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    Divine Creative Design - graphic design, website, search engine optimisation
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WEBSITES THAT WORK

Is there a business out there these days that doesn't have a website? There wouldn't be many! But there are plenty of businesses with old, tired and out-of-date websites. And worse still, websites that are impossible to find on the internet, don't generate business or sales leads, and don't reflect the good work and good name that the owner has been trying hard to build up.

A business’ website is arguably going to be your most important marketing asset. If you haven’t updated your website in the last 3 years then redesigning your website should be paramount in the near future. Technology has changed enormously in the last few years and your potential customers are accessing websites from mobile devices, tablets and iPads, so it is very important that your website is responsive to all devices and looks good when viewed from any electronic device.

t is one thing to have a website, and another thing to possess a site that is working for you. A website that sells your products, communicates your business strategy, creates new business leads, emanates your company image, and works hard for your business when you’re not even there. Imagine such a dedicated employee working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Well that is what your website could be doing for you, as long as there is someone looking at it!

How many people have paid designers to build fabulous sites for their business, that do little more than sit there... stale, uninspiring and worse yet, no traffic. As a design agency, naturally we prefer that a website be visually engaging, easy to navigate and in line with your company image. But for a website to gain high traffic it must also be rich in content. What is the common thing that all web users are looking for when they get onto the internet? Information, answers to their problems and solutions.

HAVE A CLEAR PLAN
So when starting a website from scratch, or overhauling an existing site, you must have a very clear plan and an overall layout before you start! Planning is everything.

The graphic content of your site must be in line with your company image and project the same, consistent visual identity in line with your branding. With websites, clean uncluttered pages that are easy to read and navigate work best. Overly clever websites you need to download programs for, or that take minutes to upload are annoying. Fonts that are hard to read or images that are too large to load are also very irritating to the average visitor.

If you haven't got the design, layout and navigation of your site right first, it doesn't matter how you promote it, business will not flow from it.

'Clever' flash-built websites were very popular 5 years ago, now however it is really only used sparingly to enhance a website layout. It also has the distinct disadvantage of not being able to be viewed on smart phones or on iPads, so the use of Flash in website building has become virtually obsolete.

Too many graphic files can also substantially slow your sited own. The relationship between information content and visual content has to be balanced out, so if it takes too long to download the images from the net, the viewer will just impatiently click away to another site that is easier to use.

Search engines also struggle with 'reading' a flash built site or a website that is heavy on picture graphics. They read and rank words, not images, so proceed with great caution if you still want a flash website, because it will not be ranked as well with search engines. And there is no point spending energy, time and money on a site that is a dinosaur.

TURN YOUR KNOWLEDGE INTO HIGH QUALITY INFORMATION
Consider this, when a potential customer or client is on-line they are generally not looking for you. They are looking for information, and they are happy to take that from anybody. So give your viewer what they want. Turn your specific industry knowledge into a high quality, informative resource. Not just company information, but useful, specialised industry related topics that add value and relevance to your website.

Give your potential clients a reason to find you and stay with you and even to return to your website. Give them the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship and utilise your expertise. The more information and advice you give away for free, the more you will gain in the long run. Future clients who are prepared to pay for your expert services or products will have already developed a respect and an understanding of your services just from regularly visiting your site.

SEARCH ENGINES
Another advantage to having a website rich in content is that it will be perceived in a more favourable light by search engines.
The higher your web site’s ranking, the more traffic you will attract. Website content is one of the main criteria for determining a site’s rank. And with a high ranking, all of a sudden your business becomes exposed to a magnitude of viewers you never thought possible, all without spending a cent on advertising.

E-NEWSLETTERS AND BLOG CAMPAIGNS
Another great tool to making your website work better for your business is to develop an ongoing e-newsletter marketing campaign
and to have a blog. The benefits to your business are endless. Firstly you are building a data base of potential customer/clients who you can keep informed of upcoming promotions and specials, and secondly you are also establishing a positive ongoing relationship with your potential customer. And thirdly, by distributing an e-newsletter monthly or bi-monthly, in conjunction with a regular online blog, you will also instate top-of-mind recognition with the recipient.

