Category Archives: Website design

6 Must Haves of Every Business Website

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smartphone with http of a well-built websiteJust cruise the web for a few minutes. So many businesses put the cart before the horse, as the old saying goes.  Business owners and managers want to take advantage of the ‘must haves’ of a solid online marketing plan (email marketing, search engine optimization, social media and content marketing) without a good foundation: a solid website.

While it sounds easy to build an excellent website, but we’ve worked with quite a few business owners terrific at what they do, but challenged when organizing and prioritizing their knowledge into a customer-friendly website. That’s where we come in, helping them organize their thoughts into a website their customers and potential customers want to visit—and a solid foundation for all their online marketing efforts.

So how can you do the same? Well, you can contact us (shameless promotion) or you can use these ‘must haves’ to create a stellar business website. No matter what industry you’re in, the basic formula for an excellent website is the same.

KISS

It’s like a bad movie that plays out again and again: overcrowded websites crammed full of graphics, disjointed text, and “stuff” that leaves potential customers running to the exit.  We can even tell you the rationale behind them: owners, managers, and teams all scrambling to get their customers’ attention about a million different products, services, and promotions with an overwhelming amount of graphics or information.  The result is a home page that challenges even the most focused person.  They don’t know where to look—or where to click.

Use the ‘KIS’ out of the old KISS adage when designing your website: keep it simple.  Have a goal for your website, and keep your home page—and every internal page—simple so your customers and potential customers can focus and know what you want them to do.  Remember your website is there to sell so you have to give them information they need and use, and a very simple mechanism for acting on it.  Help them focus on what you want them to get out of your content and the action you would like them to take. Keep it simple.

Intuitive Navigation

A website with proper organization is a valuable gem, giving your customers an intuitive navigation system (menu and links to related content) that makes it easy for them to find what they are looking for.  This is where you need to step outside your business and look at your company as a customer would look at it.  What topics do they want to know about?  Where would they look for it?

Once you have your answers, draft a chart. Don’t be afraid to use others as a sounding board to get to a finalized menu.  When we say ‘others,’ we mean people who are outside of your company (when we help owners create websites, that’s us) and use your website like a customer would.

User-friendly, Optimized, Quality Content

There are two audiences you are writing for: customers and search engines.  Customers get information from your site and buy from you, and search engines scan your website for information valuable to your customers.  When crafting an optimized website, consider both audiences (or trust your efforts to professionals that can).

To start, you need to step into a new “pair of shoes”: your customer.  Look at your content through their eyes.  Ask yourself (again): what do they want to know?  How can I organize information on the page so it is easy to read? Try to avoid big blocks of text.  Instead, break your information into smaller, easy-to-read short paragraphs.

Now, why should you worry about search engines?  Search engines are going to be one of the top sources of traffic to your site.  More than 90% of users start their search for information with a search engine.  Write accordingly with words that you think your users are going to use—without sounding like you’re trying—and use those words in your headlines.

If you want to add a “cherry on the top” to your website optimization, consider adding search engine optimization technology to your website that targets search engine users in cities and communities within 10, 20, or 50 miles around your company location.  With professionally-written optimized content and technology, local SEO technology can get your well-built company website on the first page of search engine results.  Why is that important?  Because 75% of users never click on the second page of search engine results.

(Easy-to-use) Contact Page

The goal of your website is to get customers to your door, to convert them from potential to paying customers—or to make them returning customers.  Make it easy for them to do so with an accessible contact form that is easy to fill out.  The perfect contact form is a fine line: a form with just enough fields that you can get the contact information you need to contact the customer but not too many fields that your potential customers aren’t intimidated by the form.

In addition, your contact page needs to have a second purpose: to make it easy for search engines to find your business so that customers can find your location.  Statistics have shown that more searches are being done on mobile devices than on desktops, and many of those searches are targeted at finding the location of local companies.  Make sure your hours, phone number, and address are included on the contact page for search engines and customers.

Social Proof

Study after study has shown that social proof is a key factor in customers’ purchasing decisions, making testimonials and reviews an integral part of a good website.  Your potential customers want their decision to use your company confirmed by seeing (video) or reading (text) other people’s reviews.  You can approach this in two ways: 1) by adding customer feedback to your website manually, or 2) by having reviews from your social media site feed into your site.  In addition to adding reviews to your website, make it easy for people to learn about your business (latest updates, specials, etc.) and leave reviews from their experience with your company (more social proof) through your social media channels.

