Website Design - The The First Step to Success
A successful website is one that achieves its objectives, but so few websites actually have a clearly stated list. It is an essential first step to creating a thriving, active, useful and ultimately successful website. It will layout the path for your website design and can suggest direction for your search engine optimization.
It is plain to see in the design of so many sites that they bolt on features and content with little or no purpose other than to fill up the space. How many forums or 'latest news and events pages' have you seen with content that is several months or years old?
Website objectives are often very simple and straight forward like: 'To make potential clients telephone me.'
Here are some common website objectives that you may consider:
To sell my products/services.
To generate sales leads
To improve client retention
To improve my businesses efficiency
To reduce my costs
Once you know your objectives you can start to plan your website design and SEO
(Search Engine Optimization). Each objective will lead to particular content or functionality on your site. To illustrate how this works lets look at an example - let us say that I run an events company that specializes in monster truck rally shows.
Sell my Products/Services
My first objective is to sell my products. Primarily for me this means selling tickets to each event, but also I have a range of monster truck merchandise ranging from model trucks to branded clothing. I will need a section of my website to be a shopping portal, where people who have already made the decision to come to the rally can purchase tickets with a debit/credit card. The merchandise will also be prominent in the shopping area, so people can buy the t-shirt before they arrive, or for those who missed out while they were at the last event. This part of the site will be very straight forward: here's the picture of the products, click on the one you want and give me your card number! There is no attempt to convince the person to buy since that decision has already been made offline.
Generate Sales Leads
My second objective is to generate sales leads. Here we are looking at people who would like a night out, but haven't made the decision what they would like to do. They may be typing something like 'motor sports' or 'entertainment in Sus***' into Google. The important point is that these people make up a massive sector of Internet users; they are researchers. These people are researching potential entertainment and will make the decision to buy based on the information the website can give them. Knowledge of my typical client will help me here. I know the profile of the people who enjoy monster truck rallies and the things they look for in a good night out. On this section of my website I will have lots of useful information about all the exiting features I have at my shows. I might also want to put testimonials from previous satisfied monster truck fans. The point is to give plentiful good quality information on every aspect of the entertainment on offer. The researcher will have certain criteria. Let's suppose this is the list of typical criteria for my clients:
must be family friendly
must be tonight
must be easily accessible
must be within my budget
we must be able to have a meal
it can't go on too late because of the kids!
If you can tick all these boxes he is likely to make his next stop my shopping portal to buy some tickets! In fact, why don't you make it even easier for him and supply a link to it and also display the phone number in case he prefers the telephone. Let's assume you can tick all the boxes, except that the event is tomorrow and the researcher is looking for somewhere to go today. He may very well want to go but is unable. Allow him to bookmark you for the future - fully capitalise on the visit and ask him to sign up to your newsletter, so that you can stay in touch and let him know about other upcoming events that he may be interested in. Weather they call you to find out more, book tickets online, or simply sign up for the newsletter you have generated sales leads.
Improve Client Rentention
Our third objective was to improve client retention. Let us say that there is a rival show, and we take turns in staging events, but competition is fierce as our typical client will not go to both shows, and to make matters worse the competitors in the shows are the same crowd. In reality there is very little difference between either events company. How do I keep clients loyal to my show? One option is to distinguish my shows with the help of the website. If I create a members-only area and provide premium content and value added services the clients are likely to stay loyal to me. In my members area I can publish the league tables, team and driver interviews and issue special access passes to the events for my clients to meet the drivers and get access to the pits. The clients will come to my shows, not because the show is any better, but because they can get the VIP access pass and receive the special treatment. The website provides a mechanism to do this.
Improve Efficiency and Reduce Costs
Organizing my shows is a difficult and time-consuming process. Communication between the competitors and venues is vital for a successful event. Competitors are constantly contacting me to verify the time of events and to book into future shows. I could achieve my forth and fifth objectives of increasing my companies efficiency and saving money by freeing up my admin staff by creating a section on my website for competitors where I can publish all the information they need in real-time. It will be much easier for them to get it online rather than hanging on the phone until someone can answer it. I save time and money because I've cut my admin burden significantly and freed up my phone lines for clients to buy tickets.
What does your website design include?
As you can see from our monster truck example, your website objectives lead directly to the functionality and content of your website. Every aspect of your website is focussed on your target audience for a specific reason.
To generate website sales we included a shopping cart. This allowed client to pre-book tickets easily. It also gave clients the opportunity to buy merchandise before or after an event.
We created sales leads by allowing our website users to subscribe to the newsletter, so even if we couldn't convince them to buy today, we may have the chance in the future.
We enticed potential clients with rich content about the trucks, drivers and teams which was all geared toward supporting our 'Entertainment in Sus***' keyword landing page. This gave our site a much greater chance of being highly ranked in the search engines.
We beat off our competition by creating a members area on the website containing premium content and granting access to VIP treatment at the shows - encouraging clients to come back for more.
Lastly we created a competitors area on the website to help deal with the administration of the shows. We took pressure off the admin department allowing them more time to deal with client enquiries and again improving the client's experience.
What to do Next
This example just gives you a flavour of how to approach SEO
website design. How to start with your business objectives for your website and how to grow it from there. All we need to do now is to allow people to find it, but that's another story. Check out my upcoming articles or my website in the related links section for more information. http://www.jasonrudland.co.uk/
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