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Creating an Effective Website

Creating an Effective Website-1

Entrepreneurs wear many hats – accountant, salesperson, human resources, etc. To add “webmaster” to this list may seem daunting. Even with helpful web tools such as WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace, designing and maintaining a successful website proves a challenging albeit fruitful and powerful effort that can take your company to new heights.

Whether your website has been around for years or if your website is still in the planning stage, AlphaGraphics Omaha has a few crucial tips for making your website an effective tool for growing your business.

Marketing Strategy to Save Money and Patience

Creating a website for your business is critical for many reasons; among them is the fact that having a website lends credibility to your company. A website also provides a digital storefront in an age where consumers increasingly do their window shopping online. In fact, a website makes your company available to consumers 24/7, granting you immeasurable flexibility. Positive customer testimonials make business websites particularly effective as well.

Perhaps more important that simply having a business website is ensuring that your business website is good. A well-structured, SEO-optimized, and professionally-designed website can make a 1-man operation appear much larger and more powerful. Company websites that are visually unappealing, impossible to find, and poorly maintained will actually hurt your business – you will drive your prospects away. While it is better to have no website than to have a bad website, a business is simply harming itself if it lacks a web presence.

Your website will most likely provide customers with their first impression of your business. What sort of impression do you want to make?

Need-to-Know Details

There are many attributes that make an effective, successful website. To communicate this clearly, AlphaGraphics Omaha has made a 5-point checklist that can guide your web design efforts:

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1. Make sure your content provides value.

A successful first impression of your business will communicate the essence of what your company does in a brief, positive, and memorable way (like a sales pitch). Well-constructed websites are particularly effective at serving this purpose. The content you add to your site, then, must provide value.

Your website’s homepage must “scream the basics” at all who land there – in other words, visitors must know basic information about your business as soon as they arrive on your homepage. Company name, general location, contact information, and best-known products/services should be easily accessible as soon as the homepage loads. Engage your audience immediately by using dynamic photos that are relevant to your business.

A good rule of thumb is to “write for the scanners,” or people who will just skim your website to learn about your company. Be snappy and concise using bold headlines, bullets, small paragraphs, and attention-grabbing images. Don’t forget to also design your website for “above the fold” viewing. In other words, structure your website so that any content that is immediately viewable in the browser window upon pageload is enticing enough for visitors to scroll down and learn more about your company.

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2. Follow the 3-second rule.

The 3-second rule for websites is as follows: If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, then it’s taking too long. Most visitors to your website will only wait 3 seconds for your website to load before they move on to someone else’s website. Websites that break the 3-second rule need to be cleaned up and streamlined. A simple and effective way of doing this is optimizing your images – after all, the fewer image bytes the browser has to download, the faster the browser can upload your website.

Effective means of image optimization for loading speed differ depending on the image in question. For instance, your company’s logo should be crisp and readable no matter what the size of the viewer’s browser window may be. Saving/uploading your logo as an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) will ensure that your logo remains both functional and easy to load. SVGs are made in Adobe Illustrator.

Unlike SVGs, raster graphics are best optimized in Adobe Photoshop. To improve your raster images, you can use Photoshop to reduce the bit depth of your image from 32-bit (or 16 million colors) to 7-bit (128 colors) to even 5-bit (32 colors). Lastly, you can scale the image to the needed dimensions. If the “natural size” of the image is 220px by 220 px but only needs to display at 100px by 100px on the website, the browser must translate an extra 8400 unnecessary pixels, which increases page load time.

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3. Keep your website updated.

Most effective websites ensure that their visitors have a reason to come back for more. After all, your prospects may seek out a competitor’s website if it appears as though your site hasn’t been updated in a couple years. Not only does a consistently updated website engage and attract more visitors, but it positively affects your site’s search engine ranking.

Blogs are a common means by which to update your website. In a blog post, you can share knowledge with your customers in the way of an article or video. Another way to refresh your website with content is to broadcast sales information. Mentioning your latest deals will undoubtedly earn you repeat website visitors.

Above all, be sure to announce website updates through your active social media accounts. By posting updates with links to your website on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can drive your social media presence while drawing attention to your site.

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4. Design for mobile devices.

Increased use of mobile smart devices has indelibly impacted the Web such that any site wishing to remain relevant must contain responsive web design. Responsive web design is the capacity for a website to change its appearance to fit the size of the screen it is viewed on. A prospect may very well look to a competitor if your website is cut off or looks half-complete on their phone screen.

Website building tools such as WordPress have responsive web design capabilities built into them, making them a solid contender for starting your site. More “do-it-yourself” site-building methods – such as Adobe Dreamweaver – have an apparatus in place that allows for greater creativity and flexibility for responsive web design.

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5. Optimize for SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (otherwise known as “SEO”) is an undeniably crucial component of web design and online marketing. Boosting your site’s SEO can be accomplished in a number of ways: Along with keeping your website updated, fixing any broken links shows that your website is well-maintained, which will also positively affect your SEO rankings. Increasing your pageload speed, too, is a key way to bolster your SEO. A shorter pageload time makes your site easier to visit and makes it simpler for search engines to index it.

Sometimes overlooked in SEO strategy is image optimization. While decreasing the dimensions and resolution of your images certainly increases pageload speeds, properly naming your images can be a boon as well. For instance, an article featuring a digital press on a printing website would benefit greatly from an image file named “4-color-press-cmyk.” If this image file were named “IMG_645000,” this would be less helpful for your SEO because its name doesn’t pertain to the page’s text and content.

Key Points to Remember

In summary:

1. Ensure your content provides value.
2. Follow the 3-second rule.
3. Keep your website updated.
4. Design for mobile devices.
5. Optimize for SEO.

Other info and References

What follows are a couple helpful assets for improving your website’s effectiveness:

  1. Google’s Page Speed Insights
    Type in your website’s URL in the text bar and click “ANALYZE”. This engine will show you where your SEO strengths and weaknesses are and give you a score out of 100. You should aim for a score of at least 85/100. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
  2. SVGO
    This plugin allows you to “minify” or optimize your SVG files for web use. This important tool can modify important files such as your logo so they are easier for your site to process. https://github.com/svg/svgo/
  3. Google Analytics
    Google Analytics is an essential tool for any webmaster looking to track their site’s effectiveness. By placing a block of text at the header of each webpage (easily done via WordPress plugins like MonsterInsights or in programs like Adobe Dreamweaver), you can view the number of pageviews for your website, see where your site visitors are coming from, determine how long they are staying on your website, etc. https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/provision/?authuser=0#provision/SignUp/

 

AlphaGraphics Omaha
2211 S. 156th Circle, Ste. 3
Omaha, NE 68130
(402) 333-8869

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