Customers are now more connected than ever. Whereas in the past, a customer’s first interaction with your business would likely have been face to face, customers are now more likely to first encounter your business via your website. For this reason, your customer’s online experience needs to be exceptional – here are some ideas on how to improve it.
Why a good website is so important
In the days when face-to-face interaction was key, customers judged your business by the appearance, behavior, and professionalism of your staff, as well as the look and feel of your business premises. This has changed – customers will most likely encounter your virtual presence before they encounter you in the offline world. Your website will be where first impressions are made. Appropriate content, wide appeal, and a professional appearance will tell customers that you’re open and ready for business. Besides, while your physical presence will likely be accessible during certain hours only, your online presence has open doors around the clock.
The objectives of your website
Depending on the nature of your business, your website will either function as a draw to your physical presence, or some form of physical interaction, or customers will be able to do business with you directly on your website – placing orders for products online. Either way, your site needs to draw customers to what you’re offering. In addition, you need to find a way to get customers to return to your website regularly. A blog or other form of constantly renewing content can be a good way to achieve this. Giving away something for free – news, useful information, hints and tips – may come at a slight cost, but it will bring customers back again and again.
Getting the design and functionality right
The visual design of your site, how the navigation functions, and the general user-friendliness are all huge factors in the way that your online presence is perceived. A crisp and cleanly designed site is essential, and you need to make sure that you strongly present your company’s offline branding on your website. Also, make sure that everything works correctly – the key here is constant and frequent testing of your website’s functions as things can fall into disrepair easily over time. It is also a good idea to get feedback from external parties, whether you ask customers for feedback, or hire an agency to evaluate your site; your thought processes and ways of using technology may differ from others, and it is easy to miss gaps and problems because they are not revealed by your patterns of use.
An essential factor that is still missed by some website managers is the importance of mobile devices. Your site needs to be set up in a way that makes it easy to use on mobile devices, including tablets and mobile phones. You have the option of running two separate websites: one for viewing on personal computers, and one for viewing on mobile devices. Alternatively, you can have one website that follows responsive design principles to render correctly on any screen. Which you choose will depend on the complexity of your online presence.
Importance of a wide audience
Always remember that the general public is a very varied group of people. If you want your online presence to be a good experience for every visitor, it needs to appeal to a wide audience. The wider the appeal of your website, the greater the chance that it will lead to a business transaction. For example, if you’re managing a news service, like this site, you want to present real news that covers a broad range of niches to appeal to as many people as possible.
Constant review and revision is crucial
The online world moves quickly, and customer expectations for online interactions are ever changing. It is not an option to build and leave in place a website for a period of several years. Instead, consider your online presence to be a living and changing effort that needs constant attention. Regularly consult with your developer or agency, or if you built the website yourself, make an effort to keep up to date with the latest developments in the online world. There is also a lot to be said for a regular fresh look, while frequently updated content keeps both visitors and search engine crawlers interested in coming back.