5 invisible things that will help you do better online
Thu Sept. 21st 2017
I love ugly things. Looking around my kitchen I see a can opener I found in an op-shop 20 years ago and which looks like a piece of abandoned scrap metal. Nevertheless it opens cans with reliable ease. My coffee machine does not have an LCD display, stainless steel, or fancy temperature controls. But everyday it brews an awesome cup of coffee, just like it has for years. When it comes to getting the job done, it’s often the small, overlooked and un-attractive details that make everything work.
So when you built your company website, what were you paying attention to?
Usually, and on pretty much every project I’ve ever worked on, we obsess about the visual design. This is important. But there are usually several neglected, dull, or decidedly ugly elements of any project that need your attention right now.
They’re invisible in the sense that they’re ignored, and we don’t see them unless we look directly at them. Get these 5 things right, and regardless of how pretty your website is, you’ll start doing better online:
1. Website security & performance
Wow. Could I have begun with anything more dull? But if your website CMS is hard to use, you won’t update the site often and everything will suffer because of it. If the site is insecure, you’ll be hacked - only to find out six months later that someone in Russia is selling Viagra via a hidden page on your site (this is an actual thing I’ve helped clients remove in the last year.) If it’s slow, people will leave your site before it loads, increasing your ‘Bounce Rate’. Get someone competent to look after your site, and pay them what they’re worth. Don’t choose the cheapest option.
I’m on record as saying Search Engine Optimisation (or ‘SEO’) is bullshit. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in optimisation itself. True optimisation is about ensuring your website is well-made, that it makes sense to the user by providing clear titles, sensible content, is easy to navigate and accessible. It ain’t sexy, but it’s crucial. Doing these things well not only improves your Search Rank, it also makes your website visitors happy.
3. User experience
That leads nicely to user-experience (or ‘UX’), which is kinda like a subset of optimisation. UX is about understanding how your website visitors experience your website. What are they trying to achieve when they visit? How can you help them reach that goal, making the journey a great experience? Can you reduce the number of clicks they need to make? Do they understand how you expect them to interact? As you might imagine, this has an impact on the visual design - you need clear calls to action, easy-to-read text, contact or order forms that are easy to fill out.
4. Relevant, readable content
Think you’re a good writer? There’s a big chance you’re wrong. I like to think I’m a good writer, but I still use other professionals to write the content for my clients. Why? Because getting the mix of information, brevity, style and clarity into your text is a difficult task that is worthy of a trained professional - so let them do it. Most web projects are held up because someone is struggling to write their own content. Your job is to make sure that the content is aimed squarely at your audience and provides them with relevant answers and information.
Most people don’t have a concrete goal for their online activity. They label it ‘marketing’, cross their fingers, and as a result the outcome of their online marketing is a mystery - whether it’s good or bad. Looking at website statistics and usage trends is only marginally more exhilarating than listening to a lecture on webserver security, I’ll grant you, but paying attention to the numbers will allow you to adjust and respond so that, month on month, you start doing better than before.
Getting control of the little things
This is what Digital Advisor does for clients - we look at all of the little things, overlooked and invisible. We make sure that the first time you hear about them isn't when they break. If you want to know how the service is priced, what sort of projects we undertake, and how we can help you - then please get in touch.