Need a new website that will really work – 1

Q: We’re a software consultancy with three main product solution areas.

Our old website is very dated now and we desperately need a new one.

The new website has to

look great to our big company and public authority customers
do well in search
be suitable for advertising if we wish
be updateable
have lots of impact
be easy to navigate

We’d like a site that does everything and will be a platform for the future of the company. We’d like a website that really works.

What suggestions can you offer?

Marketing Manager
Software company
Brighton

A: Interesting question – what makes a website that really works?

I believe bottom line impact and increased profitability is the best arbiter of what really works

I’d like to reply with 5 points I feel are essential to delivering great website performance.

> Structure

> Design

> Home page

> Search rankings

> Updating

Structure

Getting the core structure right is the first issue to resolve in building an effective website.

You need to establish your core messages and business objectives, and prioritise these before you begin so that the messages that really count, that win you real business, have the most prominence, while the least important but still essential messages are less prominent. Simple but true. Focussing on delivered benefit helps here. Don’t witter on about your internal structures and processes unless the delivered benefit is obvious.

You have three main product solution areas, so I’d suggest you need three microsites under the banner of a single site, with the home page acting like a portal to the three areas.

Each of the microsites should be structured to funnel visitors to your Contact page so that it’s easy for them to write to you and enquire (leads, leads, leads!)

Microsite funnels are also be easy for measuring your web traffic and the flow of your traffic. It simplifies understanding your web metrics.

You’ll be able to analyse where your visitors come from and how they behave. And if analysis suggests changes in the future, you’ll have a web structure that lends itself to being adapted and tweaked.

Design

You also need killer design to be taken seriously.

Within the boundaries of an overall corporately styled art theme, I’d suggest having different artwork for each of the microsites, and fresh artwork for all the usual pages such as News, About Us, Case Studies, Clients, Contact etc.

This will require lots of extra templates and design, and so increase the cost. But the difference shows.

Also consider that artwork doesn’t mean a download of the latest free or cheap art library stock.

You need something artistic with flair that a good designer creates for you.

The difference between this and another site that uses cheap download art will be the difference between great coffee and mediocre coffee. Everybody knows the difference. And if they don’t then who are they?!

Home Page

The Home page needs serious consideration as more people bounce from the home page than any other page.

I’d suggest the following as a minimum.

> Great design that offers clear, highly visible and easy-to-understand link choices to direct visitors to the appropriate microsite. Funnel visitors from your home page. A must.

> A flash multimedia that skillfully engages the audience and spells out the delivered benefits of your product solutions. Don’t be frightened of using voiceover and music for this. If the flash animation has a powerful enough message, there’s hardly any reason for a customer to visit the rest of the site because the flash will tell them all the key points, allowing them to make an immediate enquiry. This might sound ambitious, but don’t let that put you off. Use flash animation or flash video or both on your home page to get your core messages across quickly and engagingly. See example here rossiterandco.com

This article continues tomorrow, looking at Search Rankings and Updating – all essential parts of developing a website that really works!

© Studio Rossiter

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