Posted on 29 March, 2017  |  3 min

Most, if not all businesses have websites. They're the go-to places for customers researching what you do and, as with most things, first impressions count. That makes your website absolutely essential to customer engagement.

Few things will turn customers away faster than an unloved website, with out-of-date content or outdated functionality. If it's an uninspiring experience, visitors won't hang around; you'll look like an amateur and they'll be off looking elsewhere.

But when you make your website an engaging extension of your brand, it's a powerful tool for generating sales and building customer loyalty.

When the time comes to refresh your business' website, it's worth considering the latest thinking on what makes a business website most effective. Here are a few tips:

Think mobile and be responsive

With visitors now more likely to visit your website on their mobile rather than computer, it's vital to make sure your site can be accessed through any device at any time. Responsive design means making your website easy to use regardless of the device you are using. Another benefit of responsive design is that you only need to undertake one build - rather than pay for and maintain multiple sites.

Stand out with great design

Modern website design has come a long way and trends have changed too. And thanks to advances in web design, designers now have more flexibility to be creative, with plenty of exciting design elements you can bring to your website to give it more appeal:

  • Video and animation - rather than just having static images, video content and animation is appearing on more websites. Modern websites now include plenty of video and animated features, such as scrolling imagery, rotating elements and interactive Google Map locations. It's an effective way to bring a site to life, whether it's small 'hover' effects when you move your cursor over an image, or video clips which can help with product or brand story-telling. Video is another way you can make life easier for your customer. Relatively cheap to produce, and far more engaging than still photography. Having the ability to add a voice-over or overlay punchy text on the video really gives your website another dimension.
  • Graphics and infographics - traditionally used in print media, commissioned graphics are a great way to give your website a unique difference. Graphics are a unique and different way to engage and to convey your brand's personality and any important messages you want to get across. It's also a creative way to share information, it helps perceive new relationships and form various interpretations.
  • Photography - using a mix of stock photography and your own personal photography on your site may add a more natural-looking sense of identity to your brand. High-quality photos will help to build a reputable brand for your website, depending on your budget. By taking your own photography, you're in complete control to create the perfect images and complement your brand.
  • Colours and Fonts - being brave with colour is a great way to attract the eyes of buyers. Similarly, better screen resolutions means a wider choice of readable fonts, so being inventive with fonts, styles and sizes can also make your website and messaging stand out. For example the first mistake people make is creating a site with fonts that are too small, best to use 12 pixels when creating website content. There are some colours to avoid like neon colors, they can be fun, gutsy and add a lot of pop to a design. Unfortunately they are incredibly hard on the eyes, giving users that 'blurry' feeling where everything hurts to look at.

Use simple navigation

Customers lead busy lives and their time is precious - so get them onside immediately by making it easy for them to find the information or product they want.

A great customer experience starts with a good understanding of your customer. Not only do you want to know who they are, but you want to dive deeper into their motivations, fears, and behaviour. Creating a user persona is an important first step to understanding the mindsets of potential customers. While some case studies look at how your personas might use the product, the experience map can help you support the buying cycle, whether they have only just found out about you or they are considering buying from you. Giving customers the right information at the right time.

Keep refining your website

If there's one thing we know for certain about today's market, it's that it is constantly changing. In a rapidly evolving business landscape, taking advantage of the tools available today makes it easier than ever to create productive, efficient and collaborative workplaces that will save your company the time, energy and money that is better spent on what really matters: Growing your business.

Having apps such as Google Analytics on your 9 Spokes data dashboard is a great way to see how your website is performing and whether your marketing activities are having the desired effect.

So we've covered the importance of email and now web in your digital marketing strategy. Next time we'll look at the final key component of digital marketing—social media.

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