Web Design for New Hampshire
Strategies for Optimal Business Web Development
As internet technology continues to grow at an accelerated pace, web user expectations are also rapidly increasing. Understanding how web-savvy consumers explore the web, how they rhythmically fall into specific search patterns, and how they interact socially within various online communities can allow businesses to build targeted and highly effective marketing campaigns. Web user behavior dictates design, controls how web sites are constructed and demands that companies now pay close attention to technology innovations. It's not just about the bells and whistles anymore, but more about providing the right bells at the right time and offering the largest selection of whistles with free shipping, customer reviews and a viral social presence. And when the whistle blows, everyone should hear it. New Hampshire consumers–as well as consumers everywhere–are now expecting more from business web sites and if your company can't provide what these consumers are looking for, then your competition will.
As we look at how New Hampshire companies can increase their web presence and build an online rapport with potential consumers, your company must first consider how your clients currently search the world wide web. Each industry is unique with some prospects being more internet-savvy than others. It is important to review the demographics of your target market, which should include data about user education, income, family size, age, and gender. This information is critical as these population segments interact online in different ways because they have different needs. One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is to create a single web site with the expectation that it will provide everything to everyone. Rather than providing a focused message to a specific demographic, the unfocused web site becomes too soft in its attempt to appeal to a broad market. Businesses will be rewarded–both by Google and consumers–for providing focused content targeted to a specific audience.
Pre-Web Design Thoughts
Each web site has a specific purpose. Whether it is an e-commerce site designed to sell products, a not-for-profit site created to spread a message or acquire donations for a cause, or even a resource site built only to provide useful information about a company's service, every web site has one thing in common–it needs traffic to be successful. A beautiful web site will not have any value unless the right people can find it easily. This is a very simple, yet profound, concept but one that is continually overlooked by many companies. With over 15 years in the web design and online marketing industry, our New Hampshire-based company has interacted with hundreds of businesses. Unfortunately, very few of these clients have fully grasped the value of generating qualified traffic and how an abundant flow of web visitors is actually created. There is a false, underlying notion in the business world that if you build a good web site, then people will automatically find and visit it. But traffic generation is not magic and instead requires strategic planning to construct a web site designed to maintain a continuous stream of targeted site visitors.
Many clients that approach our firm for online marketing services already have had a web site built. They may have paid a lot of money for this site as well as having devoted a great deal of time generating content for their site, but usually after 5 or 6 months they quickly realize that other than employees, friends, and family, nobody is visiting their web site and, discouragingly, conversions are incredibly low. Web marketing at this point becomes a much tougher task because it requires trying to rank a web site for keywords and phrases that the site was not originally designed for. Pushing targeted traffic to a web site is a marketing process that needs to be researched and well-planned for far before a web site is built, any content is written, or a design process has begun. A framework to control the flow of traffic throughout the site is crucial to building a Google-friendly web presence. Creating a powerful marketing vehicle to grow a business is predicated on market analysis and traffic research. Search engine traffic is hard to acquire unless your site is built specifically to target exact search terms or the key phrases that consumers use. This means a web page should be created for each keyword you are looking to rank for, original content written to support these specific keywords, and a marketing plan designed to foster the traffic growth for all of these search terms.
Throughout the planning stages of the web site design process, a lot of hard questions need to be asked to ensure that the web site will achieve the company's goals. The days of throwing together a quick site with an 'About Us, Contact, and Services' pages are long gone. Strategic planning involves looking at traffic resources, understanding the demographics of that traffic, and building web pages designed specifically for those users. Before a page is built, it is important to know what keyword it should rank for, who it is designed for, and what the outcome of that page should be–a product sale, a contact, lead generation, providing information, building your brand, or for differentiating your business from the competition. Each page of your web site should have an action and an easily-measured goal.
Part of understanding how to build a web site with high conversions is switching shoes with your clients. Most websites online today are typically about a business rather than about the consumer. As an example, a common approach is to build a company site that touts company achievements, discusses the products and services, or may even have a company blog about 'What's New' in the company. Step into your clients' shoes, however, and you will understand that a consumer wants to read about how your product or service will save them time, make life easier, or solve a problem of theirs. Increasing conversions is about solving pain points or providing solutions for consumers rather than just ramblings about company achievements. The old adage of "the customer is first" is just as true online as it is in the real world. Build your web site based on the customer and the more value that you can give them, the greater the reward will be for your business.
The important time invested in pre-planning mode is what differentiates the successful sites from those that fall short of generating revenue. Waiting until a web site is completed before taking into account traffic generation and how your site visitors can be converted into clients means that the full marketing potential of the web site has not been completely utilized.
The Web Design Phase
Once site traffic has been analyzed and a plan has been developed that targets specific web users in a precise industry, the design process can begin. Not all graphic and web designers actually understand how people search the web and what they are looking for. As web users spend more time on the web, their expectations for higher quality content and more friendly user engagement increases. Knowing your client demographics, based on prior planning, is crucial to the design phase. Certain colors, design attributes, and photography are used differently for various age groups and genders. While women prefer different color schemes than men and teenagers have different site expectations than older generations, the site design has to reflect the target audience. Unique and creative designs are very important for branding and establishing a modern site, but really good designers can produce creative designs, images that sell, and combine it all into a well-versed juxtaposition of graphics designed to reach a targeted demographic. This aspect of design is what separates the great web sites from the overabundance of just good web sites that one frequently finds on the internet today.
