The #1 most important digital asset your organization needs in today’s world is a website.

In many cases, your website is the first ‘digital’ impression your business makes. It’s also an asset over which you have complete control. Social media channels, such as Facebook, may limit your ability to post certain types of content and may impact your reach through algorithms. Otherwise, your website is yours to design and configure exactly the way you want.

In the digital world, creating a strong and effective online presence is a must. When people visit your website, they are looking for information. Did you know that the average attention span of people today is only about 8 seconds? You need to ensure that you are providing readers with the information they are looking for in an easy and user-friendly way. Sites that are poorly structured or perform slowly make a poor first impression, and visitors may leave your site sooner – with or without valuable information.

The important thing to remember when planning and developing a website is that it supports your business goals and objectives. If your advertising, events, public relations and social media are successful, they will inspire people to visit your website. Therefore, it’s essential that your website not only tells a good story, but also a consistent message that aligns with what you’re saying in other parts of your business’s marketing.

So, what makes a great website and how can you set yours apart from the rest?

We’ve put together some key areas to focus on to help you make sure your website stands out.

Your website’s purpose

You want your website to serve a purpose and help support your business goals. Before you start designing (or redesigning) a website, determine what your website’s purpose is. Does it help potential guests learn about the area? Is it to encourage online bookings for your business? Each page on your website needs to have a clear purpose or theme and meet the specific needs of your website users in the most effective way possible. Once you understand the purpose of your website, you can begin to tell a story through your content and navigation.

User experience

People want information quickly, so it’s important to think about user experience. Images, videos, and other rich media can help tell the visual story of your business in seconds. It helps attract readers and encourages them to explore more about your website. Many websites are designed like scavenger hunts, making it difficult for readers to find the information they are looking for. To make their experience easier, simplify navigation, use clear calls to action, and use headings, subheadings, and bullets to break up text-heavy content.

Responsive design

According to Google, more than 50% of website browsing is done on mobile devices. It’s more important than ever that your website is mobile responsive, meaning it can navigate as well on mobile as it does on desktop. Nowadays, we call this responsive design. Because there are so many different types of phone and tablet devices, you want your website to run smoothly and be easily viewable across multiple devices. Having a responsive website is a must!

Site speed

No one likes having to wait long for a website to load, especially on mobile devices. Google best practices say your website should load in 3-4 seconds. You can test your website speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights testing tool. Make sure your website runs smoothly by optimizing videos and images for faster downloads and using a website server that can meet your bandwidth needs.

Images (Tell stories through images)

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and this couldn’t be more true for websites! Having brand photos on a website is crucial in showcasing your story. Ultimately, it sets the stage for the content that follows. A single photo can stop a viewer in their tracks and make them want to explore your site further. The first impression is always the most important.

Copy website

The image sets the stage, but it’s the copy that delivers the effect. Create copy that tells a story, instead of copy that just lists features. Ultimately, you want to convey a message that makes people remember you even after they leave your website.
Here are the four types of content:

  • Informational: This content is great for search engine optimization (SEO). It can detail and explain what to do in an area or provide answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Entertainment: Entertainment content drives social media, shares, and awareness of your brand through its personality. This can be achieved by including user-generated content.
  • Narration: Narrative content builds on itself, whether it’s a chef trying out a series of recipes or a tour guide taking us on a virtual tour of all the streets her favorite trail.
  • Journey: Like informational content, journey content works in a very specific way. Itineraries are a way for you to bring value to different guests by becoming their local expert. This type of content is a great way to collaborate with others in your area.

Choose a platform

There are different types of website platforms. It’s important to understand which platform will best suit your needs for your organization. Below are some of the most popular types of website platforms.

  • WordPress : The most commonly used platform. This platform is perfect for websites that want a lot of functionality and require flexible design.
  • Squarespace : This platform is easy to get started with. You can easily use plug and play options, making it a suitable first site for smaller organizations.
  • Shopify : If you are planning to open an online store, Shopify is the most commonly used online shopping platform. There are some design and functionality limitations.
  • Wix: Another great first website platform is Wix. It is budget-friendly and easy to use. As you expand your business, you may need to replace your website with a more complex system, but to get started it’s a great first website choice.

SEO & Keywords

The main goal of a website is to be found by potential customers and help provide them with the information they are looking for. To help your site get found by Google, you need a combination of search engine optimization and keyword best practices. There are many factors that influence SEO rankings but here are four main areas:

  • Site content relevance: This looks at the relevance of your entire website based on a specific keyword or phrase. When a potential visitor types a word or phrase into Google, Google wants to provide the most relevant results for their search query. The keywords or phrases you are using need to be relevant to the content on your website. Google Keyword Planner can help you identify the right keywords for your customers.
  • Website content quality: This looks at the quality of your content. Here, Google can see the amount of content on the page and whether you’ve included any multimedia content like images and videos. It also considers how often your website content is updated.
    Inbound links: One of the metrics that Google looks at to determine how good a website is is through seeing who else links to that website. Don’t buy links, instead grow your links naturally. Different types of links have different weights (called Domain Authority). For example, Google will see a government organization linking to your site as a more valuable link than a local blogger.
  • Social media activity: Google also looks at other metrics like your social media activity and whether people are sharing links to your site on social media. Having social sharing buttons can be a great way to help increase the likelihood of your content being shared on social media.

It can be easy to get caught up in writing content that will increase your Google rankings but the most important thing to do is to build and write your website for the people first, Google second. If customers like your website and content, Google will eventually reward you.

When it comes to building a website, there can be a lot of factors to consider, and this list is just a small portion of what you might want to start with. By keeping these principles in mind for your next website, you’ll be closer to having a more attractive, useful, and effective website for your customers.

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