Mobile-friendly

Recent numbers clearly illustrate the reason for a mobile-friendly website: nearly two-thirds of all Americans have a smart phone—and that number is expected to rise. With the increase in mobile devices also comes another important part of marketing plan: responsiveness.  Your customers and potential customers expect faster response times to their website and social media inquiries; don’t disappoint them with slow reaction times or a substandard website.

Business Marketing New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

seo image_croppedDon’t be one of the 92% of people studies say fail to keep their New Year’s resolution. You’re a business owner, you don’t have any room for failure this New Year—only room to grow your business. To accomplish that BIG New Year’s resolution, don’t feel you have to make a novel of New Year’s resolutions for your business. Instead, stick to this list of five manageable New Year’s resolution that you can keep throughout the New Year:

  • Establishing a complete online presence for your business. For many business owners, this means setting up a functional, aesthetically pleasing website and that’s it—which is an incomplete online presence, to say the least. With millions flocking to social media, your business is missing a golden opportunity to connect with your customers, and potential customers. Creating a complete online presence not only means creating a website that can be found, but also reaching out and drawing in customers through landing pages and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
  • Getting found on major search engines. Search engine optimization, SEO, is not dead. To the contrary, SEO is a valuable tool for any business looking to get found in local search results. How do you get started? Find a digital marketing company that not only promises SEO results, but achieves them—and can show you through reports. By utilizing SEO technology, customers can find your website through major search engines, connect with you through social media (which also comes up in search engine results) and contact you through your online form, email or by coming into your retail location.
  • Staying found on major search engines. Just establishing a website is a strategy that also gets your business left behind, at least in the eyes of major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. A website devoid of new content—video, articles and resources for web visitors—is a website that does not stay in the search rankings for long. Add new content to your business website and social media sites that fits the two R’s to stay on search pages—or find a digital marketing firm that can produce the content that keeps you at the top of the search engines.
  • Maintaining a social media site all year long. Finding out the best social media site for your business is step one.  Every business has a social media niche—a social media site that fits their brand based on the demographics of users. Step two is to maintain the quality content that is posted to the site. Regular updates are key to growing your social media followers, and connecting with your customers and potential customers. If you can’t maintain a social media site, outsource to social media experts who can maintain your social media site with quality posts based on the latest information.
  • Jumping into video marketing. Statistics don’t lie. A social media posting with video is 12 times more likely to be shared than a post with just text. In addition, website pages that include video are ranked higher on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing than text-only pages. Videos are your chance to show case your products and connect with your customers, giving you an edge over your competitors and a 24-7 chance to tell your story.

Don’t procrastinate fulfilling your marketing resolutions—and don’t just trust anyone with your online marketing results. Choose a company with experience who has achieved results. Contact them today, and make your New Year a happier year with online marketing results.

How Hashtags Changed Your Customers’ Online Expectations

company execSocial media has revolutionized the way businesses reach their customers. Consumers swarmed to social media, and businesses saw an opportunity to connect in a more meaningful way. The result: a change in customer expectations that every business should use when delving into the world of online marketing and social media and crafting a social media strategy. It’s one of the oldest adages of marketing, with a new twist thanks to social media: know your audience, and know what they want from you.

  • They want you to feed them relevant topics. They get updates from their friends and twerps in one long list, and expect the same from businesses. Give your customers what they want, and don’t make them search for it. They want relevant information and resources pertinent to their lives and the latest specials on products and services. They want blog and social media posts with videos, photos and text. As a whole, videos are the preferred format, which are 12x more likely to get a response than text-only posts. If you want to reach every type of consumer, “mix and match” formats (i.e. photos, apps, video, etc.), and use photos with every post to capture your customers’ attention.
  • They want updated information, and they don’t have patience for companies that can’t deliver. If you can’t give regular social media updates and blog posts, outsource to marketing experts. It’s better to have updated social media channels than irregular posts and dated information. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing.     
  • They want online customer service, and they want it fast. One survey said that consumers want a response to their inquiry within four hours, with some studies putting that number as low as one. If you have a social media channel (or channels) or contact us form on your website, your customers are going to reach out with questions. If you’re a flooring company, they ask about the type of flooring ideal for their living space. If you’re a construction company, customers can send questions about their project. They expect a response, and they expect it fast. Make sure you’re ready to give a quick response, and provide friendly customer service for those with negative comments.
  • They want you to listen! You’ve given your customers a place to express their ideas and opinions. Take the good and the bad as an opportunity to know your customers, and adapt your business to what they want. Listen to their comments, and respond with the same customer service that you offer in your office or store.
  • Give them what they want, in a mobile format for expanding smartphone usage. If you’re posting a link, make sure it’s to a mobile friendly site (and make sure your website is mobile friendly!). The number of Americans with smartphones is increasing, and they won’t wait until they get to their laptop to be able to browse your site—they’ll take their money to a more mobile-friendly site.

