What All Great Websites Share
Monday, September 26, 2016
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that every business out there is unique. There may be overarching similarities, a shared fierce completion for customers, and common goals across the board, but what motivates each team, how far a company will go in a year, how employees address customer issues, and even the internal company culture is as individual as the CEOs themselves.
The same is true for corporate websites. There is no magic, cookie cutter solution that will work for every company; websites that are effective need to be designed specifically for each individual company. But there are elements that all the best websites share.
How long do you think it takes you to judge whether you find something appealing or not? A second? A minute? According to a 2013 Harvard study, it takes us only about 50 milliseconds for us to form our first opinion about something we’re looking at, such as a website.
First impressions are built on aesthetics. Content certainly contributes to our opinion of a website later, but the first thing we notice—and react to—is how the appearance of the website makes us feel. In fact, according to a Stanford study, our first impression is primarily based on design and 75% of us will judge a company’s credibility based on the way the website looks. And, according to that same 2013 Harvard study, when we like the way a great website looks we also assume that the company we’re dealing with is trustworthy.
Achieving great web design relies on several key factors:
High Quality Imagery
All the images on your website, from stock photos to product images, speak volumes about your company. Poor quality images will not only detract from overall design but also inadvertently cause visitors to distrust your content. Even if you have well-written, important things to convey to your audience, poor quality pictures may turn them away before they have a chance to read a single word.
Instead, populate your site with great images that tell part of your company’s story for you. Are you customer-focused? Choose images that reflect your high opinion of your clients. Do you offer incredible products? Hire a professional to photograph them, from several angles if necessary. Do you work with an incredible team? Use professional images of your team on the “About” page so your potential customers can see that they’re working with real people, all working hard to make them happy.
Even if the back end of your site is highly complex, the front end should be extremely user-friendly. Don’t overwhelm your audience with a million choices, an endless number of pages to navigate, or a complicated layout that tries to convey too much information all at once.
Instead, keep the complexity behind the scenes. Utilize comprehensive systems to organize, present, and collect information, but show your audience only what they want, or need, to see.
A good design team will deliver a very consistent site. Once you decide on a look you like, it should flow from one page to the next, even as the content and imagery changes. Consistency is reassuring to your visitors; it creates a feeling of trust and willingness to engage.
Customers love imagery but search engines feed on content—good content. Know your audience and what they search for. Use what you know to inform the content on your site, but keep your audience in mind too. Simply writing for search engines with long strings of keywords is not only ineffective but also very unpleasant to read.
Simplicity is king when it comes to content too. Perhaps counter intuitively, concise content is actually more difficult to achieve than verbose copy. But if you can boil down your message to a simple statement, and then build on that for content, you’re on the right track.
Bring in the Professionals
Let’s be honest, for most companies, building a website is no time for DIY. Gone are the days when a company could throw up any website, as long as they had a place on the Internet. Today customers have a much higher standard. They expect websites to look great, function without a hitch, and tell them exactly what they need to know immediately. These days, company websites are judged the same way customers used to judge company lobbies or retail storefronts.
Basically, getting a great website comes down to one very simple thing: hire a professional team if you to compete on the web.