What is the most Effective Website Design for My Business?

[Infographic] Effective Business Websites: Key Features That Make a Difference

The answer to this question is what most people would like to know (and should ask for) when selecting a provider for their website design. However, many clients often state their wants differently and assume they will receive what they really needed. Here are some questions people ask:

  1. “I want a simple website. How much does it cost?”
  2. “I want my new website to be mobile friendly. What is your pricing?”
  3. “I want a good-looking website that has these features. What do you charge for that?”

These questions may seem practical, but they don’t provide answers to the most relevant question: What is the most Effective Website Design for My Business?” In the following discussion, I will point out the gaps between what people often ask for and the reality of what is provided. I’ll offer some helpful hints so you can avoid a disappointing website design. Let’s get started.

[Infographic] Effective Business Websites: Key Features That Make a Difference
[Infographic] Effective Business Websites: Key Features That Make a Difference

“Good Looking” vs “Effective”
Many people assume that a good-looking, mobile-friendly website is also an effective website and will help them convert business. Sadly, this is not true. Why? Because visitors come to your website with an intention. Their intention is to find information, products or services that they need. They are not there to “ooh and aah” over the beautiful website (unless they are your best friends). Your priority should be to make your website easy to use and provide the information viewers want. When that happens, it is much more likely that they will take the action you so openly provide, such as: contact you, buy your products, or subscribe to your services.

A “good-looking website” is usually developed by three types of specialists: a digital marketing/SEO professional, a website designer, and a website programmer. The most common sequence of events in creating a “good-looking” website starts with the designer, moves to the programmer, and then to the marketing specialist. However, there is a basic problem with that progression.

Your target audience wants relevant information from your website — quickly. Their attention span gets even shorter as the screen size of their computing devices decreases in size. For this reason, before handing the project over to the website designer, you need to intelligently strategize the content and layout of your web pages in order to communicate with your audience effectively.

To accomplish this, you need a strategic digital marketing person (as project manager) to work on your project from the beginning. That project manager will quickly grasp the mission and vision of your business, goals, and target customers. S/he would dig deeper to learn more about you and your business, and outline an effective development plan. They will tailor it to each segment of target customers for successful conversion. Remember, a successful website is the one that is built for Your Customers, not just for (or about) your business. The most advantageous approach to design starts with the strategic marketer/SEO specialist, moves to the website designer, and then to the website programmer.

Don’t overlook these other key factors
Some businesses will take an incorrect approach by having a website designer or programmer start their project. As a result, they get an attractive website and/or a well-functioning website, but not necessarily an effective website. This error in development results in a fair number of complaints from small business owners who state that their websites are not producing results.

It gets even worse when people choose an employee, friend or relative to set up a cheap templated website and populate their web pages with text and images, without the help of a strategic online marketer. Although it is understandable that small businesses have a limited budget and need to keep the website design cost low, a cookie-cutter website is not the right way to attract and convert new customers. It is basically a waste of time, money and efforts.

Because of this common misinterpretation, many choose a cheap, one-size-fits-all template for their website and assume they have made the right choice. Then as they keep spending money on advertisements to drive their target audience to the site, their website continues to fail in communicating with their likely customers. Their final conclusion is to blame the ad campaigns for not driving a good number of qualified customers to the website. They might even assume that internet functionality has failed.

That said, the key to a successful website design is to custom design the site specifically for your customers so it will communicate well with them. Producing a low-cost website usually equates to a low conversion rate as well. A better plan is to negotiate a payment plan with your provider to get your website positioned for success.

Here is an important fact for business websites:
When potential customers arrive at your website, if it looks good, they may stay a bit longer to explore, but that doesn’t mean you have gained their business. The next thing your visitors do is much more important. They navigate your website to find the information they need. If your website is user-friendly and provides helpful information quickly, you have a much better chance of being contacted. Therefore, the website that “looks good” is not necessarily the one that is effective.

Who is your most important audience?
Many businesses are not even aware that there is another type of audience on the internet which is much more important than their target audience (the customers) when promoting their websites on the internet. That audience is Search Engines’ Spiders. These “spiders” crawl your website frequently to learn about and rank your web pages. If they rate your pages highly, future customers will find your website when they are searching for similar services, products and information. If your pages do not rate well, it will be very difficult for your human customers to find you.

Since the majority of consumers today use online search engines to find providers and information, it is imperative that your website be optimized favorably. Here are a few key things you need to do for your website to be rated beneficially by the search engines:

  1. Provide helpful content to your target customers on a custom-designed website.
  2. Make your website user friendly and mobile friendly. (Google recommended)
  3. Make sure to tag your web pages with key words and phrases which your target clients will most likely use when searching online.

By now you should see the gap between what people often ask for when they first encounter a provider and the results they are really expecting. To avoid disappointment, ask the right question: “What is an effective website design for My Business?” You can then observe the provider’s response to see whether they are really interested in learning about you and your business goals or if they are more interested in your wallet.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you do, please share it with others so they can benefit from it as well. Thank you!

Phong Nguyen

BA from St. Olaf College
MBA from University of St. Thomas
SEO from "the School of Hard Knocks."

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