In some respects, your website is like a living, breathing thing; it’s available 24X7, and requires consistent care and feeding.
Unlike a printed brochure, your website can continually evolve and improve through better content, easier navigation, greater functionality, and testing. Here are some tips for improving your site—and your customers’ experience with your site—by creating a more powerful and effective web presence.
Make it Easy for Your Customers to Access and Navigate Your Site
- Your website’s UI (user interface) should be simple, easy to navigate, and be up to date.
- The colour schemes used for backgrounds and copy should be pleasant and easy to read.
- Take into account web accessibility which ensures that those with vision impairment or dexterity challenges can use your site. This could be as simple as having an option to increase the size of the text on your website.
Keep Your Audience in Mind at All Times
Write your website content for your customers. Your content should be relevant, up-to-date, easy to read, and should convey how your products and services can be of benefit to your customers. Read more tips on web copywriting here.
Test, Test, Test
Make sure to test your website with different types of Internet connections such as cable, ADSL, and modem to see if the pages load fast. Avoid using graphic-intensive images that slow your site down without providing useful information.
Test your website with different browsers such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. You may be surprised how your web pages appear in different browsers.
Not everyone updates their browser to the latest version. It’s common that earlier versions of a browser will not properly show the content of your website. Design your website to be compatible across a wide variety of browsers and browser versions.
Test different functions on your site, such as checkout and registrations, with your customers. Ask someone to perform a specific task, and watch them to see how they fair. Do they struggle to make a purchase, or request information? Make sure the most important calls-to-action (e.g. “Buy Now” and “Contact Us”), are clearly visible on any web page.
Take Advantage of Website Analytics Tools
You can use free web analytics tools such as Google Analytics to find out how many visitors you have, how much time they spend on each of your web pages, from where they are visiting, and what sites led them to yours. Are customers leaving your site quickly? Are you getting a lot of “abandoned” shopping carts? Analytics tools can help you determine why.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Make Sure Your Customers Can Find You
Many of your customers type keywords into search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, or MSN to find products and services. Optimizing your website for search engines—making sure your site is populated with these keywords—can improve your ranking and can drive more traffic to your website. You can then take advantage of this traffic to convert regular visitors to potential repeating customers.
Marketing Online: Promoting Your Site
In order to generate online sales and traffic, you need to actively market and advertise your products and services, both online and through traditional media (print advertising, brochures, signage, etc.).
Research your market before introducing new products, services, or expanding to a new geographical region. Take advantage of online social media tools such asTwitter, Facebook, Yahoo Upcoming, and YouTube to market and raise your customers’ awareness about your products and services.
You can also advertise online on different search engines. For example, Google AdWords lets you target ads to different geographical markets based on different keywords.
Your Website is an Extension of Your Brand
The experience your customers have on your website reflects on your business; a frustrating experience on your website can diminish your brand. Not only should you make sure your brand extends to your website, you should ensure your site is designed so your customers experience a productive and enjoyable visit.
Manage Your Customer Relationships
More and more people expect to be able to interact with a company through its website. Your contact and customer service information, such as shipping and return policies, should be easy to find and understand.
To manage your interactions with your customers, you can take advantage of customer relationship management (CRM) systems. There are even free applications available, such as SugarCRM’s CRM solution.