It's the thought that counts – who (and what) are you building your website for?

Most business owners know that a website is now crucial if they want to stay in the game alongside their competitors. With over 65% of the population using their smartphones to check out a business online before they decide to buy, it’s also vital that the website is worth visiting. A website has now become your ‘shop window’ for an ever-fickle consumer who will look elsewhere at the swipe of a finger if they don’t like what they see. So how do successful websites engage customers at first sight – and keep them coming back for more?

Consider your audience

We all have a pretty good idea of what qualities and elements we feel work well on a website. But your idea of what is interesting and engaging may not correlate with the ideals of your consumers – and this is often where issues can arise for frustrated business owners who feel they’re not getting anything out of their website. The biggest mistake you can make when building a website is to forget to consider your audience – so firstly think about who you are aiming your website at, and why. Once you know this, you can think about the purpose of your site, and armed with the appropriate knowledge start to construct something which your target market will enjoy and engage with.

Ascertain its purpose

Your website must have a clear function – so ascertain the purpose of your site. What are your aims when it comes to the website? What do you want to get out of it – and most importantly, what do you want your clients to get out of it? A website can improve your business in many ways – from increasing sales, augmenting profits and streamlining and improving business processes via the sale of items to booking systems and data capture. This is your window of communication with clients – to inform and inspire them to do business with you. Give them a reason to keep engaging with your business by satisfying their needs and offering an incentive for them to return.

What can you (and your clients) gain?

If your customers gain something from your site, then so do you. Aside from whatever the main purpose of your website may be and being the first point of contact many of your clients will make with your business, ultimately it should serve to make life easier in some way for you and your customers. Whether that’s by offering a simple online ordering system, a facility whereby clients can book appointments and services, a map or stockists list so clients can find you, or perhaps simply a detailed explanation of what it is you do and how you do it, your site should be allowing visitors to gain something from it. If they don’t, then why should they come back?

Familiarity and difference

Soap operas are so well-loved because they work on a clever system of familiarity and difference. The same families are present, in the same setting, with the same old drama – yet new characters come and go, new affairs, murders and scandals emerge each week, and there is the promise of a fresh storyline every episode set against the familiar background viewers have come to know and love. The same can be said for a website. Users don’t want to have to work hard to figure out how to navigate your site through complicated systems; but they still want something fresh, exciting and interesting which stimulates their senses and satisfies the reason they visited the site in the first place.

Don’t forget about functionality

Building a site is about functionality, not just aesthetics. Many people make the mistake when contemplating updating their site or embarking on setting up a new website of focusing solely on the aesthetic aspect of the project and neglecting to consider the actual functionality and practicality of the site. Granted, it’s not quite as fun to analyse how a visitor to your site may navigate compared to picking pretty colours and sourcing fun photography, but it’s vital that this side of things is right as without it, users simply won’t stay on your site for long, may not engage with the site at all, and ultimately they won’t return. Consumers are also becoming increasingly impatient with the prevalence of smartphones – so if they have to work hard to view your site, they will give up or go elsewhere.

When implemented properly each of these elements should complement each other, combining to create the perfect website. Want to find out more about how our expertise at Search and More can help your business to improve its presence online? See here for details:

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