Here at Fluro, we’ve been creating new websites. Lots of them. Lukcily, it’s something we love to do. We’re particularly proud of our latest work for Mindful Education, Sennheiser, Sagittarius IP, Winchmore Camps and Edgify.
As with any area of speciality, the more experience you have, the more best-practice dos-and-don’ts you pick up along the way. Here are our 5 top tips for creating better websites:
1. Clear simple navigation
Mat, our boss, has coined a saying about website navigation. “If your customer gets lost on the site, your customer gets lost full-stop.” As much as it pains me to say so, he’s right.
It’s tempting to tell everyone everything about your company. But in truth, people visit your site for their own benefit not yours. They won’t put up with being side-tracked without good reason.
To make navigation as intuitive as possible, draw out your site map before you start. Then, give it the overnight test. Then you’ll see through fresh eyes whether it can be simplified even further. Search engines track user behaviour on your site and poor engagement signals like bounces will damage your ranking.
2. Make sure your site gets found
Talking of search engines, understanding Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital. Having good SEO will mean your new website will be seen by as many customers and prospects as possible. But SEO can be a tough nut to crack. Just when you’ve worked out how to play the game, the search engines change the rules to stop people like you working out how to play the game. That means your SEO knowledge needs to be refreshed almost as often as the paper in the photocopier.
Having said that, this dark art isn’t as tricksy as it used to be. It now boils down to using focused, well-written copy, regularly refreshed content and strong links into and out of your site.
Don’t be tempted to go off-piste to pursue the endless possibilities you could rank for. Stay focused and pinpoint the keywords your core audience searches for the most.
In terms of regularly refreshed content, blog articles and videos are the kind of thing you can add to your site regularly and cost-effectively. Doing this proves to the search engine spiders that your website is a living, breathing entity, worthy of attention.
3. Mobile first
The figures are changing all the time but, at last count, more than 50% of website traffic is now generated by mobile phones. The figures might fluctuate, but they’re only ever heading in one direction and this time next year, the number will be even higher.
Only a few years ago, we were getting our heads around converting elegant laptop designs into something not much bigger than a postage stamp. But now, we fully embrace the benefits. Not just for end users, but for us too. The discipline of working within such a constricted space forces us and our clients to prioritise and simplify, simplify, simplify. The finished websites are better for it.
4. Support your website with a noisy launch campaign
While you’ll be convinced that the launch of your new website deserves a slot on the national news, your visitors aren’t going to be quite so excited. With most people’s natural resistance to change, they might be even be wishing you’d left things as they were.
What helps keep things positive from the start, is alerting people to the change in advance. This means that the first time they visit your new site, it’s not an unsettling shock. To this end, include a link to your new website on the email signature of everyone who works for your business.
You should also let your social media followers know that great things are about to happen. Highlight the improved user experience that lies ahead for them.
If you don’t have one already, this could be the perfect time to introduce an email newsletter. While the first edition will announce the new website, follow-ups could highlight updated content on the site, such as recently posted blogs.
Facebook Ads are another effective way to get the message out there. The beauty of Facebook is that you can aim your messaging directly at the people local to you, who are most likely to be interested in your offering.
5. Never launch a new website on a Friday
We’ve all been there. The client’s been telling the agency how important it is to get the new website up ASAP. Then, in a moment of weakness, the agency has made a rash promise that it will go live before the end of the week. After burning many cans of midnight oil, the new site goes live at 4.30pm on Friday afternoon.
However, even the best prepared websites have the odd teething problems. These can soon be ironed out, but only if somebody with the right know-how is aware of them. It could be issues with the cache, perhaps, or maybe the DNS is not directing properly. It’s no big deal except that, over the weekend, the right people aren’t around to fix those glitches and frustration might escalate.
Better to be patient and launch at the beginning of the next week. That way, teething problems can be addressed before anyone knows they’ve even happened.
If it’s time you updated and upgraded your website, please give one of the team a call on 01628 525449 and they will happily talk you through the possibilities.