Top 10 Do’s of Website Design:
- Develop and expand on your unique and valued difference: Think of your website, as your ambassador on call greeting prospective clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In order to make a strong first impression, it would need to be extensively informed by the vision, values and benefits that drive your firm.
- Connect graphic design and language to your unique and valued difference: Consider color, font, illustrations and language style to be tools, which, when in the hands of talented marketers and graphic designers, enable connection with your target market by way of the strategic difference offered by your firm.
- Repeat a consistent call to action on key pages of your website: Invite visitors to behave the way you want them to, consistently, and they will be more likely to do so e.g. sign up for our seminar or call for an initial consultation. You can go a step further and create a call to action designed to reinforce your point of difference.
- Identify appropriate keywords and keyphrases: Your search engine optimization strategy will be driven by two factors: keywords and inbound links. Effective selection of keywords to be incorporated prominently throughout the website will be dependent on your understanding of the specific search terms used by your target audience, when searching for your services or related information, online.
- Optimize density of keywords, on a page by page basis: Think of your keywords as a method by which you can catalog your website in order to be easily found by Google and other search engines. Repeating keywords on specific pages of your website will enable search engines to know that your website is an appropriate match for searches on that topic.
- Generate quality inbound links: The number and quality of websites listing live links to your website will, at least in part, tell Google and other search engines how important your website is for that search term.
- Invite visitors to subscribe to your mailing list: Traffic to your website is an opportunity to generate a targeted list of prospective clients for distribution of a newsletter. If visitors found your website at an early stage of interest, a newsletter would be an opportune way of staying in touch and demonstrating expertise until such time that they are ready to pursue their interest further.
- Distribute your e-newsletter to an opt in only mailing list: Canadian anti-spam rules and regulations are getting clearer and stricter. In order to follow best practice, ensure that everyone has formally opted in to your mailing list.
- Ensure that you have permission to use photos and / or music: Stock photos and music will usually involve credit, purchase and / or royalties. If, on the other hand, you take your own photos, you would need to ensure that you have permission to use them, if you can identify any people in the background.
Top 10 Don’ts of Website Design:
- Employ black hat methods (e.g. spamming, keyword stuffing, cloaking, link farms): Where there is a will there is a way to find shortcuts. Shortcuts to search engine optimization results are, however, considered unethical and are not recommended. Google and other search engines are aware of these techniques and, in some instances, will ban a websites for life for employing them.
- Make it hard to find your phone number: Once interested in contacting your firm, the visitor should not have to dig for your contact information. To make it really easy to find, you can list your phone number on every page of your website and even in your meta tags, which will ensure that it is included in the description of your website in search results.
- Clutter or disorganize content: Your website and each page of your website should be driven by your marketing objectives. In order to deliver on these objectives, each page will need to have a clear hierarchy of information such that you are controlling, to some extent, what the reader sees first, second and third.
- Disorient visitor: Think of your website as an underground parking lot, where it is easy to get lost without the assistance of identifiable landmarks. In order to help your visitor stay oriented, make sure it is obvious which section and which page they are on, at any given time.
- Create inconsistencies: Yes, it is important to be creative with your marketing campaign but creativity should not be confused with the need to continually reinvent your firm on every page and paragraph of your website. The story you tell must always be consistent and, in most marketing campaigns, that will involve a certain degree of repetition, which will communicate your commitment and sincerity.
- Include unnecessary clicks: Visitors will get frustrated if they have to do more work than what they deem necessary to find information on your website. Unnecessary clicking could lead to early exits.
- Separate or change your navigation bar: The navigation bar is key to helping visitors understand the overview of the content on your website. If you separate portions of your navigation, it will give them an incomplete picture. If you change the navigation bar from section to section, it will only serve to cause confusion.
- Use any potentially negative associations: Marketing is loaded with cultural and emotional associations. Before launching a website or other marketing campaign, test your creative concepts to be certain that you have not, inadvertently, used an acronym, a phrase or an image that has an unintended, negative association.
- Assume performance is on track: In order to ensure your website is aligned with your marketing objectives, you will need to develop key performance indicators to track performance. You can set up a website statistics tracker to help you measure some of these indicators.
- Forget your target market: Write for your audience, not your peers. Avoid jargon, unless appropriate or defined. Select a language style consistent with the identity of your firm. Lastly, consider how your audience will use your website. If you expect them to visit on a seasonal basis, you might want to update your website accordingly with news or events from your firm.
This list of 20 do’s and don’ts of website design is meant to help architects, engineers, naturopaths, accountants and other professionals sort through the early stage of a first experience with website design. Though this information is not part of the standard curriculum for most professional practices, it is important to recognize that in order to reflect your firm’s authentic identity, your website will require your involvement, whether or not you are working with a marketing firm.
Related articles: The Trusted Website Designer, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and How to Write Optimized Copy for Robots and Humans.