10 Tips for a Smart Website

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Whether your prospects find your firm through referral or as a result of Internet searches, the bottom line is that a significant number of them will inevitably visit your website prior to contacting you.

Several industry studies point to the fact that Internet searches conducted by computers, smartphones, iPads and tablets is on the rise. Consequently, having a well-conceived and functional website increases the odds that your firm surfaces in Internet searches. For this reason websites have become virtual storefronts, online business cards, and ultimately, a core element of your overall branding effort.

Whether you are in the process of investing in a new website or planning to revamp an existing one, I’d like to offer you the following ten tips:

1. Objective
Don’t have a website just for the sake of having one. Instead, clearly establish the chief scope of this critical tool by asking yourself these important questions: Will my website serve as a business-generating tool? A reference platform for my current clients? A medium to attract attention to the expertise and capabilities of my firm?

2. Audience
Attain an in-depth understanding of your audiences, the issues and problems they’re experiencing, and then clearly articulate how you can help them address such issues. A visitor who learns that you can provide a solution to her specific problem will be immediately engaged and compelled to read on to learn more about you and your firm.

3. Messages
Before you begin the design process, establish the following:

  • A clear and unequivocal positioning of your firm and what it does for its clients
  • The key differentiators that set your firm apart from its direct competitors

Your message should be clear, concise and in a language that everyone can understand.

4. Content
Seek to tell a story throughout the pages of your site, rather than just listing the products and services you provide. Websites overflowing with information, links and tools can put off visitors. Hire a professional writer to craft a story for your site. Ensure that all core messages are woven into the story along with your expertise and capabilities. Content should be focused, concise and feature bullet format paragraphs to facilitate easy reading.

5. Usability
This factor plays a major role in a visitor’s engagement on your site. In the Western world, the majority of people tend to follow a “Z” pattern while browsing a website. They start across the top from the left and end in the bottom right corner of the screen. Ask your web designer to place the most important mark of your identify—your logo—at the top of the Z pattern. Visitors’ eyes will naturally follow the path of the Z to its end where your “call-to-action” is strategically placed.

6. Mobility
Several market researches project that by 2014 more users will access the Internet from their phones and tablets than from a computer. If your website is not accessible to mobile phone users, you significantly increase your odds of losing new business. The mobile version of your site must feature a limited number of pages and condensed content.

7. Images
The scope of your website is to establish an immediate bond with a visitor. Engage a professional photographer to take photos of you and your team and post them on your site. Also, with the help of a web designer, carefully select images for your site that help amplify your message and capture your visitors’ attention, making them feel they are in the right place.

8. Video
Use video to increase the time visitors spend on your website. YouOnTV study revealed that web surfers spend on average 48 seconds on a specific website. When a site features a video, that time jumps to 5:50 minutes. Scientific evidence suggests that one minute of video equals 1.8 million words. Consequently, with a single video frame you can deliver the same amount of information contained in three pages of text.

9. Call-to-Action
A call-to-action is something designed to induce a visitor to take action. Your goal is to establish a connection with as many visitors as possible, so you want give them a reason to remember your business. Offering the opportunity of signing up for a newsletter, downloading a white paper or a free ebook, will prompt visitors take action and voluntarily give you their email address and other valuable demographics. From there you can begin to develop a relationship.

10. 3 Strikes and You’re Out
The scope of your website is not only to provide good information, but to ensure that information can be accessed and consumed as swiftly as possible. On dated or poorly designed websites, information is accessible only after a string of clicks. On average, three clicks is the threshold visitors tolerate to access information.

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

Claudio PannunzioClaudio Pannunzio
President
i-Impact Group Inc.
Greenwich, Conn.

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