5 Must-Have Tips for Online Effectiveness
by Scott Brazdo, Nov. 2012
Building a great business website is not an easy task, even for the most seasoned veterans of the trade. The reason for this is there are so many moving pieces to a website. The design, functionality, colors, typeset, graphics, and many other factors are just a few reasons why so many people end up getting overwhelmed with their new project, and just abandon it all together.
A business colleague of mine, who was a former SWAT team member, spoke of the SWAT team’s training, and how the rookies would be sent through a maze-like building, with no briefing on what was going to happen once they busted through the front door. As soon as the front door would open, the rookies would begin getting barraged with paint balls from every direction, including from upstairs.
The unsuccessful rookies would simply freeze and be overwhelmed by the shear amount of paintballs coming at them. The ones that ended up finishing at the top of their class were the ones who entered through the front door, assessed the situation, and began shooting back, one target at a time. They knew they couldn’t take them all out at once, but if they began methodically attacking each target, they would survive the exercise with minimal damage.
The same can be said for building a website – many people will become overwhelmed at the amount of information out there and all the work that has to be done. However, if you start taking out one target at a time, you will finish with an easy-to-navigate, content-rich and powerful website.
1) Draw a Flowchart; Sketch the Blueprint for your Website
When building a website, it is important to think about what you want your potential customers to do when they visit it. Do you want them to call you, fill out a form, or purchase something on your e-commerce store? These questions have to be answered as you begin to map out what your new website will not only look like, but how it will function. Draw a flowchart and map out where each page will link, and where you would ultimately want your potential client to go once they visit your site.
2) Functions Flawlessly on All Devices
With tablet and smart phone usage being at an all-time high – and growing daily – it is overly important that your business have a web presence that gives consumers the same experience on their desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone, PC or Mac. Some businesses should have a completely separate mobile website so that users on tablets or smart phones will have a custom experience that is optimized for mobile usage. However, not all businesses need a separate mobile website, so simply create one that works on all platforms identically.
3) Easy to Use Navigation
This sounds like such a rudimentary principle, but it is one that is overlooked daily on national brands’ websites – they must be easy to navigate. Period. If users have to dig and search your site to find what they’re looking for, they are going to bounce off your site and right onto your competitor’s to more easily find what they are looking for.
4) Search Engine-Friendly
I’m often asked about Search Engine Optimization (SEO); the most common thing business owners ask us to do is to simply “improve their SEO on their current website.” While there are definitely things you can do to improve optimization on a current site, the ideal and long-term strategy is to bake all of the proper search engine optimization techniques into your new website from the very start. You must build a site thinking about metatags, headers, keywords in content, page titles, blogs, and much more.
5) Test Early, Test Often
A/B testing your new website with test users is a critical part of the design process. Discovering what users find easier, more appealing, and more useful is truly precious information when building your new website. Even if you just sample two or three clients, it is better than none. Get opinions, give options, and make your new site the best that it can be.
These five basic principles serve as a great starting point for you to plan your businesses’ new website. Start with one or two of these tips and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to creating a successful hub for your business online.
Scott Brazdo is the CEO and co-founder of Viera-based Black Tie Digital Marketing. Find out more at BlackTieDigital.com