How to Build a Website with Purpose
If you were to ask us what the biggest mistake business owners make with their website is, we’d answer in a second – they build their site without really considering what their clients are looking for in an online experience. Many people think that the key to an effective site is to just have a one up, period. What does it matter if the layout, colors and information are not that appealing? If you build it, they will come, right? Not anymore. People should be able to see past the superficial outside of your site and see your value, shouldn’t they? Nope. How your website is designed and functions matters very much to your prospects, so ignoring their experience is not a good idea.
So how do you build a website like this? Here’s 3 things to consider:
1.Think About Your Customers
First, you must forget about building a website for yourself but rather focus on primarily catering to your target (or existing) clients. It’s fine to create something that you think looks nice, but does it also connect with a prospect and guide them to take action? For example, do your ideal web visitors need to be able to read testimonials about your previous work if they’re considering hiring you for a project, or is the site more of a virtual business card that will help validate your credibility with existing clients? A law firm likely won’t gain a new client just through a website, but a professional web presence can be crucial to the process of client acquisition. On the other hand, a startup apparel company will rely heavily on the website successfully selling its clothes. With that in mind, is there a specific color or layout you should use? Are your viewers online gurus or do they not get online very often? When you know who your visitors are, you can reverse engineer the building of your site to maximize the visitor’s experience and the chances of them converting into a lead or customer.
2. Understand The Market
To better understand how to maximize your online presence, you need to understand the market you’re competing in. Take some time to research what your competitors are doing and whether or not it is working well for them. Make some notes to yourself about which aspects of your competitors’ site you think would be appealing to your target market and which aspects you think would turn them away. Is there something they are doing to set themselves apart that you could model with your own style? Take note of how they present their services to their prospects in their menus and sidebars. Do they have a blog? If so, which types of articles have been getting the most likes and shares? Write it all down to cross-reference later.
It’s not smart to copy a site you like exactly, but it is good strategy to capture and duplicate the best ideas and add your own flavor to create a unique experience for your own visitors. Once you’ve taken the time to study the market, identify what makes your organization stand out and how you can prominently display that on your site for the world to see!
3. Consider Hiring an Expert
To save money, many small business owners end up trying to build a website themselves only to produce a messy, amateur representation of their business. They pour hours into getting everything online and end up stressed out and burned out because they can’t figure out how to use the technology properly. If they would have billed themselves for their own time, they usually would end up paying at least 2-3x in terms of the opportunity cost of trying to handle things on their own. If you’re going to build a website that will be a long-term fixture and marketing tool for your business, take the time on the front end to do it right. You’d be surprised to find out that it will usually cost less than you expect and turn out better than you’d hoped. You also won’t end up pulling all of your hair out.
A good web developer will help you determine not just an effective design for your site, but will work with you to create a site that will fit into your overall marketing strategy. Like social media, advertising and creating content, a website is a lead generation tool. It is supposed to help you attract new clients as your marketing partner working for you 24/7. How much money are you leaving on the table if you have a sub-par website? Can you afford to try to do this yourself if you don’t have the skills required? The answer is no unless you don’t mind having a site that doesn’t reflect your business as well as it could. Your site should reflect the best version of your business, so plan your development strategy accordingly.
A website is not just a website; it is your marketing partner. A great site can bring you new leads while a mismatched, untargeted site can drive leads away. Don’t be an indirect referral source to your competition because your site frustrates visitors by not fulfilling the reason they visited your site in the first place!