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Essential Elements for Designing an Effective Website

First impressions are everything. And although you’ve heard these words a million times before they certainly ring true when talking about web design.

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In today’s society, first impressions are hardly made by person-to-person interactions anymore. Chances are, before a potential client meets with you in person to talk business, they’ve already checked out your company online. As a result, your website is making the first impression for you, and as a business owner you have to make certain it’s making a good one.

Even if you developed a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing website just two years ago, the latest technology is leaving you behind. The quickly changing landscape of web design means businesses need to keep up with the latest trends in order to make that crucially important positive first impression, satisfy user expectations and most importantly, drive revenue.

Our talented wed design and development team at London, Ontario’s ZOO Media Group has the technical skills and eye for design to make your website into an effective and engaging tool for your business. We will guide you through the process and make choices that make sense for your company and your goals.

This article will give you an overview on why an effective website is so important and the critical points to consider when designing your website.

Most people will agree a website is a necessary part of doing business these days, but have you considered why? It’s so much more than just a placeholder or replacement for an ad in the Yellow Pages!

The Doors Never Close

The benefit of having access to a website any time of the day or night means that your potential customers are not confined to the hours of your bricks and mortar store or office. They can browse your site when it’s convenient for them. Some clients may prefer the anonymity the website gives them to peruse your offerings and reach out to you with questions they may have. If your website is eCommerce, that also means you can be selling your product in your sleep...literally!

Ride the Digital Wave

If the majority of people are using their laptops, smartphones and tablets to search out businesses, it’s best to ride that wave. In fact, 81% of people perform some type of online research before making a large purchase. In addition, search near me features are on the rise, so you’ll want to ensure your business is optimized for these types of local searches.

You Control the Messaging

Your website is, in a sense, your own publishing platform. You can use your website to effectively communicate with your consumers and provide the information they need to really understand your product or service. You can choose what medium is right for the job - video, infographic, text, photographs, diagrams, etc. Also, you have control over your website, so when you need to make a change you have the power to do so.

This information can also improve the productivity of your team. Once you have detailed and easy to understand information on your website, it is very easy for a salesperson to direct the potential client to the appropriate page rather than sending detailed emails or explaining something over the phone. Once you decide on the best way to communicate the features and benefits of your products or services, leverage your website and improve productivity!

A Great Investment

The initial set up of a website will be an investment but when you consider it a tool in your branding and marketing strategy, you will see it is an effective asset. Consider throw-away print media and expensive radio & TV ads and compare the flexibility of your own website with your messaging. The website is a clear winner.

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the major reasons to have a great website, let’s look at what makes a website engaging.

Grab Their Attention

Your homepage has about 3-5 seconds to attract and hold your viewer before they decide to hit the back button. Make sure the user can see right away what your site is about and give them a reason to stick around. Make your homepage visually appealing and try to avoid long blocks of text by writing in a clear and concise style. Pay attention to the visual contrast between text and background. Also, the font should be a legible design in a decent size. If a user can’t read your content, it won’t take long for them to give up and move on.

Easy to Navigate

Your users shouldn’t feel like they’re making their way through a labyrinth. Your website design should allow users to easily navigate your site to find what they’re looking for. You likely worked hard to get someone to come to the site, you certainly don’t want them to get frustrated and leave right away. Easy navigation will avoid user frustration and keep visitors on your website longer.

Use Current Technology with a Great Web Design

It’s tough to stay on top of what the current technology trends and demands are, especially when that’s not your company’s expertise. Because of the quickly changing landscape of web design, businesses need to keep up with the latest trends in order to make that crucially important positive first impression, satisfy user expectations and most importantly, drive revenue. ZOO Media Group is experienced in web design, content and flow but also SEO and SEM strategies to improve your rankings and maximize the traffic heading to your website. Our team has the expert skills to create a User Interface (UI) design that works for your clients and your goals. We recognize the importance of maximizing the usability of the site on all devices, providing the best experience for the end user.

Search Engine Optimization

We recommend working with web development professionals to help your website and brand stay up to date with the rapidly changing industry that is search engine optimization (SEO) technology. What was true yesterday may not be true today.

