Today, I was reviewing a potential client’s sites, looking for ways to improve them. Immediately, there were very noticeable issues to deal with:
- The home page was using text as an image.
- There were pages that were built that had no content
- The different sites used different terms (e.g., venue versus facilities)
- Eight of the sites used the exact same content
- There was no call to action
- There was no immediate way to contact the company
- The navigation varied across each site
- Not all sites were responsive
When building a brand or developing a website or websites under a brand, it is important that there is a flow between sites. Although each site may be autonomous, presenting the brand in a consistent manner is important. The way in which to do this is to review your site(s) and consider the following:
- Is my brand being used appropriately?
- Is it presented in the same way every time?
- What is my message?
- What is the most important “thing” that I want the end users to find?
- Is there a clear call to action on each page?
- Do the content and the images complement each other?
- If I have multiple sites, are they using similar language?
- Is my contact information immediately available?
- Are each of my sites responsive?
While looking at the potential client’s sites, I was confused. Many of the home pages are using “hero” images, but the images didn’t actually fill up the entire screen. Any text on the home pages was actually an image. (This is terrible for Search Engine Optimization.) Plus, the tag lines were obtuse. There was nothing special on the home page that actually told me what the companies do.
Avoid placeholder pages
In general, no website should have “holder” pages or pages that have no content. If there’s no content for the “holder” pages, then they don’t need to be there. It is frustrating to click on a blank page.
Protect your brand through consistency
Brand consistency cannot be overstated. Since the sites are similar, they should use the same terms on every site. The corporate logo should be in the same location on each site. There should be a link to the corporate site.
Having said that, however, the content on each site should be fresh. Google in particular doesn’t like repetitive content and will actually drop page ranking on each site because the content is the same.
There were two entirely different sites for the same entity. Consequently, each site would compete with its sister site. Each site was completely different and used different terms. Among the myriad sites, this is an opportunity to use the same terms and educate end users to the proper terms.
Prompt your visitors to take action
All sites should have a call to action. What do you want your customer to do? Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to email you? Do you want them to make a reservation on line? Do you want them to buy something? In any case, tell them that. “To find out more, call XYZ.” “Take this survey now.” “We can give you personal service. Find out how.” If you don’t ask, there’s no reason to respond.
Tell a story with your content
Content and images are the vehicles that drive websites. If an image is compelling, it is more likely the content will get read. The content and images should complement each other. We are a visual world. Pictures should show the story, while content tells the story. The flip side of that is to use good imagery throughout the entire site to show users how to surf the site.
Make it easy to get in touch
Every website should have contact information readily available. We prefer, at a minimum, to show telephone numbers in the headers. Sometimes, people just want to call to talk to a customer service representative to learn more. On responsive sites, the telephone number should be clickable to in order to dial the company.
Responsive is the baseline
In 2016, all sites should be responsive. In the last year, we have learned that sites that are responsive or that do not fit on multiple devices such as a cell phone, a tablet, and a desktop, lose up to 30 percent of site visitors. People are using multiple devices to access the Internet in larger numbers than at any time before, and if a site is not responsive or cannot be viewed on a cell phone, they move on to another site. Plus, they don’t come back. Ever.
All websites can be improved. But rather be overly concerned about functionality (which will most likely be addressed by programmers and/or developers), understand first what you need your site to do for you. Then, make sure that your brand is protected. After all, in many cases, your website is your first introduction to you market. Put on your best face, put on your best clothes, and attract the visitors you want to your site.