Is your website fit for purpose?
It’s worth considering how people browse the web. More often than not, they are looking for information to help them to make a decision. So, don’t try to entertain them; help them to find the information they need through compelling storytelling and your brand personality. Business only takes place after trust has been won. You can encourage trust through accurate, up-to-date information, demonstrating that you are a trustworthy team with expertise and an effective business strategy, and by making yourself easy to contact. Sites with high quality, accurate information also benefit from better search engine ranking. An investment in great content costs far less than paying search engine ranking companies, and the results last longer.
Our recommendation is always to “keep it simple”. Your home page is the launchpad for your story. You need to create a layout signposting where visitors can find the information that’s important to them. Focus on high level informative content and make sure you are easy to contact. You need to create a clear path to the information visitors need.
An audience-centric approach
With this in mind, you need to specify the key audiences for your website which should include the investment community, media, sustainability community and potential employees. Consider their requirements for information and ensure they can navigate from the home page to this information quickly and easily (this is often referred to as mapping user journeys). This should also form the objectives of the site as well as developing into specific measures of success. The navigation menu should use the wording a visitor would use (not what you would like to use!). It is worth considering the words and phrases people would use to search for you online. Your site needs to encourage loyalty and repeat visits.
Compelling corporate story
Increased authenticity leads to increased trust. Visitors need to trust you, to know there’s a real company behind the site. They don’t want a full blow-by-blow history; they need to be able to skim and find the facts. Professional photography helps to verify your proposition, but avoid stock photography. Above all, make sure you make it easy for visitors to contact you.
You need to explain who you are, what you do, your core purpose, the markets you operate in, your strategy, how you create value, how you are governed, and highlight the expertise of your leadership team. We have other articles surrounding corporate storytelling.
A step often overlooked in the process is checking that people in your target audience can find and use the information on your site, often called usability testing. You may tell a compelling story about your business, but not necessarily in the way a visitor would like to find it. It’s a good idea to pick 4 or 5 people who are not experts on your business and to give them something to find and then watch them try to find it. Don’t talk to them or help or ask questions, just watch them. If they find that task easy, then the site is ready to go live. If not, then you know you still have work to do. These tests should take place long before the site goes live. You don’t want to waste time and money finding out too far down the line that something doesn’t work. You could even use paper mock-ups of the site for testing — a cheaper way to gather feedback.
After the site has gone live you need to continue to collect information to help improve the experience. You should expect to make regular changes and updates to the site. You will have planned the metrics to measure in advance (as mentioned previously), so now is the time to review this information.
Tracking alone is not the answer, you need to TRACK, INTERPRET and ACT upon the feedback.
Learn how the editing and updating tools work using your Content Management System, and put that learning into practice regularly.
Most of the information in this article is pretty much common sense. However, these areas are often overlooked when you are working to a tight deadline to go live. The most successful projects are born from a collaborative approach, and this is something we work closely with our clients to deliver. Once the site has gone live we work with our customers to improve, fine tune and regularly update it based on the intelligence we gather. It’s these forms of partnership and ongoing collaboration with our customers that produce by far the best results.
To find out how we can help you to provide a great user experience, get in touch.