The 21st century has been referred to as the internet age by many historians owing to the spread of use of the internet as a tool for information dissemination. Online presence therefore has changed to be a necessity as opposed to a need for any business that seeks to expand its market. The average person spends approximately 7 to 8 hours each day using the internet and as such the internet affects every aspect of our lives from how we do business to what we eat and how often we eat it. It follows therefore that there are advantages that accrue to a business that has a website. This includes:
- Wider market
- The business is able to reach a far wider clientele than it would have if it just maintained a physical address. Location of a customer is not an impediment since the internet, as it is popularly said, makes the world a global village.
- Less operating costs.
- Costs associated with the traditional physical business model such as rent or leases, permits, licenses, and wages are eliminated hence reducing operating costs.
- Customer feedback
- Potential reviews from clients or users. This feedback from customers helps a business tailor its services towards the needs and requirements of the client. Insights on the other hand show user behavior on the website and will help the business tailor its services to not only meet customer needs, but also help the business know which areas its potential clients tend to focus on and such shift their focus towards those areas.
- Competitive advantage
- You'll have a competitive edge over one that simply maintains a physical business. This is because they are able to not only reach a wider market, but also serve this market at the same time without compromising on customer experience. Website schema also enhances this advantage in the online space as your target audience will get refined results. Schema data will also optimize search results to ensure potential clients are directed to your website.
It Should Inspire Action
It has been said that a good website, especially in this modern times, is what inspires potential clients to take action. It can be likened to a well outlined resume to an employer which guides them to either hire or not hire a potential employee. As such, the state of a website, whether good or bad, is the deal breaker or maker and will determine whether a client will engage the owner of the website or not.
A good website should possess certain desirable features and characteristics for it to be regarded as one, some of these include:
- The user experience should be engaging to the users and should not be vague leaving a user stranded on what they should do next.
- Simple layout
- In website design, less is more in its literal sense. A cluttered layout will not only confuse visitors to the website, but it will also minimize chances of repeat visits to it.
- Beautiful display
- Visual appeal induces certain emotional responses from users. Borrowing from biology, positive appeal will most likely result in a repeat visit while a negative one will guarantee that the user avoids repeat visits. Visual appeal is defined by the colors and font types used. The design should have colors that don't distract the user from the website contents and legible fonts.
- Use of multimedia
- Research has shown that people process stationary and moving images faster than they do written text. Customers are more likely to remember an image or a video on average ten times more than they would remember written texts. Adding media files to a website, coupled with the short, descriptive texts will therefore be more interactive to a user.
Professionalism is a key characteristic of any good website. Key indicators for a professional website include:
- Mobile first
- Most people start by creating a desktop compatible version then later modifying it to be mobile friendly. Mobile device proliferation has increased to around 45% globally with about 3.5 billion having access to smart devices. Internet traffic from mobile devices stands at around 60% globally. This is an indicator that for any website to reach a wider market and be more accessible, it should have a mobile-first design.
- Content presentation
- Since websites have written information, how this information is presented is a key determinant in ensuring a more professional user experience. Large paragraphs should be broken down into subheaders. Key themes should be highlighted into subtopics for ease of readability. A simple, conversational tone in the language will also help to appeal even to the less literate users.
- Communication tools
- For a website to satisfy user needs, it needs to have a platform of communication between the user and the owners of the website. This will give a platform where users can raise concerns, queries, suggestions or even simple clarification of sticky points. The website as such should have tools such as a chatbots, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section and social media integration.
- Website technical SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is highly dependent on speed. A professional website should have minimum lags and delays and should be able to load in a short time. Large size of website media such as images and videos is the major contributor of lag and delay and trimming the size of the media files will assist in improving speed.
- Moving from one point to another should not be rocket science. The website should make it easy for the user to find exactly what they want and in the least tiring manner possible. It is also important to note that easing navigation improves its website technical SEO.
- Limit display of ads
- Online advertisements may provide additional source of revenue to the website, but at a fatal cost of looking spammy and unprofessional. Ads also distract users from the core content.
In order for a site to efficiently serve its purpose, it should provide factual, credible and truthful information to its users. Fake news is an emerging trend in online engagement and as such, users will prefer websites that provide accurate and reliable information. To improve on credibility, you should:
- Provide contact details
- It should not only provide the contact information of its owners, but the contact information displayed should match the results from other sites such as google. This information should also be updated such that the addresses and phone numbers shown are current and in a working condition.
- Display reviews and accreditations
- Users who have a positive experience are likely to leave a positive review on the company's website. Displaying these reviews and ratings, both positive and critical, will show that a website is trustworthy and reliable. It should also provide a place where new users can leave their suggestions, comments, ratings or reviews without too much of a hassle.
- Accreditations and awards on the other hand that a website has received are a pointer to credibility and trustworthiness of a website. These too should also be displayed prominently on the website homepage.
- Resource as opposed to sales
- Unreliable websites are seen as those that are only focused on making sales as opposed to provision of useful information to users. To be more credible, it needs to be able to inform while selling and not just sell. Adding a search button and provision of detailed product information can aid in this objective.
- Visiting a website by any user collects some information that is private to the user. This information may include the location of the user, web preferences, web search history or in the case where payment is online, account information. Telling users what specific information your website collects, how you manage the information and what that information will be used for will make a website more credible.
- Give the website a human face
- People associate credibility with how relatable the website is. A personified website will display team members associated with the website therefore giving it a human touch.
- Update and verify information on the website
- Stale, unverified or old information displayed on a website leaves a user questioning the credibility of the information provided in a website. Care should be taken to regularly maintain a website and update information to be current and factual.