Your website needs to work for you and successfully compete for online traffic. If it is designed with SEO in mind, you will be miles ahead of similar websites without. In the same way that businesses compete in the real-world market, whoever has the attention-grabbing marketing is going to win. Using SEO best practices in your website development will give you that much needed head start to take the lead.

There are also a number of things to do to your website to boost your SEO.

If you think we’ve mentioned SEO quite a bit, we have. And if you’re thinking it must be important, it is! Our ZOO Media team has the experience and expertise to help your website rise to the top of the search rankings and ensure it stays visible. We offer a full suite of SEO strategies and services.

Social Media Marketing

Social media has become a huge part of brand marketing and consumer engagement. So, you’ll want to make sure your website design shines a spotlight on your social media. Convenient icons that link to your Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter should have a prominent place on your page. This is an easy way to encourage further dialogue and connection with your prospective customers. Social media allows for a great deal of interaction and visibility with your followers through photos posted, contests shared and feedback encouraged. Make sure each of those social pages also link back to your website. If you have a regular blog, include a “share” button so readers can easily share with their network.

Syndicating your content such as well written engaging blog articles on social media networks can result in higher traffic on your website. Really, it’s a cycle that just keeps picking up speed – if you keep adding and sharing good SEO content, the crowds will keep coming.

Have a Responsive Website

Having a responsive website is one of the most important aspects of web design today. In a world where first impressions are made within the first few seconds of interacting with your company’s website, a responsive site can make all the difference. You don’t want your users to experience an awkward layout that’s difficult to read and navigate. They would never be back. It’s not just phones and tablets that you need to consider, but also laptops and desktops with a variety of sizes & dimensions. A responsive website adapts to screens of all sizes – both big and small. As such, responsive design enables website developers to effectively present a layout for all devices.

If your current website isn’t designed for easy mobile viewing, drop what you’re doing and give us a call. Your customers use a wide range of devices in order to access the web and place online orders. Responsive website design practices ensures a seamless and consistent user experience. It will ensure that your website is easy to find, read and navigate, regardless of what kind of device is being used to access it.

Content Management Systems

A Content Management System (CMS) is a platform that keeps all of the elements of a website in an easy-to-use system. There are a variety of CMS available, each with their own unique features. A CMS has a collection of themes to choose from, allowing for a coordinated and eye catching graphic design “out of the box”. They typically use plugins to add functionality on an as-needed basis. This is an ideal option for websites that require frequent updates as users can make changes to their website on their own, without always hiring a web developer to make minor changes. However, not every website will require a CMS. If you’d like to learn more about the types of Content Management Systems, see our blog post Choosing a Platform for Your Website.

Consider Adding a Video to Your Site

Create eye-catching content that appeals to the senses of your readers. Video, images, infographics, gifs, and other types of media are engaging for users and ideal for search engines! Video, in particular can be a powerful communicator. Video allows for a positive user experience because you can explain complicated concepts or processes, connect with the emotions of your customer or share intriguing ideas. Video can also help your business rank high with search engines. Because it is an engaging medium, users will spend more time on your site (dwell time) causing Google to consider your video valuable and your site to be trustworthy. And, chances are the user will dig deeper on your site if they video was effective. In addition, videos can easily be shared on your social channels as well.

Customer Reviews, the Trust Factor

Show visitors how much you appreciate and care for your customers and your business with testimonials from past customers. Glowing reviews about your business builds credibility and trust with prospective clients. Another way to build trust with current or prospective customers is to include a page showing your warranties and guarantees of service to demonstrate that you proudly stand by your products and services.

Include a Call to Action

Give users a reason to be there. Engage them by including a call to action in your design. Every good business website includes a button that lets readers “Request a Quote” or “Work With Us” at the top of each web page where it is easily visible. You may even want calls to action at the end of each blog post to increase your chances of connecting. As we mentioned earlier, you worked hard to get them there, give them a reason to convert into a client!

At ZOO Media Group, it’s our job and our passion to know what website designs are trending, working best and serving clients unique needs. Show visitors you’re an active and important presence online with top notch SEO, clean website coding, and outstanding website design. Contact ZOO Media Group today to get your website working harder for you!

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