Every social media audience has different preferences for browsing times, so research the statistics and experiment with post and tweets to see when your highest response times are. Know your online audience, know what they want, and deliver it with the same smile and friendly service you give the customers who walk into your store.

5 Signs Your Aging Website Needs a Redesign

splash4_designAll right you admit it.  Your company’s website is a bit outdated. The kids in your pictures are married with children. Plus, the look of your site is clearly retro (and not in a good way), and users leave the site almost immediately because of the lack of functionality.

You need a new website. Bad.

If your pictures aren’t outdated, you think your business is in the clear, don’t you? However, with studies showing that people now spend more time online than watching TV, your business’ digital presence is more crucial than ever. While having an updated website used to be a luxury, now it’s more important than ever to watch for the signs of an aging website—and for good reasons:

  • Mobile users are on your site, but can they use it? With statistics putting American ownership of smartphones between one-half and two-thirds of the population, you need to be a fortune teller and look ahead. This upward trend of smartphone usage is not going to going away, and chances are it won’t decrease. You need a mobile user friendly-website.
  • You’re not listed on the first page of any search engine, or even in the top 100. Even if you can’t sell your product online, more than 90% of people start their search for a product or service using search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Having an attractive and functional website with search engine optimization technology not only allows customers to find and contact your business, but also brings them in the door. (If you don’t know how important search engine optimization is for your business, find out in our recent blog post.)
  • You need a blog. Today customers want to get to know your company through a blog, not advertising, statistics show. Show that your business is customercentric: give them the resources they need, when they need it.  Each blog post also becomes an indexed page, which gives your site a better chance of higher rankings on top search engines.
  • Even if your users find you, they can’t do anything. Today’s customers receive the latest information quickly, and expect the same of your business. Make sure they can contact you, ask for a quote and send you questions with clear calls to action throughout your website. Since you’ve given them that instant gratification, remembers it works both ways—you need to respond, and respond quickly.
  • Your website does not represent your current products or services any more. Don’t brush off outdated information. Potential customers won’t call you, or do their research on your site if they know it’s outdated.

If your website is showing these signs of age, get rid of your business’ digital grey hairs. Update the look and feel for superior aesthetics, and add the functional aspects that keep customers on your site—and coming to you time and time again.

Design your Website like…Facebook?

Approach designing your website like you approach social media

Approach designing your website like you approach social media

With the latest statistics putting the average user’s online time at 5 hours per day, it’s clear people are surfing through social media and websites. And the more we browse, the more we find the bad apples: websites that, though pretty, do not function. You can’t find what you need. The navigation is confusing. Or worse, you find bad links.

Is it the creator’s fault?  Often not, as they are looking at a website as a marketing piece where they can push their information out to customers and potential customers.

However, we’re going to suggest a game-changing approach to designing websites. Look at your website like you’d look at social media. Look at it like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Social media is all about conversations, and if you’re utilizing your pages, profiles or whatever social media site you’re on correctly, you’re carrying on conversations with your audience. You’ve figured out what their questions are, what “inside information” they want and what fun posts they enjoy. It’s easy to connect with people when you’ve figured out what they are talking about (or thinking about) already.

Approach designing your website in the same way. What do they want to know?  What questions are they asking (have they asked any of your social media sites)? What do they respond to graphically? And how can they find that information easily and logically, without a lot of effort?

Often, it makes sense to have someone (or several people) not familiar with your business take the wheel. Mock up a website with navigation, then have a friend or relative go through it. Ask them: what questions do you have? Did you find the information easily?

Their answers might surprise you. After all, it’s hard to look at something from the outside when you’ve poured your heart and soul into it. Take their answers and design the page so it’s functional for anyone visiting your website.

Don’t stop there. Ask your customers as they come in or as you are talking to them on the phone: “have you visited our website?” “What did you think of it?” “Is there anything we could improve?”

Don’t take their answers personally. Their feedback is not a black eye, it’s the opportunity to improve your site, and make it easier to navigate for your valued customers. And when a site is easier to navigate, you get more business.