It has been said that 'picture paints a 1000 words'. Your web site may be the first interaction a possible client has with your business and a strong design can say a lot about how your company does business. The typical web user will land on your web site and decide if they are going to stay or leave within three seconds. In this three-second window of opportunity, a web site must capture the user's attention, entice them to delve further into the site, or give them something that can't be found on a competitor's site. It is startling how quickly a potential lead can be lost or gained. This almost instantaneous decision process on the part of a consumer only reiterates the importance of putting your best foot forward with a quality design that quickly speaks to the customers' need.
One of the hardest, yet most important part of our business is teaching clients about the value of having a good web design in their marketing portfolio. We often have clients ask us what the difference is between a design/web site we create versus a design that they can do themselves or one that comes from an inexpensive template service. This is a legitimate question for a lot of people as the price range between the two differs substantially. The answer to this question is very simple–it is a difference in quality. How much of a difference does a quality web presentation make in terms of sales and conversions? It can be substantial. The value of a quality design and web site construction may not be initially visible unless you have spent a lot of time on the web and understand how traffic originates. For many companies, a web site is needed because, well, everyone has one. But for the select businesses that understand the power of the web to impact sales and client acquisition, quality is crucial for business growth. A quality web site, both in coding/construction and design, does several things for your company:
- It is a reflection of your business image, the quality of your products or services, and how much you care about your clients.
- It helps you rank higher on search engines. With approximately 80% of traffic reaching web sites through search engines, this important fact cannot be overlooked.
- Conversions are much higher with a site designed specifically for a targeted market than when using a template site that looks just like many other sites. A quality-designed site can increase conversions which in turn grows your business.
- Savvy web surfers will know if a web site is made with a cheap template or if it has been originally designed. Consumer confidence is greater with a higher-quality, uniquely-designed web site.
Ultimately, you need to ask yourself how you want your business to appear to your potential N.H. clients. Will they gain or lose confidence in your company's products and services when they visit your web site?
Web Site Construction
The construction aspect of a web design project has ramifications that can affect the long term growth of a web site, how content is delivered, and play a role in how your web site ranks in search engines.
Unless you have spent some time in the web design community, you may not fully understand the difference between PHP, Cold Fusion, ASP, or HTML. Hiring a full-service marketing agency that understands the important differences in these programming languages as well as the current trends in the web industry will help to ensure your success. One of the most crucial aspects to any web design project is to create a web site that will allow your business to grow over time. Although technology is changing incredibly fast, you do not want to have to build a new web site every two years. Google also changes their algorithms at a rapid rate. These two factors must be considered in any web site construction project. Notably, the content and design many companies created a year or two ago would most likely no longer rank today or, even worse, inflict Google ranking penalties. But there are some things such as a quality design and good content that will always have value, and these are the things that every business needs to focus on today in order to stay relevant online for the long haul.
A good navigation scheme is something that you assume your design team will do effectively, but navigation is far more complex than just adding a few buttons at the top of your web page. The flow of traffic through your site is critical to converting visitors into customers. Pushing traffic to valuable content will prove to be rewarding and Google looks at the navigation or web site link structure to determine which pages have more value. If you examine navigation not just in terms of easy access to all pages on your web site, but in terms of your Google ranking and increased sales, the structure of your site becomes a paramount factor for online success.
Ability To Update Content
A Content Management System (CMS) can add to the cost of your web design project but if you do the math, it could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the fees that would be needed to hire a web designer to regularly update your site. CMS tools have continued to become better with technology advances and updating your web site has become almost as easy as sending an email. Just simply enter some text, click 'update', and the new content appears instantaneously. Oftentimes, a CMS includes the additional functionality of adding new pages. This enables in-house control of your web site with the ability to add new pages for new products, additional services or even a special sale or deal that you would like to promote. Having the ability to make these enhancements in-house is much faster than waiting for your web designer to get it into their work schedule. Getting information to the marketplace in a timely manner has the potential for higher sales.
We have all read blog posts on various topics and know what a blog is, but how can a business use a blog to increase its web traffic? The purpose of a blog is not for sharing company info as many companies mistakenly believe, but rather to use it as a tool for providing quality information that can benefit a consumer. Google likes content and not only does a blog increase the amount of content on your web site, but if the blog post is written on a specific topic, it can rank on Google very quickly. Blogs work well for increasing site content, ranking your site for specific key words and for building rapport as well as gaining consumer confidence with site visitors.
Video and Multi-Media
Not every web user wants to receive information in the same format. One of the great facets of the world wide web is that people have the ability to acquire information through various types of media. Written words on your web site is one way to deliver content but some users prefer listening to a podcast while in their car, downloading a PDF to read and review later, or watching a video that visually describes product information. Google rewards multi-media on web sites because Google wants to provide the best solution for a web search. By providing valuable and up-to-date content in multiple formats, the opportunity to fulfill a user's search query is greater. With internet speeds increasing and the comfort level of consumers shopping and searching on the web, it is becoming increasingly more important to provide numerous sources for content delivery.
A well-planned web design strategy that takes the above points into consideration will result in a site that can then be marketed to target specific New Hampshire web segments. After all, it's really about having a web site that works for you and not the other way around.
Author: Craig Hayes
Publisher: Scribble Creative Group, LLC.
Section: Web Design