Our top ten tips for a successful website – from commission to launch!

A new website is an investment of your money and time, so you want to make sure it looks exactly as you hoped AND that it works hard for your business. We occasionally have clients who approach us because they’ve gone through the web design process with a company or freelance web designer and the result has been a huge disappointment. It’s frustrating for us, because with a little guidance, it’s totally avoidable.  There is a lot to think about, but if you approach the project with a clear objective and follow our step-by-step process, you’ll get the right website first time.

That’s why for this month’s blog, we’re going to share our ten top tips for a successful website. The different thought processes you need to go through, information to gather and assets to have on hand so that the result is a success. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look.

1. Think about why you’re getting a website

There are lots of reasons why people decide to get a website and one of the most common is they might want to generate sales online – we saw a lot of this during the pandemic – people who used to sell facet-face who pivoted to online sales. But other people use a website as a lead magnet, to get customers to start talking to them about their services, others use theirs to build the credibility of their brand, boosting brand trust. The reason why it’s important to identify why you’re getting a website is because the answer will dictate the type of website you need, the content you have on it and help you with point number two…

2. Get clear on your target customers

This is a bit of an overall marketing lesson, not just related to website design! It’s worth considering who your target audience is and what you want them to do when they visit your website. Are they busy families looking for a dog daycare and walking service? Or sole traders and small businesses looking for marketing services? By taking an hour and putting down on paper who your customers are, why they’re searching for a business like yours (these are called ‘pain points’, the problems they need to solve), you can get a steer on your branding and the information you need to have on your homepage. The branding needs to be linked to the business and resonate with the target audience, and the content should be speaking to their pain points and show how you can help them. More on that a little later…

3. Choose professional branding and photography

Images are a key element of your website, as they leave an immediate impression on people. There are studies which show that a human brain processes images around 60,000 times faster than text, and that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual! So, put simply, the images you choose will have a big impression and can support your branding and boost visitor trust. Avoid stock imagery if you can, as that’s going to jar – we’re all getting used to seeing it! And then there’s branding!

Branding can encompass a lot of things, but in this case, we’re simply talking about a logo, colour scheme and fonts. The reason why this is so important is because branding is one of the first things people will notice when they land on your website. If you are getting a website to boost brand trust, you need to have the same logo and colour scheme appearing on your website, social media channels, business cards and so on. We can do an amazing job with the website build, but without professional branding it won’t look the way you might expect.

4. Make it easy to browse

When you’ve ticked off the staged above, sit down and work out what pages you want on your website. That will depend on what you want the website to do – an online shop will have more pages than a basic information site – and the minimum we recommend is:

  • Homepage
  • About
  • Services
  • Blog
  • Contact

You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find their way around, as you have only a few seconds to grab someone’s attention. If they have to search too hard for the information they want, they are likely to give up and go elsewhere. Think about how people will find their way around the website and place calls to action (CTAs) – buttons/links to other pages – to guide the reader around. For example, placing a CTA on your homepage after the opening copy (so when the visitor knows what your business does and who for) if they want more information on your products or services.

5. Don’t forget the copy

When we talk about ‘copy’ we’re referring to the headings, subheadings and words that will appear on each page of the website. Whether you’re building your website yourself or having a company like ours build it for you, you will need to provide the copy. It’s worth spending time getting the web copy right, as it’s your chance to tell the website visitors what your business does, who you do it for and why you’re different. Make sure you bear in mind who your ideas customers are and speak in their language. That means not using jargon they won’t understand and talking about the benefits of working with you – how your products and services make their life better!

6.. Make sure it looks good everywhere

You can expect around 50% of the people who visit your website to view it on a mobile device, so a smartphone or tablet. The others will be on laptops, PCs and Macs, but it’s no surprise that mobile browsing is accounting for more and more web traffic. That means it’s essential that it’s responsive and works properly on all devices. If the menus don’t work or CTA buttons don’t display on a mobile, you’re losing 50% of visitors straight away.

7. Make sure it loads quickly

How long will you wait for a web page to load before you give up and head to a different website? There have been lots of different studies with one concluding that 8% of people will give up after just one second, and 20% of people have left if it takes more than two or three seconds! Whatever the exact number, the key takeaway is that you don’t want your website to be slow to load. There are several factors that can impact the load time, including having large images or videos on the homepage, too many plugins and bad website hosting. At Black Nova we offer a site speed audit which is ideal if your website is somewhat sluggish and will identify what’s causing the slowdown.

8. Share it everywhere

Once your website it launched, you can just sit back and wait for the enquiries and sales to come rolling in – right? Sadly, that’s not likely to be the case! The best way to make sure people find your website is to proactively share it everywhere. That means posting on social media with links to the website, putting the URL in your email signature and even sending out an email newsletter. Anything you can do to ensure more people know your website exists! If you go to in person networking events, make sure you take business cards with the website address on them – or have a QR code made up and put that on your business card, so all someone needs to do it scan it!            

9. Don’t neglect SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, the practice of making changes to your website so that it ranks higher in search engine results pages (such as Google) when people search for businesses like yours. In brief, you need to identify keywords and phrases which relate to your products and services (e.g., dog walker in Bristol) and then ensure those words and phrases are used in your website copy. Refreshing content regularly, so by uploading a blog once or twice a month, adding new testimonials and tweaking page content occasionally, helps boost SEO results. You can also aim to build backlinks, which are links to your website from other sites, with paid for or free directories, guest blogs, advertorial content and more.

10. Take care of your website

Your website will need a small amount of ongoing maintenance to ensure it stays in tip top shape. That includes technical tasks like updating plugins and templates to ensure the website looks and functions properly and is secure. It also means making sure you update company information too – staff profiles need to be kept up to date, if you have a blog, make sure it’s refreshed and definitely check the basics are right – that means it has your current telephone number, address and email contacts.   

Here at Black Nova Designs we can help you with a brand-new website refresh your existing site, make sure the hosting is fast and secure AND awe even offer monthly SEO and maintenance packages. That means you can have the website of your dreams and not have to worry that it’s performing properly – we can take care of it all. Book in for a call to discuss your business and what a Black Nova Designs website can do for you.