Evaluating a website is probably one of the most overlooked, or never done parts of website design. Remember, you always have the chance to make your website more functional, user friendly, and ready for potential sales. That’s functionality every customer, and business, can enjoy.

Less is more? 3 Guides for Your Strategic Online Marketing Equation

splash8_socialYou’re a business owner and customers are the core of your business. How can you serve them better? Give them value? Make their experience with your business enjoyable?

Use that same customer-centric approach when setting an online marketing plan for your business (or find someone who does). And, though it seems to go against your natural business owner intuition, mix this into the equation for your marketing plan: less is more.

Let’s get one thing straight: that doesn’t mean you don’t need to embrace the exciting new online marketing tools you see around you. To the contrary, a functional website and solid social media presence are “must haves” for every business looking to market online (after all, that’s where customers are nowadays). What it does mean is to be strategic—for you and for your clients.

While you need to be a part of your customer’s online experience (notice part, not all), try not to be their only online experience, and a bad one at that. Let’s be honest: we’ve all unfriended someone, or a business, because they are posting TOO MUCH or giving us junk we don’t need. Nobody loves a loudmouth.

Sounds like a really complicated equation, doesn’t it? However, scheduling and creating information for your customer is simple if you use three guidelines: be regular, valuable and strategic.

Be Regular
Regular posts and updates fuel people’s interest and show your business has a presence. People judge your business by not only what you put on social media and your website, but also how often. Many a potential customer has left an outdated website in disgust.

Be Valuable
Give value to your customers. That not only applies to your products, but also to the content, posts and tweets you put online. Don’t waste their time (and your time). Give them content they really need so they value your updates. Sometimes it’s valuable to give them a smile—and it’s good to show you care—but don’t only put “cutsies” up. Show you care sometimes, give them updates sometimes and give them value ALWAYS. Give your customers what they want. That’s how you operate your business and how you market online.

We can’t tell you exactly what your customers want. You have to find that out from your interactions, both online and in person.

Be strategic
Being strategic is mixing together the two points above. Your goal is to avoid buyer’s remorse for your customers. Just like you don’t want them to regret buying your product or service, you don’t want them to regret following your online updates. Know what your customers want, and give them regular and valuable information without overwhelming them. When you regularly push information out, make sure it’s valuable. Don’t waste their time, and don’t waste yours. Quality is more important than quantity. Less is more.

Online marketing plans are equations, and each business needs a different equation. However, if you use these three guidelines for your online marketing equation, and find the right content to add together, the sum of all the parts creates a valuable product for you and your customers.

 

Amid all the changes, keep your digital marketing simple

Overwhelmed by digital marketing? Keep it simple.

Overwhelmed by digital marketing? Keep it simple.

At KD Interactive, our business is digital.  Web design, social media marketing, search engine optimization…our services all have one commonality: they CHANGE.

Think back to the start of the internet and fast forward to where it is now.  It hasn’t just evolved by hosting significantly more content or being able to do more, the location of your internet has changed.  We’ve gone from having to sit down at a computer to having access anywhere on our phones.

So with all the changes, and online evolutions, you might think that the formula for providing a user-friendly experience for your online customers is complicated.  However, it’s more important than ever to keep your digital marketing simple.

It’s only complicated if you make it complicated.  If you approach digital marketing as a “we need to do it all!” approach, you’re end goal, being user-friendly, is going to fail.  Keep it simple.

Think of digital marketing as more of a step-by-step process.  First you want your clients to do this for awhile, then that , then that and on and on.  You don’t have to do it all at once.  That’s the greatest thing about the web (I would argue): you can change the content as trends evolve and as your goals changes.

Let’s apply this to web design, which starts with a simple question: “What is the purpose of your website? What do you want people to do?”  Too often, clients say “I want them to do this and this and this and this and….”  The end result of that approach is a website littered with events, products, twitter feed, news articles, updates, and a potential customer that’s lost.  They don’t know where to go first, or how to find what they want.

Keep it simple.  Websites—and other digital marketing tools—should be designed so that folks understand what you want them to do.  Start with a goal like, “I want them to browse our summer products” then create a webpage that is simple and nudges them in that direction.  A bit later, if you want people to sign up for your email list, change your home page slightly so they know how to make that happen.

You don’t have to eliminate their opportunity to browse your products.  Keep it simple.  Have a simple menu with easy navigation, but have the main focus—and the featured image—point them to your purpose.  What do you want them to do?  Keep it simple.

At the end of the day, everything digital changes and evolves.  The formula for creating a customer-friendly digital experience, however, stays simple.