, I would. Track and analyse which pages are most popular, average page duration, which months your website is more popular, which time and day do you get the most hits and where do people tend to bounce off. All of this information is like sweet honey for marketing people because it’s basically free feedback and a call to arms to improve websites so that they run alongside customer behaviour.
If you take anything from this article, breathe these 5 golden tips in –
- Think about why you need a website in the first place
- Assess whether your website is meeting your goals
- Track users and what they are doing on your site.
- Understand how people use your website and evolve with them
- Push your website to interact with your audience
Do these 5 things consistently and your website will no longer feel like the forgotten toys in the back of your cupboard. Your website will be relevant again, will serve a specific purpose and reach far beyond your previous expectations.