The bottom line is that your website should be strategically planned and executed. Whether you contact a web design agency or actually do decide to build your own website with a CMS, be prepared to devote as much time as necessary to developing the plan for the website and to seeing the design process through to completion.
As you launch into the planning phase, don’t underestimate the importance of defining your goals and target audience or determining the ideal structure and content organization of your website. This attention to detail will save you both time and resources and allow you to focus on your business goals.
Defining Your Goals and Target Audience
The first step toward planning an exemplary eCommerce website is defining your goals and target audience. Solidifying these details is a critical key to designing an effective website because they will allow you to cater to your strengths.
What goals have you envisioned for your website? Depending on what they are, your website should feature different traits. Here are some examples:
- A Brand page should strengthen the brand’s identity and inform visitors about the history of the company and its values.
- A Portfolio page should raise awareness of the artist and his or her work and keep fans updated on relevant news.
- An eCommerce page should aim to sell products.
- A Service page should explain the history and goals of the organization and show visitors how to get involved.
- A Support page should provide assistance to the community and customers.
- A Marketing page should generate leads and interest from potential new customers.
One you have defined your goals, you need to identify your target audience. As human beings, we tend to try to please everyone, but that’s just not feasible in the world of online business. Instead, you need to decide who you want to reach out to with your site. The easiest way to do that is to identify who your products appeal to most. Who buys your products? What is the average age of your target audience? What is their online behavior — what pages do they visit and how much do they spend online?
Organizing Your Content
The navigation tree of your website is of strategic importance to the usability and goals of your site. Can your visitors find what they are looking in a maximum of three clicks? That is your challenge.
But what are they looking for?
Make a list of possibilities: contact and product information, maps and directions, company history, production details, blog articles, and product pages.
After you have decided which elements to include, organize them by importance and try to draw out a navigational plan with five to seven visible links in the top menu. Keep in mind that it is important not to overwhelm visitors. Instead, make the information easy to locate.
You would also do well to create a detailed game plan for producing and publishing editorial content to your website’s blog.
Why is it important to maintain an interesting blog? Because the corporate blog is a powerful and effective branding tool, providing visibility in search engines and directing traffic to the company site. A nice-looking website that also provides helpful advice and up-to-date information on relevant issues motivates its visitors to return often — and to spread the word about the company.
It is well within your company’s benefits for you to publish blog articles about new products, production methods, promotional rates, and collaborations. But to accomplish all of this, you need an editorial game plan. Once you have decided who you’ll primarily be talking to and what you want to communicate to them, decide how you want to communicate that information and with what frequency.
Designing Your Website
Once you have determined the goals and organizational structure of your website, it’s time to start building your page. There are a number of important elements to consider, but perhaps none so important as your logo, color, font, and text size choices.
We’re sure we don’t need to advise you to hire a professional graphic designer to create your logo. If you have already designed a company logo, you should simply build your site around your logo’s color scheme and formatting.
Unless you’re a comic book artist, avoid bright, contrasting colors in your site design. Vibrant, flashy hues tend to overwhelm viewers and make your text difficult to read. On a similar note, be aware that background images are not ideal for all types of websites. For example, on an eCommerce website, background imagery can distract viewers away from a company’s products.
Your font choices will also make a distinct difference in the success or failure of your website. Using clunky a Serif font or a juvenile font like Comic Sans will see your customers laughing your company right out of e-retail. Instead, choose clean and professional fonts — and don’t use more than three per page. Have any text that you enter onto your website checked and re-checked for grammar and spelling errors and develop an uncompromising and consistent text and title sizing formula. The more consistent your website looks, the better.
Depending on the type of website that you have chosen to build, here are some additional things to remember for each type of site:
For a stellar brand page, choose images and an overall design that represent the values of your brand. It’s unthinkable not to display your logo in a very prominent place in your layout. On that note, be certain that your logo is professional and consistent with your branding and site design.
To wow viewers by the quality of your portfolio, you need to design a website that best displays your work. We recommend that you choose a modern, wide template that provides the least amount of distraction as possible with hidden navigation. Avoid the classic structure of the sidebar site and experiment with the one-page design. Use an evocative photo on the landing page to inspire viewers with your talent and creativity from the start.
For an appealing ecommerce website, avoid using background images that distract viewers from your products. Instead, select a large, clean template with a simple navigational structure that is inspired by the categories of products in your store.
When designing an effective service-oriented page, make sure to allow for ample space to display images that highlight your services. However, avoid using images in the background of your pages, since busyness is distracting for viewers.
Effective support pages help clients and fans understand how to get the most out of your products or services. Therefore, it’s important to include tutorials and guides that provide everyday advice, as well as technical support for solving basic problems. It is also important to create a contact form, since this will make it easy for customers to connect with you.
In marketing, nothing is more important than having powerful imagery that will cause viewers to be interested in your products or services. However, once you have hired a photographer or captured and edited the photos yourself, you’ll need to think about a few other things to create a successful marketing website. Use external links very strategically, since you don’t want to direct viewers away from your content. Also make sure to provide contact details or a contact page that potential customers can use to connect with you.
Building your website
Now that you’ve thoroughly planned out your website, find a way to make it into a reality. Build the site yourself by choosing your favorite CMS or contact a web design agency to code for you. Both are viable options that can fit within most budgets.
Just remember: before you actually begin to build your website, it’s critically important that you set clear goals and strategically plan the layout. Catering to your target audience will guide you to creating a successful page.
And don’t forget to have fun!