Website management can sound a little dull, to the untrained eye there’s probably not a lot involved – deciding on some content, images and an attractive layout and surely you’re there? Well, not quite. A website begins with nothing; it needs the right design backed by the correct knowledge, it should consider the end user experience and goals and, if you’re planning some effective marketing, it should be a place of valuable content that’s consistently refreshed and updated.
There are literally billions of websites – and probably thousands of those, if not millions, are offering something similar to yours. If your site and business is going to fly, you’re going to want to get your website management exactly right.
Once you’ve registered your domain name it’s likely you’ll only have a generic holding page provided by your domain provider. So, it’s time to build! How this is done is going to depend a lot on your skill level.
If that level is zero, then you’re going to want to think about getting someone to do it for you – start looking for web design companies, website management services, and individuals that fit the bill. Low levels of web and design knowledge? You might want to look at using a ‘what you see is what you get’ site building tool like Wix or Squarespace. If you’ve got a level of knowledge that you consider slightly higher, using a development tool like WordPress is a nice balance of layperson usability and technical features.
Whether your level of programming ability is zero or HTML-hero, the ability to put a site together doesn’t necessarily mean you know what it should look like or how it should work. With this is mind, consider the following:
The biggest tech company in the world, Apple, derived most of their success from working toward the utmost simplicity in everything they do. Your site should strive for the same, try to strip out elements that serve no marked purpose – whatever the goal for your customer, it’s unlikely to be helped by unnecessary elements.
Don’t go overboard with colour, most experts suggest between 3 and 6 as a good number. When considering a typeface, try to use something that reflects the tone of your website while still being 100% readable. Images and graphics are great – but try to use them when you need them, rather than just dotting them around with a misplaced sense of design prowess.
Stick to the conventions
You’ll probably notice, perhaps even unconsciously, that a lot of websites act and display in similar ways. Want to quickly get back to the homepage? The chances are you’ll click on the logo at the top left of the page you’re currently viewing. You’ll expect links to other website to display underlined in the standard ‘hyperlink’ blue – and a menu to be found toward the top or at the left.
Sure, you could lean away from these norms, but do so and you’re risking customers not being able to interact with your site in the way they expect to – often meaning they’ll leave quickly.
The term visual hierarchy refers to the prominence of the elements on the page you want the user’s eye to be drawn to. So, you’ll never struggle to find a ‘buy now’ button on a page – whereas you might have more of a challenge finding a terms and conditions link.
Getting the visual hierarchy right means your customers are more likely to be interacting with your page in the way you want them to. Are you using tools that let you see where and how a customer clicks and interacts? If they’re not taking the path you desire, look at altering the visual hierarchy of elements on the page and see if you can signpost users a little more efficiently.
What’s the goal?
What are you hoping happens when a customer visits your site? Lots of people think “I need a website” without actually thinking about why! Without understanding what the customer journey should be it’s difficult to decide if you’re managing your site correctly.
When you’ve decided on your goal you should look at visitor numbers. There are plenty of industry averages to be found when looking at how many people convert – whether that’s from a lead generation sense, actual completed purchases, article shares and so forth – how do you line up against these averages?
If the answer isn’t great, looking at how you can manage your site toward your required goal should be on your priority to-do list…
Do you have a blog on your website? If not, you could be missing a big marketing trick – however, it will take some management. Blog are almost essential if you want to create interesting content that you can refer to in your marketing campaigns. You’ll never ‘go viral’ if you don’t have something people can share.
Are you able to write relevant content yourself? Would it be better outsourcing that to a copywriter who specialises in creating web content for your field? Whatever you decide, writing is only half the battle – when you’ve got great content are you making it easy for people to find? Are you sharing it over all your outlets to maximise expose and visits?
It’s unlikely any other page on your site will take as much management as your blog – but it’s also unlikely that any other page will attract quite as many visitors – particularly as you start out.
An increasing number of your customers are going to be accessing your site using a mobile browser – if you’re not accounting for these users you’ve missing the chance to get your message over to a big chunk of your audience.
A site that is optimised for use in a standard desktop or laptop browser can be difficult to use on smaller devices. Understanding where your traffic is coming from and the devices they’re using can be the difference between successful interactions – or people quickly bouncing to another site.
The bigger picture
While all the points we’ve covered are important individually, there’s also an impact on the overall customer experience to consider. If your site displays and behaves in the way customers are expecting, you’re already winning an enormous amount of credibility. Large retail outlets invest millions to make sure conditions are right for a customer to do exactly what they want them to – the same should be true of your site – management is vitally important if you want to make the most of the customers who spend and make important decisions while online…