Online sales and marketing are becoming an ever-increasing source of revenue for businesses. The financial analysts at Forrester Research predict that within a few years online sales will exceed $250 billion a year and will make up close to 10 percent of all consumer purchases.
“Web influenced” retail purchases account for an even larger share. These are traditional in-store sales that the customer has researched online beforehand, and they account for nearly half of all retail purchases in this country.
Clearly, any company wishing to survive and grow in today’s marketplace needs a dynamic Web presence. But just creating a basic template Website and expecting the sales to come pouring in is an unrealistic expectation. Every aspect of a company Website must be analyzed and developed to maximize the return.
There are a lot of Websites out there, and your competitors are chasing the same online dollars and eyeballs that you are. By making sure every page of your Website adheres to these three critical design elements, your company Website can stand out from the herd and deliver the results you are looking for.
1. Simple Layout and User Interface
One of the biggest mistakes some companies make is trying to cram too much information onto the Website. Studies show that the average Website viewer’s attention span is growing shorter and shorter. Every page must be designed to convey the greatest amount of information in the shortest amount of time.
- Lose the flash introductions. They may look pretty but are wasted time and effort.
- Make your navigation menu simple and easy to see. Your navigation structure is key in determining how long viewers stay on your site.
- White space on the page is your friend. Use it to highlight the truly important text.
- NO BLOCKS OF TEXT. Break it up. Trim. Edit. Do whatever it takes to make it easy to read. If something can be said in one sentence, don’t write a paragraph.
- Design your site to accommodate all screen resolutions, all Web browsers, and all Internet speeds. By limiting yourself to only customers using specific requirements, you greatly reduce your potential online customer base.
- Do not use automatic sound and noise effects, complicated animation graphics, splash pages, scrolling text, and pop-up ads. These will only annoy visitors and invite them to go elsewhere.
2. Great Content
Content is king and it always will be. Your main priority in creating your Website is making sure that there is something on it worth visiting.
- Make sure your copy is well-written and informative.
- Link to sites and information that would be of use to your target audience. For example, if you are selling bicycle helmets, then you could include the latest race results, studies on health benefits of biking, and links to community bike groups.
- Change and update your content often. Give viewers a reason to keep coming back.
- Allow your customers to share your content using social media. Facebook, Twitter, and other services provide built-in API’s that make this easy. Your site should be built to make word-of-mouth marketing as easy as possible.
3. Search Engine Optimization
The overwhelming majority of online shoppers use search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing to find the product, service, or information they are seeking. Therefore, improving your ranking on the search results page will reap tremendous rewards by getting more visitors to your site. Although a business can improve its visibility on search engines by using techniques such as sponsored results and pay-per-click campaigns, the much preferred method is to improve page ranking organically.
- Search engines hate frames. You want to make it as easy as possible for the search engine spiders to access and catalog your site.
- DON’T steal content, farm backlinks, or use black-hat techniques. The minimal short-term benefits are outweighed by the consequences.
- Research keywords. Finding the most effective keyword and keyword density is paramount to improving your page ranking.
- Avoid code clutter by using cascading style sheets.