Websites that Work for You (and ones that don’t) – Part 2
Following the cautionary tale of Slick Steve and Seen-it-all Si (catch up here), we now direct you up the narrow path of ‘websites that work for you’.
Last time, we met Slick Steve Seen-it-all-Si. They may not be characters we can relate to, but ones we probably recognise. We saw that they had both followed different routes but missed the narrow path to achieving websites that work for you.
As we promised, we now reconvene with Wise Wendy to benefit from her wisdom.…
By the way, the continuity types among you will have noticed the very subtle title change. You are great to watch films with, because you cleverly notice every tiny continuity error and very helpfully point them out, during the film. So, well done, but this one is just the practical application of SEO principles that we are preaching (but you knew that anyway, right?)
So, back to Slick Steve….
Slick Steve’s expensive designer website
Slick Steve went with his instincts and focused on how his site looked. It had no real content, all cut and paste stuff that doesn’t really say anything about his products or his brand. The images are to his taste, but maybe not to others – too many pastel polo shirts and gleaming white teeth.
The images are so bright that you feel you need to be wearing sunglasses indoors. That’s right, just like Steve’s cool designer. Unfortunately for them, most viewers are not wearing sunglasses indoors and bounce away from his site, pretty sharpish…
Steve doesn’t know about bounce rates. This means he doesn’t realise he’s paid his designer to post lovely images of happy people that no-one will see. Not unless they know his full web-address that is. His designer unfortunately doesn’t know how to help people find and use his website. He looks cool though, driving his MX5 around town with the roof down. In Winter.
Seen-it-all-Si’s ‘produced by a pal’ website
Seen-it-all-Si went with his instincts – learned from the University of Life. Unfortunately, Si must have missed a few classes on the way, like the one on: ‘skill multiplied by effort equals result’. He also clearly missed the one on: ‘it’s rude to eat with your mouth open’, but that’s another matter.
His website looks, well, musty. There are a wide variety of fonts used and all the images were taken using an old camera-phone. It has that: ‘we think most tech is a fad, so we don’t bother with it’ look. Quite why anyone would bother with his website if he clearly doesn’t, is not something that concerns Si. The reason for his low visitor numbers, high bounce rate and low conversion is – obviously – a global technology conspiracy.
If Si read some material on the subject he would discover that in fact, Google, and other search engines, want to make information available – they just need you to enable them to do it.
Wise Wendy’s website: user-focused Design, SE marketing content and SEO
Remember Wise Wendy? Smart, loves children, kind to animals, makes people laugh – you get the picture.
Wise Wendy has created a checklist for achieving ‘websites that work for you’, so that you can have what she has. A site that is visible and interacts with potential customers, retaining and converting them. She’s happy to share it with you.
We did say she’s both wise and kind.
3 key services – Wise Wendy offers her wisdom on obtaining a website that works for you
Wendy says that design is the bedrock of your web-platform. It is not just about stylish or pretty pictures (remember Slick Steve?). Yes, it should attract attention, but should also include some key processes and some key terms:
- Project specification – initial meetings with your designer should map out the specification for your project. Starting without one, is similar to rushing out on a family road trip without a plan, and we all know what happens then….
- Wire-frame design – also referred to as screen blueprint, page schematic or information hierarchy. A good wire-frame design will ensure that pages are best arranged to achieve what they need to, in a logical and searchable manner. It also applies good SEO principles, ensuring that they don’t conflict or compete against each other.
- Functional tests: All your brilliant content needs to be displayed correctly once the site is complete. Your site should be comprehensively tested on a variety of browsers and devices to pick out any anomalies before going live.
- Speed tests. All pages should be tested to ensure that they are downloadable in 3-5 seconds. Any longer than this and customers will lose patience or assume your site has crashed and search elsewhere.
- Fully searchable. The site should allow access for web crawlers (or bots) so that search engines can index it. The index is the basis of search engine listings. If bots cannot search, the page will not be indexed and won’t be listed at.
- Digital analytical tools – Google Analytics and Web Consol should be enabled with some key reports so that you can analyse how your site is performing. These should include (amongst others): organic levels, bounce rates, average time on site and average number of page views
Service level Agreement (SLA)
Wise Wendy says that an SLA ensures that essential elements are in place that will achieve websites that work for you (remember Seen-it-all-Si?). It will detail what services you can expect from your web designer and ensure that any issues are dealt with in a timely manner. It should cover at a minimum:
- Updates – of security software and plug-ins: These will keep your site fully functioning and safe. With the implementation of GDPR, your obligation to keep customer details safe with up-to-date security software, should be widely understood.
- Full testing: Every aspect of your site should be fully tested, once complete, to ensure everything works as designed. Malfunctioning pages will guarantee increased bounce rates.
- Protection and backup: Server and off server monthly back up, disaster recovery and hack-fix. All of these functions will protect you and your customers. GDPR has highlighted your legal obligation to protect customer data, which makes complete sense anyway given how hard you have worked to collate it.
Search Engine Marketing
- Great Content: Writing good, descriptive and creative content is not easy. A talented copywriter will understand and apply advanced SEO techniques to convey your marketing messages effectively and ensure that your messaging is searchable.
- SEO optimised: Google now requires great content and length of content to achieve high search rankings. Therefore, ensure that each web-page contains at least 500 words and is optimised through Yoast (SEO software provider). Blogs need to be around 1000-1500 words and your copywriter should incorporate some key SEO features into the text. At a minimum it should include: Key phrases, short and longtail focus keywords, meta descriptions, slugs, alt tags, snippet text and SEO title.
- Content audit: conduct a comprehensive audit of current content to analyse what content currently exists, who it is aimed at and whether it achieves the aim. If not, the cycle returns to re-writing copy and applying SEO techniques.
- Social media strategy: Google’s algorithms now demand longer, content filled copy. Research has also shown that longer, content filled Tweets achieve better engagement. Consider who will write your content, what channels will you concentrate on and how often you will post. What are your social media objectives? Once you’ve answered these questions then sketch out a delivery strategy.
- SEO maintenance plan: form a clear plan with regards to SEO maintenance of your site, on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Some tasks will take just a minute, others hours or days, but unless committed to, will fall away. Along with your search engine listing…
- Delivery plan: Social media marketing becomes ineffective if output is sporadic and poorly written. Form a deliver plan as soon as the strategy has been developed covering who will deliver what and how often. Consider whether the content is deliverable in-house, or if it needs to be outsourced.
Knowledge, skill and time – is money
As we can see, Wise Wendy believes that good webdesign relies on the combination of great design, technical knowledge and advanced understanding and application of SEO. But rather than just talk about it, she puts it into practice.
Wise Wendy also realises that anything good takes a bit of time and that both great design and creative content take time. And time is money. Hopefully, you can also see now that it also takes some knowledge and skill. So, to achieve websites that work for you, she suggests you go to someone who can talk her language.
And who’s to argue? She’s wise – just like we said.
Has our blog prompted you to realise you need some assistance with your own webdesign, SEO or website migration? WebAdept have been producing ‘websites that work for you’ for the last 20 yrs! Get in touch with us, we would love to hear from you!