Your Website: two crucial things to have BEFORE you start

by Nikki Mattei

Your Website: two crucial things to have BEFORE you start

Your website is the hub of all your marketing activity

I work with most of my clients on their marketing strategy and planning but I am always involved in their website as that is the hub of all their marketing activity.

I am just about to embark on two website redevelopments for clients and, of course, I will write a detailed brief for the website designer and developer to include the objectives for the site and required response plus the structure of the site, the content, SEO and protecting all the rankings and good work done by the existing sites. But there are two crucial elements which I must have to deliver a successful website.

Don’t even think of starting until you have these two things

As with most forms of digital marketing, it is very simple to jump straight into designing a website. Therefore, lots of small businesses think it is easy. However, they don’t ask themselves these two simple questions first?

  • What images do I have?
  • What copy do I have?

The images on your website are so important

Website design has evolved hugely over the years and today one of the most important things is the images you have on your site. They can be photos of your work and your staff, illustrations, infographics etc. We know that posts on social media which include images have much higher engagement levels. It is the same with websites. You only have about 30 seconds to grab a visitor’s interest and, as they say, a picture paints a thousand words.

So look very carefully at the images you have available. If they are photos, are they good quality? If you have taken them on your mobile phone, then they may be OK as small images (and fine for social media) but they won’t work if you want to use them as a slider or fader at the top of your home page. Would it be worth investing in the design of some infographics to simply and visually explain a certain process or journey you offer to your customers? Do the images you have tell the story of your business and your offer? People don’t necessarily want to see product shots – they want to see what the end result will be for them.

I work with my husband in our horticultural business, The Personal Plant Shopper, and we are about to update our website. The design has become tired (not surprising as we last updated it in 2011) and we want to move on to a mobile-responsive platform to ensure that the website works well on tablets and mobiles as well as appealing to Google, who has started to rate mobile-responsive sites more favourably than those without. The dream we are offering to our customers is the sanctuary of a beautiful garden and so it is vital that the pictures of our work are outstanding – it has always been our biggest challenge – to make sure that we revist the gardens we have planted at the right time of year to get that perfect photo. Luckily, my husband is a perfectionist and a good photographer so he is able to do this himself. But you may have to consider employing a professional photographer or buying images from the many online photo libraries. If one website has images which look second-class and another has beautiful photos, which would you choose if you’ve only got a limited time to search?

Have you thought about the copy?

Before I start a website brief for a client, I always consider the structure of the website and the main sections which will be required. The next thing I do is to write the main headlines so that the website designer can use them in combination with the images. Unfortunately, I have come across a lot of websites where the design is done first and then they try to fit the copy in afterwards. This rarely works well.

As I have said, the images on your website are so important – they should be the tool to attract your potential customer’s attention – and they need to quickly tell your story/offer as people don’t have time to read much when they are searching.

However, the words are really important as Google still uses those to decide whether to show your company to someone doing an online search. So it is crucial that you do thorough research into what your potential customers are searching for online and make sure your website presents itself to Google in the most effective way to get you high in the rankings. SEO is a very important area and that is the subject for another blog!

Pictures and words working together

So in summary, I recommend that before you do anything, you take a close look at the images you have and work on the words that will complement those to really get your message across in our very crowded and competitive online world.

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