[tweetmeme source=”rhondahurwitz” only_single=false]True confession: I used to like pretty websites.
I was a design snob, and used to obsess over sleek fonts and uncluttered layouts. Now, when it comes to websites, I think that “pretty”, “clean looking” and even “award winning” are mostly irrelevant terms.
Why? As appealing as these qualities might be, websites must produce quantifiable results. Customers spend more time online, and being visible and getting found in search has never been more important.
Website advice may sound strange coming from someone who doesn’t make a living designing websites, but as an online marketer, my goal is to help clients succeed and grow. Making websites better is often job #1, so …
Before you start your next website project, here are 5 things you should think about, to create a better website:
- Develop a basic checklist of website requirements. In addition to the usual branding and communication needs, consider important Inbound Marketing goals that need to be met behind the scenes: “search results”, ”traffic”, “lead generation” , and “conversion”.
- Think like your customer: what are they searching for, what information would they value? Do a deep dive into your customer life cycle, and come up with content and offers that fill your customer funnel at each stage of their decision process. Build strong offers, calls to action, and landing pages into your website.
- Insist on SEO (Search Optimization) for every page. Make sure that your title and description tags are optimized, incorporate a keyword optimized blog, don’t use flash, incorporate social media integration, etc.
- Bake in analytic tools right from the start. As the motto goes, “In God We Trust. Everyone Else Bring Data”. Add Google Analytics tracking code to each page of your website, or use a marketing analytics driven platform like Hubspot. On the internet, everything is measurable, so collect and use information to make better decisions!
- Check out the Hubspot Website Grader, a (free!) website diagnostic tool, for more website specific suggestions. Whether you have recently redesigned your site, or plan to do so, you will surely discover room for improvement.
The goal of this blog post is to start a conversation about website do’s and dont’s, and collect specific tips from real experts. Please add your opinion about what makes a great website, in the comments below!
*(full disclosure: I work for a firm that has won many Big W awards for all sorts of client work, including websites. I still think we can do better as an industry).