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Make your website your number one marketing tool

Your website is one of your most valuable marketing tools. It’s always on and working for your business, 24/7, 365. A well-designed, effective website:

  • Ensures that prospects and visitors get a great first impression of your business;
  • Enables visitors to interact and engage with your business; and 
  • Allows customers to access information about your business, anytime, anywhere.

In this three-part series, we’ll explore ways to help make sure your website is your business’ best marketing tool.

  1. First impressions: What does your website say about your business?
  2. Driving engagement: Get your website visitors to interact with your business
  3. Leveraging technology: Optimize for mobile and SEO

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: What does your website say about your business?

Your website is the face of your business. First impressions are crucial, and they’re formed in a split second (Harvard 2013). Your website is often the first interaction potential clients, customers, and investors have with you. As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  What does your website convey about who you are and what you do? 

Three basic elements influence users’ first impression: visual appeal, content, and navigation. Each element plays a unique and important role, and how well these elements work together will influence how long a user will remain on your website. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to get your message and take action. Turn them off, and they’re gone from your site within seconds, likely never to return.

Let’s take a look at each of these three elements in more detail. 

1. Visual Appeal 
Design has the biggest impact on the first impression your company makes through its website.  Research has shown that first impressions are 94% design-related.  Three-quarters of the visitors to your site are judging how credible your business is by the look and feel of your website (Stanford Web Credibility Research). If your website is visually appealing, your business is more likely to be perceived as trustworthy (Harvard 2013).

What makes a website visually appealing? 

  • Good visual design: Colors, fonts, and graphics should accurately represent your brand and organization. Simple, uncluttered layouts are more user-friendly.
  • Consistency: The design should be consistent throughout the website and with your other branded marketing materials.
  • Photography: Images have the power to grab users’ attention and draw them in. Images should be used purposefully and be relevant, clear, and professionally shot whenever possible. 
  • Movement: Videos, slide shows, and other simple animations can add interest and draw visitors’ attention. Use of videos has been increasing, and many people would rather watch a short (1-2 minutes) video than read text.

It’s important to keep in mind that standards of web design change quickly. Even if your site is only a few years old, it may already look outdated. Your business isn’t behind the times, so don’t give potential customers the impression that it is. Freshening up your design and content as visitors’ expectations evolve can enhance the perception of your company.

2. Content 
Your website needs to be more than just a pretty face. You only have 2-4 seconds to engage new visitors.  If they can’t find the information they’re looking for, they won’t stick around, no matter how great the design is. Your content needs to be clear, concise, and on target. 

Your visitors came to your website looking for information. They expect your content to be up-to-date and relevant to their needs. When was the last time you reviewed the content on your website? If it’s been more than 6 months, or if your market or business has experienced significant changes, your content needs a thorough review.

Have you heard the saying, “content is king”? That’s because content plays an essential role in SEO (search engine optimization). Sites with relevant, substantial content are ranked higher by Google. This helps move your website up on the list of search results, driving more qualified prospects to your site.  Interesting, unique content is also more likely to be shared on social networks, which can further extend your reach.

3. Navigation
If it isn’t easy for users to navigate around your site and find the content they want, it doesn’t matter how pretty it looks or how fabulously interesting your content is. People have a low tolerance for frustration, and they’ll leave your site quickly if its functionality is clunky.

When developing your navigation menu, the user experience should be top-of-mind. The navigation should be straightforward and clear, making it as easy as possible for visitors to find what they need quickly.  Your website’s navigation menu is not the place to get creative. Don’t risk confusing or frustrating visitors by using unusual icons or symbols for basic functions like search or sub-menus. 

Here are a few other tips to help make your website easier to navigate.

  • Use your logo as a navigation tool. Clicking on your logo should always take users back to the home page. To make navigation even easier, locate your logo consistently on every page of your site. The header and footer are great spots for your logo.
  • Keep it brief.  Limit the number of options on your main menu to prevent confusion.  Having no more than seven items is a general rule of thumb.
  • Don’t go too deep.  For the best user experience, visitors should be able to access any information on your site with no more than three clicks from the home page.

A simple, clear, and straightforward navigation menu will keep your visitors from getting frustrated and help keep them on your site long enough to take action, ideally starting them on their journey from prospect to customer.

Your business only has one chance to make a first impression, so you need to make it count. A well-designed website has to be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and offer relevant and informative content. Contact jamGD to explore how we can help you design a website that will impress your visitors from the very first click.

NEXT UP: Part 2
Driving engagement: Get your website visitors to interact with your business

By making sure your website is a welcoming place, you create a framework for building relationships and engaging with customers and prospects. In part two of this series, we’ll explore ways to drive engagement and get visitors to take action. 



Sources for part 1: