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In the next in an occassional series of guest posts really focussing on social media and website marketing generally, Joel Hughes of JoJet in Newport (blog here) shares his formula for success when it comes to designing your website and making sure it is fit and proper for purpose. Over to Joel:

Joel Hughes

Revamping your website? Here are 5 killer ideas to consider Your website is a major part of how people get to know about you and your business. Sadly many websites are badly neglected and, generally letting the side down. Why are they neglected? Good question. I think this is a combination of a few things, but mainly, websites are still not a core part of the psyche for many businesses. And because it is not foremost in business’ minds, it gets starved of attention.

 So, if you want to set the record straight & look at your website with a fresh pair of eyes then consider the following:

 1) Who is it for?

 The killer mistake which many people make when it comes to their website is not having a clear vision of who the website is aimed at; who is the target audience? (or audiences for the matter).

 If your answer to this is question is “everyone!” then you simply have not thought hard enough. Without a clear idea of who these people are then, as far the website is concerned, it’s all going to be a bit random (or, more likely, bland & generic), appealing to everyone is the same as appealing to no-one (cue sad trombone noise).

 2) What do THEY want?

Understanding your target audience ‘wants’ is a key ingredient in the cake mix of a successful website. Let’s try to get inside their heads:

What do they want to see/read? what is their buying process? What questions/objections do they have? How can the website help overcome these?

 Once you have answers to these questions then it’s time to critically review your current website; is it succinctly dealing with these points? Pick out any element on the homepage, text, banner, heading etc – is it helping your audience? If not then it either needs to be removed or improved. By removing extraneous elements we give the more meaningful elements on your website space to breath; the flowers in your garden thrive more when you do a bit of weeding (sorry, I love my metaphors!).

 3) Brand 

What is your logo/identity like? Is it up to scratch?  Or was it cobbled together in ‘Word’ a couple of years ago? Does it communicate your core values? Does it resonate with your target audience?  A poor brand is a poor building block for a website (or anything else for that matter). Perhaps now is a good time to re-evaluate that cornerstone of your business?

 (Note: I’ll have to give a shout out to the excellent branding & identity specialist Russ Britton here. He’ll give you some advice and has some great entry-level packages to get this bedrock of your business sorted.)

 4) Personality

What is the personality of your company? Are you a bubbly, outgoing person? Does your website reflect that? Remember that your website will be used by people to validate your message; if what they experience from your website is harmonious with the message they took from you in person then they’ll feel right at home and will be much more likely to take the actions you wish them to perform. If not, then you’ve sent conflicting, confusing messages which will more than likely make them think “oh! I’ll look into this again later, maybe this is the wrong website” 

Even for you shy retiring types who don’t like a camera pointed at them I would strongly urge you to consider raising your profile on the website; don’t automatically adopt the “bland corporate branding” website look where you can be comfortably anonymous. It’s all too easy to go that route. Remember: people buy from people. Get some professional photos taken and make sure that you are a key part of the design of website.

 5) looking wider

It’s been a good few years since I’ve said that my company Jojet is a ‘web design company’. Why? Because websites are just part of the overall solution. To me saying “I make websites’ is like a carpenter saying “I make tenor joints”, yeah a carpenter does this BUT that’s not what they really do. They make chairs, furniture, buildings even,  to make our lives more comfortable.

 There are other ways to help get your message out there and to interact with the world; blogging, Twitter, YouTube etc. We need to reign in our enthusiasm for diving right in and redesigning your website and ask more fundamental questions. 

If (say) blogging is a great option for you then we want to properly incorporate this into your bigger online picture; and it needs to ingrained into your website. Your blog, twitter, Instagram account (or whatever your mix is) needs to be joined up in a logical manner; so that people can frictionlessly move from one channel to the next; deeper engagement will lead to deeper relationships. This frictionless movement only comes about from baking awareness of the greater online strategy into the heart of the web design process.

 Closing Thoughts

Websites are always a work in progress. Just because you can’t afford a full website rebuild does not mean there is nothing you can do. A constant habit of improving key areas on your website will yield dividends in the long-term. Don’t neglect your website any more; show it some love!

 Have fun looking at your website!

 Joel

 Joel Hughes is an Internet Strategist based in South Wales. He helps business’ and professionals work out what is appropriate for them online and then delivers it. This can include training and he regularly runs workshops & seminars on many web related topics. You can contact him here: [email protected], www.jojet.com, twitter @joel_hughes