websiteRecently, having rebranded, I needed a new website – it was essential to really show off my work.

In designing the new site I had to initially decide why I needed it, what I actually wanted it to do and what was its purpose going to be?

I designed and built my previous website (as Angieandco) quite a few years ago in Dreamweaver, it had no relevant or useful SEO. At the time all I knew was that I needed a web presence. It was put together to show a range of my work but had no clear call to action or really any text about who I was or what I did. it didn’t really do me justice but it was a start.

Over the passed few years, and learning more about SEO and internet traffic, I updated it as far as I could but nothing to make that much difference. The site was generally a window or a gallery to send people to look at my work. I think the only thing it generated was ‘spam’!

So… I wanted a new website…

My reasons Why…

The existing site was dated, ineffectual and was not working for me at all.
With my new branding I wanted a new website, aiming to communicate what I could do and had done for previous clients.

What did I want it to do?

• Mainly to showcase my work in an easy to navigate and attractive way.
• I wanted it to impress would-be clients and demonstrate the work I had done for other businesses.
• It had have a personal element and tell people who I was, a bit about me and how I worked.
• It had to have an integrated blog site.
• Generate a database of contacts who were interested in my design style and the services I offered.
• To be able to add pages and update the content as and when I required.

– I’m a control freak and have to know how things work or why they don’t!
May be I should have told the Developer this bit at the beginning! – sorry!

However, lets be honest, the only real reason we all want a web presence, is to generate leads and business!

It really must generate interest and convert leads to customers – and sell!

How does a website begin to generate interest and sell?

Content…that is the answer – Relevant, interesting, engaging and finally it must promote the reaction or action that you want.

Putting together the content is a big job in itself and often important information can be forgotten which can impact on cost when added at a later date. You can’t always be objective as far as content is concerned and I probably haven’t been!

Good copy. Don’t blind the reader with technical information or try to impress with ‘big’ words to look clever. Using a professional copywriter is ideal and will be cost effective in the long run, as I said, relevant, concise and informative.

hand reaching images streaming from the deep

Organise the information into logical sections that you want to appear on the website.

Use your own images, if possible, too many stock images are a giveaway, photos of the actual people or the products promote identification and encourage trust.

 

Keep your branding consistent as with any of your marketing material.

Starting with a basic map of essential pages and sections, this helps the developer to arrange and plan how to build the proposed content into a working, functional site that will do what you want it to do and be easy to navigate for visitors. Over complicated websites will most likely be counterproductive and the bounce rate will be high as no one will bother to stay long enough to work it out!

Remember  – while the building blocks and the structure is down to the web developer, the content required is down to you! The web developer can’t build an all singing all dancing web site with no content!

This list will hopefully be useful for compiling the content you need and as a check list to ensure your website has all the necessary elements that ensure usability and of course increase the SEO.

Certain points on this list are debatable and as a designer I would be flexible on positioning of graphic elements but bow to those who have stats of tried and tested results! Of course websites will need to be constantly updated and always work-in-progress!

This is only a guide and if I have left off anything that should be prominent please add your comments.

  1. Logo on left linked to home page (mine is on the right)
  2. Search box on top right (if you want one)
  3. Prominent contact details above the fold!! (not always possible)
  4. Landline & address increases trust & belief for legitimate business
  5. Good relevant Content
  6. Bespoke images if possible
  7. Testimonials for social proof
  8. Call to action
  9. Readable text – size & text to background contrast font size & spacing
  10. Not too much flash
  11. Links to relevant pages
  12. Consistent style of links
  13. Good navigation
  14. Clear navigation labels
  15. Sharing buttons for social media
  16. Accreditations pictures delivering trust signals (staff and employees)
  17. Copyright symbols
  18. Analytics tracking codes installed
  19. Images with alt tags
  20. Keywords as file names
  21. Friendly URLS
  22. HTML page title makes sense
  23. Only one H1 on any page
  24. Integrated blog page with comment facility
  25. Mobile Responsive

Ensure there is a good load time – it is said that you should be able to view and take in a good Homepage in 5 seconds, if not the chances are you will lose that traffic straight away!

Keeping all these points in mind your website should tick all the right boxes and start working for you. Hindsight however is a wonderful thing but luckily amendments can always be made if an essential element is missing or forgotten although too many and it either gets costly or your web developer starts to get very red in the face or refuses to answer your calls!

I hope this article helps with the planning and design of your website. If I have left out anything important or you have any more tips email me!

 

of A.N.G Creative Design, based in Essex, UK, helping you communicate your message to your clients and generating more leads and sales.

 

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