Our guide to what makes a great website.

Most people know a great website when they see one. But figuring out exactly what makes it great can be more difficult.

If you run a company based around providing services it can be hard to work out how to position yourself online. Here is our list of the five key ingredients that make up a great service business website.

1. Design, tech and copy: the three pillars of any website

A great website has three things: good design, efficient technology backing it up, and compelling copy.

You can start with any one of these ingredients, but you can’t leave any of them out. If you focus on design and don’t invest in decent copy to match it will show. Develop fabulous copy but neglect design and it’s a complete waste of time. And technology overshadowing design can be truly unnavigable.

Design, technology and copy have a symbiotic relationship in any website and each needs to be considered right from the beginning so they work effectively together.

2. Start with the user

Bad websites invariably have one thing in common: they don’t start by asking who the potential audience is and what they’ve come to the site to do. Instead, they’ll more likely begin with a great design or a punchy tagline or, most commonly of all, with a long-winded description of how fantastic the website owner is.

User experience (UX) should be the foundation for everything. The secret is in the planning.

Structure is key, so start with a sitemap. Think of the key pieces of information you need, and the journey you want users to have through your site. How you can make it easy for them to find the information they’re after?

Usually for a business that starts with making your contact information easy to find.

But don’t think that people always want to get in and out. Most of us are more than happy to be distracted, so long as it’s with interesting, relevant and valuable information.

3. Make your website original

Many companies take an approach to web design that simply means slapping together something that makes them indistinguishable from their competitors. If you don’t believe us, visit the websites of pretty much every major law or accounting firm. If you want to convert browsers into clients you need to give them at least a little bit of a feeling for who you are and what makes you different. Again, that doesn’t mean simply saying ‘we’re different’ several times in your copy. It means working out what what sets you apart and then planning to keep that message consistent through your site by showing rather than telling.

And while we’re on the subject of being original, please, please, don’t use obvious stock imagery.  We know this meeting didn’t happen at your company. We know this guy isn’t your client. And we know you didn’t help this couple with their estate planning or financial plan. Make the visuals on your site a true reflection of who you you are, what you do, and most importantly of all, how you can help. Speaking of which…

4. Don’t just talk about yourself

It can be tempting to say that no one does it like you. And it’s probably true. But when it comes to putting down your words don’t simply think about your skills – think about what your skills mean for your clients and the service they’re after. Talk more about the end result, less about yourself.

For instance, the bios of staff members on your website should focus on services. And while they can reference skills and qualifications they shouldn’t read like a CV.

5. Keep moving

Your website isn’t a novel that, once published, can’t be changed until the next print run. Think of it as a work in progress – it shouldn’t be static.

It should be easy to get into your CMS and keep your website content completely up to date. Ongoing maintenance is key. Make sure any staff changes are reflected in your employee profiles pages and make sure your services content reflects what you want to be doing today and tomorrow, not what you did yesterday.

And your website is just one part of your marketing plan. Invest the time and energy in creating a blog with content relevant to potential and existing clients, then link this to a regular eNewsletter, as well as your social media and other distribution channels. After all this is probably going to be the main driver of traffic to your website, both directly and indirectly.

Directly, it  will draw traffic to you as people click on links to your articles and end up on your website. Indirectly, good quality original content will work wonders for your SEO.

Do you need a new website but you’re not sure where to begin? Contact us today.

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