Creating a business website is about navigating the tension between what you want to tell your audience and what your audience expects to learn from you. This is why so many business websites don’t live up to expectations – yours or theirs!
To create the perfect business website, you need to understand 3 important things: how your audience will want to use your site, your audience’s expectations and how to make your site recognizably your brand. But you also need to put this understanding into practice.
So, what are the 3 major mistakes you need to avoid?
User experience, or UX, is absolutely essential for any website, software or gadget. The more obvious you can make navigation, the easier it will be to persuade visitors through the conversion funnel of your website, whether that means making a purchase or getting in touch.
The main problem with usability is that what you think is perfectly obvious may not be so obvious to other users. This is the major downfall that businesses stumble into and one of the main reasons why you should never try to test your own software or website – especially if you aren’t your main target audience!
A good option is to use a user experience testing tool. This will help you to see what your visitors are doing on the site and analyze their behavior. From here, you can modify the site to ensure that your audience are taking the route you want them too and can navigate the site well. But don’t just do this once, usability should be a regular check, keeping up with changing trends and fluctuating needs. There is always something that can be improved upon and it is your job to find increasingly obscure problems to solve.
As a general rule, usability should focus on ease of navigation, scannable content and load speed. There are lots of tips to help you improve usability but ultimately the main thing is this: your customers must be able to use your website naturally, quickly and easily. If anything gets in the way of that, you have a problem.
Assuming You Know Your Audience
When you come up with your business idea and work out what your products and services are, you probably have an audience in mind. This is great but often the audience business owners think they have and the one they actually get is slightly different. While you may have a good idea of who they are in theory, you must back that theory up with research of who they are in practice.
Doing some audience research is a great way to refine your website content and ensure that it is hitting the mark. It might surprise you but actually asking your audience what they are looking for is a good way to find out what they want. Most people are quite happy to do a quick survey and no-one will think less of you for asking a few questions. In fact, audiences are likely to respect you more because you are asking for their opinion.
Another thing to bear in mind is that your audience will change as you refine your business and go in new directions. You will never have mass appeal that covers the whole population, so be prepared to choose a small segment of society and target them specifically. The best way to do this is to create a couple of audience profiles and then split test your content and marketing campaigns to see which gets the strongest results. This kind of A/B split testing is a common approach and will give you better evidence for how to approach future campaigns.
Confusing Your Branding
Your branding is an essential part of your business because it forms the shorthand agreement with your customers that when they deal with you, they know what they are going to get. As entrepreneur.com says, ‘it’s a promise to your customers’.
The problem many businesses face is that they don’t create branding that can easily cross platforms and be recognizable in any type of media. Even a change in voice or a slightly different palette of colors can completely change the way your brand comes across so it’s vital that you think things through before you start posting.
Having a set of brand guidelines is essential. Even if just one person is writing, posting and designing campaigns right now, you can be sure that as you grow, you will need to have the tools in place to scale your content while maintaining consistency across every outlet. This is much easier to organize while you are just putting a few pieces of content out each week than having to go back over everything when you could be putting out hundreds of pieces of content each week.
Having different branding for each platform can also confuse your website – if there is no consistency between the link a customer has clicked on social media with the branding they are now looking at, how can they trust what they are seeing? Consistency might not feel like a big deal to you as a business owner but think about it from the customer’s point of view and you will share those same concerns.
Some of the major mistakes business owners make are easily resolved and avoided in the first place. You just need to remember that you are not creating a site for yourself – you are creating a site for your customer and target audience. Once you understand this, the rest should fall into place.
Usability, audience and branding are the three central pillars to any great marketing campaign too so expand the knowledge you gain building your website and use it to inform your marketing strategies too. Remember that everything you learn can and should be applied to as many areas of your business as possible. Taking a holistic approach is always the best way to grow and develop any business and the more you learn, the more you will be able to do. Knowledge is power.