How to Get the Best Website Design for Your Company
No business should forgo a website. For a middle market company, the only question should be how to make your site work more effectively. Luckily, the answer is not a mystery. Getting the best website design for your company is simply a matter of applying proven practices.
Here are seven considerations to help make your site communicate more strongly:
1. Think Usability
Having a pretty or flashy website won't matter if people who come to it get lost, feel frustrated and leave. The key to the best website design is to make things simple, understandable and effective.
That has many implications, including many that will influence site design and content formatting. You also want to be sure to include all the information a visitor might need. For a middle market company, that will likely include the following:
- A map and directions for people who need to get to your headquarters.
- A page or appropriate links for members of the press to reach your PR personnel or firm.
- Phone numbers for departments like sales and customer service.
- Product specifics and data.
- Information for investors if the company is publicly held.
- E-commerce capabilities.
That list should get you started, but is by no means comprehensive.
2. Consider the Site's Purpose
A site is only good when it effectively achieves its purpose, which means you must be able to articulate that purpose. Do you intend to sell products? To satisfy prospects with information? To actually perform transactions? A middle market company's site will likely have multiple purposes, and organization is critical in achieving them.
3. Hire a Good Web Team
Middle market companies usually have the resources, so don't skimp on creative talent. You need people who understand how to write and design for the Web. Don't try to get by with writers and designers who can't show strong expertise in this type of work. Your Web designers and writers should also be aware of industry trends, such as designs considered dated or overused.
4. Employ an Effective Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is essential to a smoothly functioning website. No site is static. You'll need to add content to attract new prospects, support changes to product lines and keep information about the company current. The software you use should make it easy to change your company's website without having to redesign it.
Getting the best website design for your company is not a single action, but an ongoing series of tests and refinements. To that end, be sure there is support for A/B testing. This lets you present different versions of content to visitors on an alternating basis. You then look at which sets show the best results, make them primary and then test other variations. For a middle market company, it should be an imperative to make available the resources necessary for such incremental examination and development.
5. Consider Structure and SEO
Your site's structure will affect search engine optimization (SEO), or the practice of catering to major search engines so they can more easily find and present your site. To arrive at the best structure, list all the pages you want to include and where they will live, then think about which search terms users might type into a search engine to find them. You can have your Web team base your SEO around that.
Any website today should use responsive design, which means the site will adjust in appearance based on the type of device a visitor uses. The approach replaces the older concept of having separate websites for desktop and mobile devices. Not only does responsive design help people use your website more efficiently, but it also affects Google search listings; the search engine downgrades the ratings of sites that aren't responsive.
6. Keep in Mind HTTP/2
A big change in Web technology is the introduction of HTTP/2. This newest version of the basic technology underlying the Web offers better performance, but means a different approach to building and structuring sites. Talk to your Web team and learn how they are planning to make the shift in 2016.
7. Use Analytics to Refine
Because website creation is not a one-time step but an ongoing process, expect to make heavy use of Web analytics. They will become your guideposts to what works on the site, what disinterests people, where audiences spend their time and what seems to send them packing. Your Web team can use this information to refine and improve your SEO as needed.
Is your company considering improving its website? Have you implemented any of these best practices? Tell us about it in the comments.
Erik Sherman is an NCMM contributor and author whose work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, the Financial Times, Chief Executive, Inc. and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch. Sherman has extensive experience in corporate communications consulting and is the author or co-author of 10 books. Follow him on Twitter and circle him on Google+.