Almost anyone shopping for almost every kind of service or product starts on the Internet. The web is today’s “Main Street” and your website is today’s storefront or window display. In the days before websites, business owners put extensive thought into how their stores were shown on the street and the layouts within; they knew how customers interact with their businesses impacted their brand.
Well, today, that is no different except now the primary interface of the customer to your business is your website. So putting the same care and thought into how they interact with your website and how that will impact your brand can have a direct impact your business.
Here are some tips so you can start engaging your customers.
Websites can offer endless possibilities for what information you can communicate. But remember that you really only have a few pages or clicks to establish a brand and branding can make or break a new business, especially if your company is competing with larger, better-established firms. If your company offers a specialized service or product, consider highlighting the aspects that are unique. This allows visitors to associate your company with these unique services and more likely to remember your company’s name when the right opportunity rolls around.
If your services or products are more mainstream, you may want to highlight the industries you serve or the particular type of project that the company specializes in. If this isn’t enough to set your company apart from the competition, consider emphasizing major achievements or highlight any well-publicized engagements or contracts awarded with major clients.
Just like a store layout, you need to make it easy for your customers to get to what they want easily. Your website design should make it easy to find vital information such as projects worked on, capabilities and contact information. For larger companies, the design should make it easy for visitors to navigate through large amounts of information available on the company website and to find the appropriate contact information for a particular inquiry. This is not only important for the user experience, but it can help streamline internal business processes as well. For example, if the company only provides a general contact (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org), all inquires will need to be filtered and redirected, which can be costly and inefficient. If your business already forwards these inquiries to a key contact in each department, it may make more sense to provide the contact information for these individuals on the company website. This will not only decrease the number of emails that need to be sorted, it also eliminates an entire step for processing emails, which will save time and reduce the amount of waiting time before customers receive a response.
There are three types of features to consider: features available to the business, developer, or users (or customers).
To attract new clients, many businesses now provide information in a wide variety of formats, such ebooks, blogs and white papers. Offering valuable insight into a particular field or sharing your expertise can help generate new leads and grow your business. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean every company should start generating this type of content on the company website. Without the resources to generate this contact, customers can also be turned away. Make sure your company can invest in this type of initiative and remember that the information you share should demonstrate the benefits of your product or services without revealing proprietary information that you don’t want to reveal to competing companies.
To reach potential new customers and generate business, it’s important to keep your audience in mind when designing your website. After all, a restaurant will need a very different website than a construction company. How does this translate into design requirements? Well for one thing, a restaurant may lose a significant amount of business by not creating mobile website that is easier to read and faster to load on smart phones. A construction company is much less likely to lose business by not creating a smart phone friendly website.
On the flip side, for business like graphic designers, video editors and artists that rely on showcasing their work may want to make sure that they have the technological capabilities to stream large videos or easily load large folders of images so users can easily and quickly view your portfolio.