Web disaster – How does an unloved website damage your business?
It's been said a million times but it’s worth restating: the website is the new shopfront. While first impressions are more likely to be made through your social media, once a potential customer has become interested in your product or service, they’re headed straight to your website for more information. Being greeted by a mess that looks like a poorly maintained MySpace page from 2007 is a guaranteed way to lose the interest of any potential customer. Making sure your website is up to snuff is one of the most important things you can do as a business, but there’s more to it than just whacking up a basic description of who you are and what you do. Here are some potential pitfalls of making sure your website is 2019 and 2020 ready, and how to avoid them:
UX UX, or user experience, is a term used in both web and app design to describe both how you present the functions of your website, how they work and how the user is lead through the process of getting to what they want. Considering UX means creating a clean, accessible user interface for your website. How many times have you been confronted with a messy, disorganised homepage and been immediately put off and decided to look somewhere else? In order to ensure your website has a good UX, you need to consider things like where buttons and menus are placed, text size and colours for visibility and accessibility and overall usability. Techniques such as empathy mapping are useful for UX as they allow you to put yourselves in the customer’s shoes and think about what they are going to want quick access to and any issues they may have with your current setup.
Information architecture An often-overlooked aspect of UX is information architecture, which focusses less on how the functions of the website are presented and more on how the information on the website is presented and found. We’ve all been eight links deep into a website and still absolutely none the wiser as to how to find the information we came for. Poor information architecture is one of the most potentially frustrating things for a user to experience, so you need to make sure all of the information on your website is neatly categorised for easy location. Think about everything a potential customer could want to know about your company and product/service. Then attempt to categorise them in an easily decipherable way for your top-level navigation, while trying to keep the website as ‘shallow’ as possible in terms of the number of clicks it requires to find a given piece of information. You can get away with some depth if necessary, just make sure it’s immediately obvious as soon as someone lands on your homepage where they need to look.
Hosting Hosting is the platform on which your website sits. Most will likely use an external provider for this, so you only need to have a working knowledge of it, enough to make an informed decision at least. Different hosting services have different features so consider what you need out of your website when researching potential partners, whether that be a shop, a membership focus or the ability to post news and blogs. Your hosting service will also have different amounts of customisation available in terms of aesthetics and branding, so discuss the options in detail with your marketing/branding team. Another key thing to consider is reliability. Being hit with a 404 message when you’re trying to access a website is always frustrating, so ensure that your hosting partner has a track record of reliability and no outages.
Branding The digital revolution has changed the aesthetics of business and the world more than any other advance in technology, so having a current brand and aesthetics is very important when creating your website. Trying to make the faux-3D logo you got back in 2006 work in a post-iPhone digital space is simply not going to cut it. Ensure your logo is digital appropriate and can be amended to fit in all the kinds of spaces it may have to sit digitally, both on your website and on social media. When considering colours, make sure you are picking colours that will look good at any brightness level and that you can easily place readable text over or alongside where needed.