Your website is your virtual storefront
Today it is not enough to have a website properly designed and referenced on search engines, it is also imperative for your business to convert your passive visitors into active customers.
Your website is your virtual storefront. Just like your brick-and-mortar store or office exists to facilitate relationships and attract new customers, your website should generate a similar benefit online.
Not only is your website a hub for spreading awareness, building connections and increasing sales, it should also be a digital extension of your brand. Your website should be a cohesive part of the experience a customer or partner has with your company.
Chances are, at this point you already have a website up of some kind. But, you might be considering a revamp to upgrade your website into something that will do more for you.
These are the questions you should ask yourself: Is your website efficient and profitable? Is it bringing in new customers and prospects? Do you have a reliable tool to generate statistics?
Here are 13 steps to building a website that nails your brand:
1. Define Clear Branding Guidelines
First and foremost, you need to know your own why. Why are you doing what you do? Not how will you do it or what are you doin, but why. This will start to define your brand identity.
The overarching goal is to ensure your brand look is consistent with your values, purpose and niche market. When visitors see your pamphlet or website, they should already have a vibe about your company on a subconscious level.
Your branding guidelines should explore the look and feel of your brand.
- Do you have a good logo? You are going to want to invest in one (see below).
- Do you have brand colors or fonts? You need to establish those too.
- What are your brand characteristics? This will help define your visuals and voice.
To stay consistent, you will want to include those fonts, colors and logos in the same way on every piece of printed or digital marketing used by your company.
2. Understand Your Target Audience
As you are starting to define your brand, you need to know who you are trying to attract. Not all audiences have the same interests or care about the same things.
While one audience may love art and inspiration, another audience might prefer humor and entertainment. You have to understand what drives your audience to action if you are going to create a website that appeals to them.
Don’t assume. Pick out some of your best customers and create buyer personas. This will outline the individuals who are likely to take an interest in your brand, industry or products. When you start to understand their pain points and motivators, you will be better positioned to create a useful website.
3. Determine Your Website Goals
Once you know who you are in the market, you need to know what you are doing with your website. Not all companies use their website to increase sales. Some use their website to increase brand awareness or to support their in-person customers who may be searching online for information about specific products.
Some companies are interested in increasing sales and don’t care about offering valuable resources to customers.
You might even find that your goals change as you evolve and your company’s needs change.
Each goal has to be explicitly outlined or you won’t know whether your website was a success or not. And, you need to prioritize only the most important ones or you will feel torn between too many objectives.
4. Choose the Right Design for Your Brand’s Website
There are tons of available themes that will make it easy to turn WordPress into a custom website. You can browse Etsy for themes by searching “WordPress mobile responsive themes.” You might even get inspiration from competitors and try your industry to see if there are any page designs that are more geared towards your company than others.
Many brands choose to hire a WordPress designer to create a custom site. This is one way to ensure your competitors won’t end up with a similar layout or theme. However, this can be very expensive and you may run into a lot of bugs that haven’t been worked out in a new theme.
CyberChimps offers responsive WordPress themes, like Lifestyle and Travel Blog, to support the kind of layout you are looking for. Responsive designs adapt to screen sizes, so your site will look good on a mobile phone, tablet or laptop screen.
5. Invest in a Good Logo for Your Brand
Your logo is your first impression. You need to invest in a logo that clearly makes your mark and helps your brand become memorable.
If you don’t want to make your own logo, try exploring designers on Fiverr and 99designs to see if you can find a good fit. You can also use a simple design tool such as Desygner to create your logo for free.
While a good logo designer will cost hundreds, there are ways to create your own brand logo. Professional tools exist that can help you make a logo at an affordable rate.
6. Choose a Limited Color Palette
Limit your options. Don’t get carried away with too many options. limit your color palette to your brand colors. You don’t need flashy buttons and links unless that is consistent with your brand direction. Simplicity is always a good choice. Know what your colors are going to convey emotionally to your audience.
7. Stay Consistent with Your Style
Whatever you do on one page should be mirrored on other pages of your website. Your website should have a consistent feel that spans images, text, buttons and more. You could also consider adding several languages and translations to your website but remember this will mean a lot of extra work.
8. Create a User-Friendly Site Layout
Your site should be intuitive and mobile-friendly. Users should identify quickly the marketing messages and then feel comfortable moving on to other parts of the site as they explore the it. Many businesses make the mistake of neglecting usability. Usability is critical for the success of any website and should never be overlooked. Good usability can improve the performance of your website and increase your chances of success. It can also boost sales and revenue for your business. Think about these points: Mobile Compatibility. Well Planned Information Architecture. Fast Load Times. Good Error Handling.
9. Add a Blog for Page Indexing
The best way to help increase traffic is to land in more search results and increase site shares. This means a blog is a great idea if you are hoping to increase traffic. Blog articles can specifically answer questions to land in more search engine results and they are more likely to be shared across social media.
A successful website must be updated regularly to be well referenced on search engines. Try updating fresh and interesting content on your blog to generate attention, interest and desire of visitors in order to push them into action by choosing to purchase your products and services.
10. Find Outlets to Increase Site Traffic
Social media is a big outlet for increasing site traffic. The more you are able to get your site out there on the right platforms, the more people will start to see your brand.
The right channel is going to appeal more to your target audience than others. You might end up getting your name into the content of news platforms, social media, guest blogs and more. Just choose the outlets that align with your brand’s value so you are targeting the right audience.
You could also consider doing paid advertising and marketing. Read our other blog article about this.
11. Create a Cohesive Content Strategy
To get started on a solid strategy, you need to have clearly defined goals with KPIs (key performance indicators) to match. Define how you plan to use your website to meet your goals and what metrics you will use to help measure your success or failure for each goal.
You might feel like creating a content strategy at this point is jumping the gun. But, if you don’t know what you want to do with the site, then it is only going to be half-baked at the end of your process.
You might know you want a blog but what if you want landing pages specifically made for five or ten of your surrounding cities to help increase rankings for local search results?
Know what you are planning to do, and the design details for your website will start to fall into place.
12. Build a Content Marketing Calendar
13. Audit Your Content and your Audience
If you have an existing website, start auditing the content. How much is old and outdated? Start by replacing or refreshing that content. Then, look at what gaps you have in your current content and add content to fill them accordingly. Use your known audience to ask them if they find your website good looking and interesting. Find out what questions they are being frequently asked and then create the content that answers those questions clearly.
© Ben Heine