Your website matters to your bottom line. As of 2014, over 80% of buyers researched purchases online first. Over 70% of local searches by shoppers resulted in a local store visit, and almost 80% resulted in in-store purchases. There are over 100 billion searches on Google each month. Make sure when your customers go looking for products or services, you’re there to supply what they need.
Understand your customer
An engaging website starts with your customer’s needs and preferences. Start by understanding who your customer is, and be as specific as possible. What are the demographics? What does your customer care about? What are they looking for? Tailor the look and function of your website to present what you have to offer as the best solution for what they want.
Embody your brand
Who is your business? What does it look like? How does it make your customers feel? Structure the look and feel of your website to support your brand message, from the interactions and structure to the language and images, you want a consistent sense of your brand to be embedded within your website. This raises the confidence of your customers by helping them identify you as a professional and a reliable product or service provider who can be counted on. It also contributes to the likelihood of return visits and purchases. A fun, youthful brand may incorporate bright colors and interactive components or quippy text, while a bargain brand can emphasize their no-frills offering with economy of space and text, and a luxury brand will want to invest in higher-end design along-side aspirational messaging and visuals. Since people are 80% more likely to read content paired with colored graphics, include the use of a stock image website like dreamstime.com to source appropriate graphics that reinforce your brand.
Define your goals
While you need to understand your customer, meet their needs, and communicate your brand consistently and effectively to create an engaging website, at the end of the day, it all comes back to your bottom line. Make sure you define your business goals and incorporate strategic priorities in the design. Including key goals at the development stage generally offers insight into where your goals align with customer needs to highlight opportunities for both to be met. If your website exists to generate leads by providing value to potential clients via content marketing like whitepapers or other downloadables, that’s going to look significantly different than an ecommerce website that exists to make a customer shopping experience as fun and seamless as possible, or a restaurant website that entices customers with sizzling graphics to place reservations, set up advance orders, or simply follow directions to the nearest location.
Make it easy
Engaging websites meet your customer’s needs as seamlessly as possible. That’s going to include functional priorities like fast load times, responsive design that looks and works great on all screen sizes and dimensions including mobile, and accessibility design that provides full service to differently abled customers. Great websites also deliver the content your customers or clients are there for as simply as possible. Honing choices to a manageable selection, whether that’s in navigational choices, content competing for attention, or product/service offerings, is a relief for your customers, and counter-intuitively results in better outcomes than maximum variety.
Make it fun
Create an engaging website that stands out from the crowd by incorporating all the above, and adding that light touch of something extra. Without adding weight or unnecessary complexity to the experience, look for ways to bring in components that surprise and delight users. It may be as simple as refreshing your language to be direct or conversational instead of stiff or full of jargon. It may focus more on light humor or visual levity – once again, a good stock pho to website will offer deep selection and quality images or video. It may be as simple as really leaning into customer needs, defined goals, and simplicity; a frictionless online experience is engaging without needing anything added. Resist the temptation to go overboard here; a light touch is all that’s needed. Elaborate flash animations, splash pages, and heavy humor tend to fall flat or weigh down a website browsing experience.
Businesses that invest in engaging websites are rewarded with happier customers, better interaction with their online properties, and better outcomes for their strategic marketing goals. Stand out from the crowd and make the most of your website with intentional design choices that please your customers, support your targets, and elevate your reputation.