How Fancy Does Your Website Really Need To be?
Do you know what’s effective on your website and what’s overkill? Do you know what features and functions your audience responds to and what turns them off? Many websites go overboard. They utilize every bell and whistle available. The goal, presumably, is to provide a great user experience. Unfortunately, they end up accomplishing the opposite. So…
How Many Bells and Whistles Does Your Website Really Need?
This may sound incredibly dull. Every single feature on your website needs to have a proven function and purpose. Sometimes that’s not so easy to identify. Generally, if it doesn’t help you achieve your goal then it’s best to get rid of it. Here’s why:
* Most bells and whistles distract from your overall goal and purpose. For example, if you want a visitor to make a purchase then a flash graphic is generally nothing more than a distraction.
* Most bells and whistles slow your website down. A fancy graphic or internal program slows down the upload time. If it takes too long for your site to upload then you’re going to lose potential visitors. That’s certainly not good. If your website doesn’t upload in a matter of seconds, ten or less, it’s time to shrink files and eliminate heavy graphics.
* Most bells and whistles don’t offer tangible value. Think about it for a moment; what value does a fancy website graphic add to your customer’s experience? What value or benefit do they gain? If the answer is nothing, then get rid of it.
An add-on feature or function is good when it adds value to your visitor’s experience. For example, a social networking feed can be superfluous on some websites. However, if it helps build your following and create a community it can be a good feature. Some bells and whistles make sense.
So how do you decide if a website feature is relevant? How do you know if you should keep it or eliminate it? Ask yourself the following questions:
* Does it enhance your visitor’s experience?
* Does it help you achieve a business goal?
* Does it slow down your website upload time?
* Does it distract?
If you’re unsure, consider testing and tracking the data. Install the feature and then review the data. Take a look at how long people remain on your landing page. If they spend less time on your page, then the new feature may be the reason.
If possible, test the feature itself. Are people interacting with it? What do they do once they’ve interacted with it? If people are staying on your website longer with the new feature, what action are they taking? Are they buying more? Are they signing up for your opt-in list? Are they reading more content?
Some bells and whistles offer value. They support business growth. Know your audience, your goals and the purpose of each add-on feature. Pay attention to the data.
Website Design Options
When you’re creating a website there are a number of decisions to make. In addition to your budget and the creation process, there are features and functions to weight. There are so many fantastic technologies and options that the process can feel overwhelming!
#1 What’s the purpose of your website?
This is perhaps your single most important consideration. When you know your website’s purpose there are some design options that just make sense. For example, if you’re going to be an affiliate marketer and your website’s purpose is strictly to provide information, then you’ll likely want a CMS or a theme-based website. Know your site’s purpose first! Then you can weight your options.
On the other hand, if you’re building an e-commerce site you will want a shopping cart solution and a product catalog full of product photos and descriptions.
#2 What’s your budget?
Believe it or not, you can design a professional-looking website on just about any budget. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to hire a pro. That being said, you may want to hire a professional so the job is done right the first time. A professional can help you integrate all of the design elements and technologies right from the get go.
If you have a low start-up budget, consider having an existing template or design modified by a pro. For example, you can hire a WordPress designer to modify a template to fit your needs and website purpose.
#3 Who is your audience?
Your audience plays a very important role in the design of your website. Not only do you want to make sure your site is easy to navigate, you also want to make sure it appeals to your audience. If they’re cutting edge, then you’ll want a modern look and feel. If your audience is older, then you may want a more mature design.
Does your website niche fit better with video content or print content? How are you going to connect with your prospects, visitors and customers? Your site’s design needs to support your audience and their needs and desires.
#4 Efficiency and logic
While the appearance of a website is important, so too is the user’s experience. Ideally a site will feel intuitive. Everything will be easy to find and apparent. Your visitors won’t have to dig for information and if they are digging it’s because you want them to. This means:
* Logical content categories
* Relevant and easy-to-access pages (for example your about, affiliate, press and FAQ pages)
* Streamlined processes (for example shopping cart, opt-in and download processes)
Before you design your site or have someone design it for you, plan it on paper. Know exactly what your site’s purpose is and create a plan to make it happen. Research other sites in your industry. Research keywords so you know how your prospects search.
