In almost every industry, you have a wide range of people to choose from, when selecting a supplier. You have the inexperienced start-ups, to the well-established and experienced professionals… and everything in between. Web design, is one of those industries that literally anyone can start up, claim to be an expert, and start taking money off people in exchange for a website of some sort.
The problem is, many of these so-called experts don’t really know anything about marketing.
I never claimed to be an expert when I was starting out, but I knew one thing: I didn’t know anything about marketing.
I was a developer, and had always been a techie, never a marketing man.
So when I started out, offering web design services from my home in Southend in 2007, I simply focused on selling what I knew: great quality websites that were built on rock-solid principles and amazing code. The result? They were always W3 Compliant (I don’t know anyone that boasts about that these days, mostly because virtually all sites aren’t compliant…) but there was a reason for that.
You see… back in the early 2000’s, HTML was in the early days of evolving, from being a markup language used primarily to display data and format informational websites, to being something that was purely used as a marketing tool. The result, people wanted to get stuff to display in weird and wonderful ways… but because web browsers were so wildly different, you had masses of cross compatibility issues (and to be fair, it was mostly Internet Explorer’s fault…)
So making sure your code was W3 compliant was something to be proud of, it meant your website adhered to standards which meant that theoretically it would display nicely on all browsers. Not always the case but… you get my point.
Anyway… fast forward to now, and the industry is nothing like it was…. but there are still the “cowboys”. Instead of using Adobe Flash to build an entire website, they’re using WYSIWYG website builders or similar. The problem with these, is both the code they output and the hosting environment they’re on are not going to help your marketing campaign. You might still get great results from it, but if you had a equivalent site built in WordPress with clean code, and on a premium hosting platform – you’d get better results.
The other problem with website builders is they tend to “fudge” a lot of the browser compatibility and mobile responsiveness. The end result is, you get a lot of weirdness a lot of the time.
I’m not saying you explicitly shouldn’t use a company that utilises website builders rather than their own platform, but I’d be cautious. So here are my tips ‘n tricks, to be aware of and look out for:
- Headline / Call To Action
Your website headline is one of the most important. Make sure it not only makes it crystal clear what you do, but entices people in further to your website. It should make them want to read more. Saying something along the lines of “Welcome to ABC” is not a good headline. Also, make sure your website always has a good, solid call to action. Try to make it something other than “get a quote” or “get a call back”… if you can offer free resources, downloads, or anything similar, you’ll get more people contacting you over time than you would if it was a simple “get a quote”.
Whilst I am vehemently against website builders, because the code they output is awful, the main metric you should use to measure your sites performance is speed. Take a look at tools.pingdom.com and put in your site to see how well it performs. If it takes more than 3 seconds to load, you’re most likely losing over 53% of your visitors when they’re on mobile (that’s a Google statistic!).
People often think the website content has to be all about them. To showcase their business in the best possible light, and detail all their services so that people can find out everything they want before getting in touch. The thing is, that’s not what people want. People want to be reassured they’re in the right place, yes… but how you’ll convert more people than ever before, is by making sure that your website attacks their “pain points” and offers a solution. What are the burning problems that your product/service solves? Make THAT your headline.
Making sure your website has many easy ways for people to interact with you is important. Some people like to message on Facebook messenger, some people like to use contact forms, some people like to pick up the phone… ultimately whatever you do, make sure your website has a super fast, super easy way for people to get in touch.
This is tied into speed quite heavily, but it’s important enough to be separated. Where your website is hosted is crucial. I’ve seen businesses in the UK using hosting that’s based in Europe (Spain), and further afield like USA. If your business is in the UK, and targeting the UK, your hosting should be in the UK. This isn’t some “patriotic” reasoning, it’s simple logic. If you’re hosting abroad, it might be cheap – but you’ll be adding valuable seconds to the load time of your site. In addition, what’s as important as speed is uptime/availability. That is to say, you need a RELIABLE hosting company that you can trust to ensure your website is always up and online.