How important is a website for a business? The answer is VERY important! Think about it. A website introduces a business to the world wide web in which we live in. We live in a generation where search engines are our “yellow pages.” We no longer browse our phone books when searching for a place to order pizza or to find a landscaper to mow our lawns. Nope, those days are behind us. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I opened a phone book. Do they still print those?
Yesterday, I was in desperate need of a sprinkler company to fix a leak in my sprinkler system so of course I did what all social media-lites do; I opened Google in my internet browser and I “googled” sprinkler companies in my area. Guess what happened next? Pages of website results appeared at my fingertips, reminding me how much I love technology! However, when browsing company websites, it does not take long to realize that not all websites are created equally. Some are awful, some are just okay, and some make you want to scream, “Nailed it!”
Inevitably, our experience on a company’s website contributes to the likelihood of us pursuing business with them. This is why it is crucial for companies to take their web design very serious. For most businesses, their websites are the first customer contact they will have. A poorly designed website that is disorganized, confusing, and not easily accessible may lead to your company losing business before any human contact has even been made.
There are several characteristics that contribute to a successful company website and they can be categorized into five categories; Appearance, Functionality, Usability, Accessibility, and Content. When a company’s web design executes these characteristics properly, then the business has succeeded in making a great first impression to all those who visit their website.
Appearance: Obviously, the appearance of a website is crucial to the success of the website! For a company website, it is very important to make a good first impression on the potential customers that visit their site.
- The design should look professional, polished, and most of all, unique!
- The font must be easy-to-read
- There must be variation in the design that includes relevant images, headers, and links.
Have you ever visited a website with no variation or pictures, only pages of wording? I have, and all I have to say about that is if I wanted to read a book, I would have opened my kindle!
Functionality: It is important that the website has a focus and that the visitor knows what that focus is.
- The purpose of the website should be completely obvious and the website should help guide you toward it.
- Well-organized, visible headers, and internal or external links help the website function successfully.
- All external and internal links should work! You would think this would be obvious, but I know we have all clicked on a link at some point and have seen the error message, “The page that you are looking for does not exist!”
Usability: Users, like me, want to be able to actually use a company’s website. How awesome is it when you can actually order a pizza online or set up an appointment right there on their website?!
- The website should be consistent, organized, and easy to navigate.
- Visitors should not be confused or have to scroll through the page to find what they are looking for.
- Of course, the website should also load as quickly as possible!
Accessibility: Is it too much to ask that we can access the website from our device of choice? Absolutely not! Sometimes I’m on my laptop, other times I’m using my iPad, and I’m always using my phone! Another side of accessibility is making it easy for all to access despite any hearing and visual impairments.
- Add text scripts to Podcasts and other forms of audio.
- Add description to the images in case someone is using a screen-reader.
- The website must look relatively the same on all major internet browsers.
- Make it accessible on any device of choice!
Content: This is the most important part because it showcases the company’s purpose, explains the company’s services, and provides the answers that the visitor is searching the web for!
- The content should appear right when the website is opened.
- It should be spelled correctly and be written with the proper grammar. How could anyone take a company seriously if they can’t read the information?
- Content should be short, sweet, and to the point!
- Content should also highlight the company’s services and attributes.