Creating effective websites

In this Google era where prospects and customers have the freedom to gather vital information and compare products and services to any other in the world, 24/7, 365 days a year, it is crucial to establish what you want your website to accomplish.

What could your website provide or do that others cannot? Why will a prospect choose your product/service over the myriad of choices available online? How does your competitors’ site compare to yours? What is your call to action?

What you really want (and need) is to attract the maximum number of qualified visitors, generate intelligence, and boost leads.

Here are 11 practical web planning approaches that will make your site work more effectively for you:

  1. Know the purpose of your site. How will you measure ROI? Clearly defining your business objectives will help you develop a website that is relevant.
  2. Create a cross-functional planning team. Your sales team must have a say on which product/service features need to be highlighted. Did you involve customer service for your FAQ page? All of your associates can provide you invaluable input for strategic direction.
  3. Communicate to your target audience(s)…all of them. You must address the needs of various tiers: prospects, clients/customers, partners, employees, and vendors! Intimately knowing your points of contact and their interests will allow your site to exceed initial expectations.
  4. Refer to the map. Developing a site requires a solid Content Requirements Plan (CRP). This is your map; don’t get lost!
  5. Know your website visitors. Do you know who visits your site? How often? How many unique visitors? What pages are the most popular? Track your visitors; it’s a way to mine leads.
  6. Integrate your brand into your website. Do visitors relate your site to your company/product/service brands and vice versa?
  7. This year, be easily found. Proper search engine optimization (SEO) can help bring qualified visitors to your site and ensure that they are directed to the most appropriate page(s).
  8. Be responsive. With responsive web design, your site will get more organic search visitors, be mobile-friendly and allow for greater brand control.
  9. Make your website an asset, not a liability. Well thought-out navigation architecture and user-interface design helps visitors quickly find the information they need.
  10. Your website should be a living document. Develop a plan for updating your site on a regular basis. New content helps with search engine visibility and keeps your site fresh, enticing visitors to return.
  11. Be compelling; convey your unique selling proposition (aka: brand). Your customers want to know who/what you are, what you stand for, your experience, how you can solve their problem(s), and most importantly, what differentiates your company/product/service.

Your online visitors are seekers of data, wisdom, opinions, ideas, etc. While the content of your website can be virtually unlimited, make sure your message is clear, consistent, and compelling so that visitors: (A) are engaged by your site, (B) opt-in to your mailing list, and/or (C) purchase your product/service. Any way, you win.

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