Other websites include the ever increasing e-commerce web sites. It is commonly reported that a person will visit a website up to seven times before deciding to purchase products from that site. Ask yourself if someone would be motivated to return to your site a second time, let alone seven. Do you offer anything in your website that would keep them coming back? (Such as up-to-the minute information, competitions, stock that continually updated, or industry-related updates that are valuable to the viewer).

NICHE MARKETS
One thing to consider if you have an on-line shop, is it to tap into a niche market
. Find a niche market relevant to your product or service that isn’t being serviced well, and then go for it. Become the expert in that field, provide lots of free information, and then watch your ranking climb and your traffic increase.

VIDEO MARKETING
There are many supporting mechanisms that will further enhance your site, and create engagement and a sense of being an expert in your field. Tools such as video marketing can be very successful. many people prefer to watch videos online than read a whole block of text. In fact, internet users these days have so many options available to them they don’t even bother reading articles or copy in depth anymore and prefer to scan pages on a topic. This is why online engagement is now a crucial part of any business, and video is the best way to grab a visitor’s interest.

SOCIAL MEDIA
Another powerful and relatively new form of engagement you must add to your website, are your activities with social media. In this age of technology, social media has become a vital aspect of marketing your business or organisation. There are around 600 million Facebook users in the world, of which spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the site. Twitter alone has over 145 million users globally, and YouTube claim over 2 billion videos are watched daily on their site.

These figures are overwhelming, and should be enough to convince you that social media is important for your business. If you’re not a part of the social media bandwagon, now is the time to jump on.
Social media is a powerful tool that creates conversations, connections and sharing of information. When used correctly in business, it can be very successful.

To make it easy for people to find and interact with your social media profiles via your website.


• Put Social Icons on Your Website – Let visitors to your website know that you are engaging with your audience on social media as well by adding social icons to your website design. The most common places to place them include the header / menu bar, sidebar, and footer. You can also incorporate ‘share this’ icons on your website to link images back to Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook.

• Put Social Links in Your Communications – Do you send emails regularly? Add social links to your email signature. Do you send newsletters? Add social icons to them.

• Make Your Profiles Search Friendly – If I Google your brand name + Twitter, I should get your Twitter handle in the search results.

PRIVACY
Another issue concerning website browsers is privacy. All websites should have a privacy policy at the forefront of their website. For example, “We respect your privacy and never rent or sell our database to any other person or company not associated directly with our business”. If you have an e-newsletter or offer email updates, give the recipient a very easy opt out clause. It is the fear of being inundated by spam that makes visitors to any site hesitate at subscribing to an e-newsletter. Therefore be very clear on your privacy policies and abide by them. Uninvited email correspondence can damage your reputation, is not good website etiquette and is actually illegal.

DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME
To sum it all up plainly and simply, if you get your website content, layout, viewer engagement through enewsletters, blogs and social media, and target niche markets right the first time, and then concentrate on selling your product, the rest will fall into place.

And last but not least, a website that works well, should look good. It reflects your corporate image, the colour scheme is flattering, the fonts and layout is consistent, the download time is efficient and it is easy to navigate.

The beauty of presenting your company within a website is that you can actually compete with large multinational companies, even if you are a husband and wife team operating from the kitchen table! It is all about perception and quality. Offer a fabulous service, an excellent product, fast delivery and competitive pricing and you will reach your market. You just need to make sure that your website is high in informed content and reflects the company image you’ve worked so hard to achieve. A website that works should be your company’s greatest asset, not a white elephant.

Melissa Robson
Director, Divine Creative Design


We welcome you to use this article on your own website, however we ask that you credit us clearly with an obvious link back to our website.
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