In this age of modern technology, social media and search engine intelligence…not having a website is no longer an option, but simply slapping any website up onto the World Wide Web may be more detrimental than having no site at all.
As more and more people are now using the internet as their first point of call when looking for a particular product or service, your website is now a significant marketing tool, it is your brand, your identity, your presence to the online world.
With this in mind you can begin to see the importance of your site, not only in how it looks, but more significantly its usability and searchability.
I like to use the comparison of a shopping mall in relation to your site on the World Wide Web.
If the web is a shopping mall and your site is one of the many stores therein, in competition with all the other stores (websites) for the consumer’s attention, what would you consider good marketing practice to attract customers to your store?
Imagine that you have the most wonderful products, beautifully displayed, competitively priced, all at the back of the store, but your storefront windows are blacked out, or boarded up, or the door is locked and nobody can get in. This would be the equivalent – in website terms – of having a homepage with no links to the important content within your site, or a homepage that is entirely flash based, thus preventing search engines from finding any of your links.
So in the ‘mall scenario’, nobody is able to find you, or see what you have to offer in your store. They will just walk on by – and not see all the hard work you have done to make your store so enticing on the inside.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is so vital. When somebody types a phrase into Google, you need to be one of the companies that come up on the first page, or it is very likely that you will be passed over for another company who does feature on that page. So the content of your site, your keywords, metatags and a wide variety of other tools for improving SEO are very important, or once again your ‘storefront windows’ look boarded up to passers-by. They are not even aware that you are open for business.
Usability is another key issue. In the shopping mall scenario if somebody were in fact to enter your ‘store’ and find the items they were looking for, but then all the pay points were down, or they were unable to find a store assistant to ask for help, would they perhaps put the items back and leave the store? Would they come back to your store, or would the experience leave such a bad impression that they never return?
These usability issues can occur with a website. Links are broken, a user is unable to find contact details, too much irrelevant information makes it difficult to find pertinent information, the site takes too long to load etc. Having a site that looks good is important but at the same time it should not be taking anything away from the usability experience. Users want to find what they are looking for and leave, they don’t want to spend hours trawling around for something, because then they may as well give up and go to a competitors’ site.
So to sum up – your website is the online representation of your company, both in looks and in functionality. It needs to be searchable and easy to use. A bad impression is worse than no impression at…..so make sure your site is giving a good one. In ending we do advise all clients to work with a professional web design company.