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Creating effective websites

Every website is different, so there is certainly no ‘one-size-fits all’ for creating highly effective websites. However when you look at the very best sites in the world, time and time again it comes down to these 5 key principles. This article is written as a handy ‘new website 101’ primer. We hope you find these hints and tips helpful!:

1. Start with an excellent brand.

When it comes time to build a site, it’s important to have a brand design and look already figured out or well on its way. If your brand needs work, quite often, your website won’t work either. Getting a company name, without being clear on your brand identity, look, colourways, personality and tonality means you have more work cut out for you when building a website from scratch. It’s ideal that you get a few of these things in place first prior to embarking on a website or deal with an design and digital expert rather than going it alone so you can set it all in motion.

2. Add strong digital design work that tells your brand’s story.

When you ask a friend or colleague what brands they admire, they might say Nike, Tiffany’s, Apple, Adidas, Ikea or Louis Vuitton. Now think a little on that. What do these all have in common? For a start they all have well thought-out design layouts, photography and messaging that tap into a mindset that makes you feel something. The same is true of any great website. It needs to be an extension of your physical brand, and who you are as an organisation –but done virtually.

3. Make your navigation nimble so users can find what they need quickly.

The best sites don’t hide their goodies under a rock. They recognise that time is important for all visitors. Be they shoppers, searchers or fact-finders. Let’s face it, if your site is needlessly complex, visitors will look elsewhere. So if you already have a site running, step back and examine it carefully. Then ask yourself – is every page and panel needed? Is everything easy to find? If the answer is ‘not sure’ then chances are you need expert UX assistance to streamline what you have, so that visitors can find more of what you want them to discover on your site.

4. Build in words and content that speak one-on-one.

Highly effective sites know their audience, and communicate accordingly. They understand exactly what their target audience want, and then show them precisely what they need. If you’re lifting text directly from brochures and placing it on pages then you’re probably missing key opportunities to really engage, persuade and convert in a personal way to elicit strong responses. Treating your online space as its own conversation path is the best way to maximise full potential, rather than simply cutting and pasting. It’s also important to recognise that content is not just words either. Videos, animations and images are powerful ways to demonstrate attributes of your product, service or organisation.

5. Appreciate that for every visitor, every moment counts.

Great websites invite people in to stay. In other words, just like a great restaurant, store or cafe, people linger longer. Visitors don’t bounce in and bounce out without taking actions. However when you’re starting out with a brand new website, getting those high-dwell times, goal conversions and low bounce rates can take time. It’s important to realise that once a visitor arrives on site, time is of the essence. It’s common for people to spend a mere 6 seconds or less on a single web page once they’re past the home page, and only 45 seconds on an entire website before leaving. So pushing your best, most engaging content to the most visible parts of your site is a great idea for effectiveness, while leaving a few ‘treats’ elsewhere to reward those that go further as well.

The most effective websites don’t end when they’re built. They keep evolving.

Effective websites aren’t born overnight. You need skilled people to a bring strong design and clear content to life in your site. Then following that you need to watch your visitor behaviours and understand the data that is generated by those users to further build on your success. Like a great brand you admire, a great website comes together in ways that people barely notice, but the best ones respond to data and keep with it. Developing a new website on solid foundations will allow you to keep evolving your website’s content and brand story. Remaining fresh and relevant to keep visitors coming back. There are also many, many technical elements needed to get your site running as best as it should – too many to list here (such as SSL Security, SEO and so on). As they say, an awesome front-end design, is only as good as its back-end!

For an outstanding result, speak to The Animals today about how we can create an inspiring online approach across a new or existing website for you. We’re adept at managing branding, design, copy, content, wire-framing and prototyping, right through to developing a beautifully finished site for you, and can assist at any stage in your project.