▼ ❑ Website
Your website is your home base on the Internet. This is where 80 to 90% of your energy should be expended from designing a branded site that conveys your company image to creating new content that explains your business to existing and new customers. Prospects should be able to get the majority of their answers through your site and only need to contact you because they have no more questions other than how to pay you and when you can get started. Even this can be added to the website allowing them to sign up and pay for your service without even having to contact you prior. Existing customers should be able to get all of their support questions answered with the website and only contact you when a truly unique issue has occurred. The website should use best practices as outlined by the standards working groups and key providers such as Google and Facebook. This includes multiple screen size support allowing anyone on any size device a pleasant experience on your site resulting in more business. Loading times of the site should be unnoticeable by the user which means faster than 5 seconds. The website is also a two way communications tool. Users should be able to talk to you directly via the website.
▼ ❑ Design
Website design should follow the architectural principle of form following function. Websites are not imitations of printed marketing brochures. Websites are hypertext based documents capable of linking to multiple pages allowing users to find relevant content in an intuitive manner. Design should convey Branding principles of an organization and give users a consistent experience with how they will interact with any other aspects of your organization. This includes logos, font types, color themes, language, images, and
The layout of a page should be dictated by the content the page is going to display. Unnecessary design elements should be avoided to prevent user confusion from occurring. Unless you are an entertainment company users are not there to be entertained they are there because they have a need and are trying to determine if your organization can fulfill that need.
• ❑ Homepage
The homepage should direct users to where they need to go on your site based on their current need. Prospective users should be directed to information about your products and services. Existing users should be directed to resources and support materials. Journalists should be directed to PR content. There is a tendency to throw everything available on the homepage to mitigate having missed something. Considering the two most popular website online are Google and Facebook and both their home pages have very minimal content and options.
• ❑ SubPages
All pages besides the homepage fall into this category. The design of these pages is generally the most overlooked but contain the most to gain. The reason for this is that the majority of search engine traffic for any site with a ggod amount of content goes directly to a subpage. It is critical that subpages get broken down into categories based on user need. Product pages should be focused on answering questions and leading to sales. Support pages should be focused on answering questions and leading to renewals or referrals. News pages should be focused on providing content and leading to sharing. PR pages should be focused on providing basic information and leading to contact for interviews.
• ❑ Responsive
In the past web design was dictated and restrained by browser type. Today web design is dictated by device screen size. Users are coming to your website from their desktop/laptops, phones, tablets, and soon glasses and watches. You can choose to design a separate website for each type of device and then create new websites as new devices crop up and alternative screen sizes hit the market, therefore multiplying your design efforts by a significant factor, or you can adopt a responsive design approach where your website responds to the size of the screen currently viewing it and adjusts appropriately for ease of use and functionality. Also understand that Google is considering how your site appears for mobile users and adjusts its search rankings accordingly.
▶ ❑ Standards
The Internet and World Wide Web were created by very smart people who took into consideration a variety of users, uses, and functions. They created a number of standards for design and development that if followed will maximize the functionality of your website for all users. Following these standards may not allow you to have the latest design trend but it will allow you to have the most customers.
• ❑ Speed
We all have short attention spans and they are only getting shorter. Your website needs to load quickly for a variety or devices and connection speeds. Consider that users on mobile phones are making up a more and more significant portion of your overall traffic and they are doing this from the mobile networks. Your site might load fast on a Fiber connection but horribly from a mobile phone. Now consider that mobile searchers generally have buying intent and reconsider how quickly your site loads. Also understand that Google measures your site load time and uses that information when considering who to rank higher.
▼ ❑ Content
When thinking of the function of your website content should be your primary concern. This is what people have come to your website for so you should have put some substantial consideration into your content.
▶ ❑ Contact
A website is a two way communications device. Users can consume content you have created but they can also ask you questions directly by calling, emailing, chatting, or finding directions.
▶ ❑ Sales
This is your best salesperson on their best day giving the most succinct sales pitch ever.
▼ ❑ Support
Existing customers are going to have questions its just the nature of the game. The more you give them either in pre formatted answers like the FAQ and Resources or in contact avenues like Forums, Chat, and Email the more likely they will stay paying and happy customers.
• ❑ FAQ
This is a list of your most commonly asked questions. Break them up into categories by product and service. Keep track of new questions via forums, chat, and email and add them to this list regularly. Review these when new products and services are rolled out or changed.
• ❑ Resources
Do your customers need to use other services with yours? Are there other websites that compliment your service or product?Are there industry publications that you read that might benefit your customers by educating them further? Are there resources that your peers could find helpful? List them here.
• ❑ Forums
Leverage your customer base to be your support staff. Find bugs in your products and services that you can publicly respond to and automate your FAQ system. You will need to invest more resources into this platform to manage and moderate it. Existing staff may be able to handle this but you will want to consider creating dedicated positions as it grows to ensure 24/7 prompt responses. Also moderating any inappropriate comments will be critical to maintain brand image.
▶ ❑ News
This can be your Blog, email newsletter, or podcast. You should be publishing all new product and service announcements here. You should also be posting relevant news about your industry, company, product/service, and personnel here. Treat this as your own newspaper. What trends are happening in your industry that benefit your customers?
• ❑ About
What is your business mission? Who is your company? People want to know who they are buying from. The more that they know who you are the easier it is for them to purchase or continue purchasing from you. All critical personnel should have a photo and listing on your site explaining their role at the company and some background about who they are. Link to their LInkedIn profiles and other social media to incorporate those channels into your companies marketing. Everyone is already using social media the question is will your company?
• ❑ Case Studies/Portfolio
Take your most successful projects and break down what you did for them and the benefits they realized. Coordinate with Reviews/Testimonials
• ❑ Reviews/Testimonials
Get your happy customers on record talking about your company and put this on your website. Text or even better videos of why they chose your company and what benefits they realized.
▶ ❑ Types
At a minimum you will have text content on your website but you should be pushing beyond this. Multimedia is more engaging and helps get complex and foreign concepts across to new users much more easily. You should be involved with the strategy and editing of this content but unless it is what you do you should be hiring someone to create it. You should develop an annual content calendar that coordinates with product launches, holidays, trade shows, events, and anything you want to talk about.
▼ ❑ Website