Also take a look at the various technologies that can support your site and its purpose. Some website design services offer seamless integration. Keep your visitors’ experience at the heart of every decision and you won’t go wrong.
Why Content Is Crucial for Your Website
There’s one sure-fire way to success online. Make sure you have an abundance of content on your website. Without content there’s really no reason for anyone to visit your site. Here’s why content is crucial for your site.
Your content is the single biggest value you offer prospects and visitors. Each time a new visitor comes to your site, they’re looking for one thing. They’re looking for information. Content is information.
Now, you don’t have to provide content in the form of articles or reports. You can provide audio content, video content or even snippets of content like tips and quotes. There’s a huge variety to the type of content your website can offer. Consider offering the type of content that your audience best responds to. Make sure it fits your business goals and provides value to your visitors and prospects.
Content is what search engines look for when they’re indexing your site. It’s how they know what your site is about. It’s also how many of your website visitors find you. They type into their search engine the keywords or the words that describe the information they’re searching for. The search engine provides them with a list of website results. They click on one or many of these results and they end up on your website. None of this would happen without content.
Sales and Profits
Regardless of your business model, content helps you make money. Content helps you establish credibility and authority with your visitors. This gives them confidence to buy from you. Content also helps you establish your brand. It helps prospects like you. Again, this is a buying trigger. People buy from people they like.
Content also helps persuade. When you present information that offers value, your visitors can make an informed decision. They can solve their problems based on the guidance and solutions you provide.
How Much Content Is Enough?
Honestly, as long as your content provides value and supports your goals and your visitors, you can never have too much. Create a plan to add content to your website on a regular basis. Stay in touch with trends, hot topics, your customers’ needs and problems.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how much content you have to have on your site. Create your content plan to help you meet your goals. Each piece of content you publish should have a goal and a purpose – even if the purpose is simply to inform.
Create a plan that matches your visitors’ needs with your own budget, time and goals. If you want your website and business to succeed, make sure to include content as part of your long-term strategy.
Which Website Design Software Is the Right One for Me?
Building a website is supposed to be easy, right? It can be, if you choose the right software for your skills and needs. However, with so much website design software to choose from, it’s hard to make a choice. Let’s take a look at some basic information to help you choose your ideal design software.
How much time do you have to learn new software and design your site? If you’re aiming for a launch deadline, then you may not have tons of time. Some software programs have a steep learning curve. Others are intuitive and easy to use. Be realistic about the skills and knowledge you already possess and the time you have.
What is the purpose of your website? What do you need it to accomplish and provide? If you’re creating a very advanced site with a lot of bells and whistles, then you may want an advanced program to create it. However, if you’re creating a basic site, for example a theme-based site, then you may not need a professional software program. A simple site builder wizard may do the trick.
Website design software ranges from free to thousands of dollars. Be realistic about your budget. If you’re building a website as part of a business, then be realistic about your return on investment as well. If you can recoup the cost of the software in six months to a year, then it’s likely worth the expense.
Some website design software is fully capable of integrating with a number of add-ons. For example, you can use your software to design your site and then add on a second party shopping cart application. Other software programs don’t integrate well with much. What you see is what you get. Before purchasing website design software, create a plan. Plan what you want your website to be able to accomplish now. What features do you need?
Also plan for the future. How are you going to grow? What features and technologies might you need in the future? Think ahead. Of course you’re not going to be able to predict the future a hundred percent, so also pay attention to #5 below.
#5 Reliability and longevity
Ideally you want your website design software to be supported tomorrow and ten years from now. If you purchase software and they go bankrupt next week, there won’t be any developers working on maintaining and improving the program. However, if you purchase from a reliable company that’s been around for a while, you can be fairly certain you’re protected. You can also be fairly certain their developers will continue to grow and adapt the software to fit the demands of new technology.
If you’ve looked at all of the considerations and still aren’t sure how to compare, speak to other website owners. What software did they use? What did they like about it? What did they dislike about it? This is particularly helpful if they’ve built a site that’s similar to yours in purpose and function.
There are site builders for every type of business model and purpose. For example, membership sites, e-commerce sites and of course theme-based sites. Find the software that fits your site’s purpose and your needs and go from there. To your success!