I asked our Hive of copywriters, designers, photographers and marketers their top tips for a successful website. Here’s what they had to say…
Ask a builder what makes a good house and he might say ‘a solid foundation’. Ask a painter and they might say ‘a fresh lick of paint’. The buyer sees the wider picture – they focus on the experience when it all comes together and the feeling it gives them. It’s not any different when building a website.
So it’s no surprise to me that when I asked the Big Bee Hive – our collective of 30+ trusted creatives from different realms – they all had different perspectives on what makes a successful website. Pull them all together and you have all the insight you need to build a compelling site that supports your customers in their goals. So, what are their building blocks?
Media consultant Val Proctor highlights the importance of three areas:
1. Eye-catching design
2. Interactive elements
3. Ease of navigation
A combination of these three elements makes for a website that delights, excites and entertains the customers and helps them to get where they want to go. Including interactive (dynamic) elements – like when links change as you hover over them – creates a tactile environment for the user to play in – and we all like to play, don’t we?!
4. Iconography and imagery
Graphic designer Serena Manda also shines the spotlight on design elements, this time iconography and imagery:
“Make sure your website is not too wordy. Use text broken up into small sections, interspersed with images or icons to make it easily readable.”
Icons can be a useful replacement or supplement to copy, providing a clear visual indication of what services you offer, or what actions to take. Just make sure to add the alt text to ensure icons can be understood by people using screen readers.
5. Clear and concise information
Copywriter Nicole Johnston adds that where there is copy, it should be concise, clear, written with personality and with language that assists, rather than pushes the customer to purchase. No-one likes to feel coerced into spending money, so dial back the in-your-face sales speak. And if your copy sounds robotic, don’t expect a human to respond.
7. Restraint in your content
8. Clear call to actions
9. Testing with target audience
Digital Marketer Lucy Pickering reminds us to first have a clear focus for the website and use clear calls to action to guide the user to do what you want them to do. Don’t be afraid to use multiple calls to action if they’ll help the customer to proceed in different ways. Take a look at Hotjar’s site below. It uses four call to actions, three of which offer different paths for prospective clients to sign up and one for existing customers.
Lucy agrees with Nicole’s advice to be concise, adding that this relates to more than just the copy:
“Be ruthless and only include what needs to be there to help the user complete those actions – this applies to copy, design and information architecture.”
Making assumptions when building a website can cost you, so test website changes with your target users. “A fresh pair of eyes always reveals wonders.”
10. Supported objectives
Photographer Jeff Horne reminds us to remember what you want your customers to achieve and help them to easily act on that intent:
“What do you want the customer to do as a result of visiting your website?
“If you want the client to get to know you as a person, make sure you appear on the site and you actually talk about yourself.
“You’d be amazed how many ‘about me’ pages I see where the first thing said is along the line of ‘I hate having my photo taken so here’s a photo of my cat’. You simply have to get over it – if you want people to learn about you, you have to be out there.”
11. Easy to find contact details
Social media marketer Michelle Betts reminds you to ensure your contact details are as easy to access as possible.
“I always want to be able to find a phone number or contact email quickly. It’s also good to have social media icons that correctly link out (in a new tab) near the top of a site.”
12. Consideration for user experience
Designer Sarah Wilkinson agrees. She says that, as well as creating a visually appealing website, you should put yourself in the shoes of the customer:
“User experience is a big one. Being able to get to where you need to in as few clicks as possible is really important to me, especially for contact details as that’s often something you need to find quickly.”
13. Something unique to set it apart
For brand marketer Denise Brady, a website should stand out on its own, while acting as part of a unified marketing thread.
Think of some of your favourite websites. Are they just like all the rest, or is there something that makes them unique? Consider what could make your website stand out. I really like this graphic designer’s website which builds intrigue by only showcasing her graphics on the homepage with no words, until you click on an image.
14. Clear purpose
Copywriter Fiona Philips reminds us to get the basics right first:
“Say what you do on your home page. I see so many websites that try to be clever and funny, but you have to search through to find what they do, and where to buy it.”
15. Demonstration of expertise
16. Good SEO
For copywriter Emma Nassuada Ayres, nothing beats the benefits of blog content for building awareness:
“Content really is king for improving your SEO and getting your website seen. Working on your SEO now will help you build brand awareness without necessarily having to invest in online marketing.
“If you can, have a blog on your website, or at the very least, use Medium or LinkedIn to publish thoughtful articles relevant to your industry. And, if you’re using a third-party site for publishing, remember to link back to your website every single time.”
So, after reading the Hive’s advice – have you got your house in order?
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