Smpl’s chairman of the board, Bjørn Ivar, reveals what your website needs to drive growth
Firms often come to Smpl asking about website design and development. The conversation usually goes a bit like this (once we’ve all got tea and coffee and biscuits, of course):
- Client: ‘Can you build us a business website?’
- Smpl: ‘Of course. Why?’
- Client: ‘So people can see what we do and get in touch with us, if they want to.’
- Smpl: ‘Are you sure that’s all you want to do?’
- Client: ‘What else do we need a website for?’
- Smpl (cracking knuckles in a purposeful way): ‘Well…’
At this point we start to explain that in 2023 websites should – no, must – be much more than just static pages of basic information.
Of course, if your heart is set on the basics, we’ll suggest some excellent web services where you can achieve all that quickly and cost-effectively.
But, be warned, doing that would be a missed opportunity. Big. Huge. And that’s true no matter what kind of firm you are.
‘To harness the power of your website, you’ve got to ask one Very Big Question…’UX specialist, Bjørn Ivar
What makes a great company website?
Done well, business website design offers a place of great opportunity for you and your firm.
It will create a place where many customer journeys start. Where you:
- build understanding and trust in your brand
- generate leads
- collect data to diversify and optimise your offer
- provide customer service
- … and so many other things
Get this right and you don’t just have a website, you have a dynamic business tool that will build your brand, give you competitive advantage, generate sales, and grow a loyal customer base.
You don’t need to be at the cutting edge of technology to leverage the power of websites. You could be in the most manual, traditional firm on earth and still use your site in all sorts of ways to grow and sustain your business.
But to do this you must first ask one Very Big Question:
What is the purpose of my website?
The answer is usually a mixture of several elements, but you will still need to focus so you can deliver on your customers’ needs.
With that in mind, let’s look at the most common purposes that drive successful business websites.
1. Lead Generation
Some sites – for example, e-commerce – exist to sell you stuff straight away, but this doesn’t work for other businesses.
You might be in an industry where people need time to understand their own needs. They might want to assess your competence or whether you’re the one to deliver what they want (many service industries fall into this bracket).
In this case, your goal is to get people to submit their information, often in return for a ‘fremium’ service (e.g. introductory service modules, specialist reports or templates, a bespoke assessment of their needs, or such like). This allows you to follow-up with a call or email later.
Many providers go much further. Their website design strategy rests on them becoming domain experts.
They do this by offering in-depth (free) education across their area of expertise, building trust and rapport with customers in the process.
Whatever your tactics, a lead gen strategy may well mean sales take place away from your site (unless you are selling a digital service, e.g. SaaS). But no matter where that commercial relationship begins, your site will have been a crucial element of the customer journey.
2. Sales & customer service
If you’re primary purpose is sales, then you need to be thinking differently about your website.
With a sales site, you’ll need to focus more directly on the value customers receive by making a purchase (and, often, the benefits they’ll lose by not buying something there and then).
You’ll need to make sure you can quickly adapt promotional materials (text, photos, videos, etc) and pricing and – crucially – you must offer a streamlined, user-friendly checkout process.
Customer support also needs to be integrated into the site to ensure customers can swiftly follow-up with questions, concerns and, if necessary, returns.
Businesses often don’t pay enough attention to customer support on their websites, which is a big mistake. Poor customer service can do serious damage to your brand. Conversely, you can use it to build loyalty, drive repeat sales, and lower product returns.
3. Other purposes
Lead gen and sales are where many businesses focus their sites, but there are other purposes that we’d be delighted to tell you more about if you drop us a line.
- Information: this is the case for news websites, which often deliver vast volumes of information that they can place ads alongside, while also promoting subscription packages, events, and so on
- Education and entertainment: from training packages to video streaming sites (and everything in between), sites use education and entertainment to make money from purchases, subscriptions, adverts, and more
- Community building: some sites exist to facilitate connections between people, like dating sites, social media, and directory services
- Service delivery: here we’re talking about organisations that are funded and mandated to deliver certain services (e.g. a government department or non-profit organisation)
In each case, different rules, structures and processes will apply if you want to deliver the best possible service for your customers.
What comes next?
Once you’ve got your website purpose clear there’s still more to do if you want a company website that surprises and delights your customers.
You’ll need to consider things like:
- Design & function: your site needs to be visually appealing, polished, and professional, as well as work quickly, correctly, and as expected
- User experience (UX): you need obvious, logical navigation, with structures and search capabilities that cater for those looking for something specific, as well as others just browsing
- Fluency: you need to offer content that is topical, relevant, and engaging for the audience, and deliver it in ways they want and language they understand
- Platform optimisation: you’ve got to look good on desktop, mobile, tablet (or whatever new medium has appeared since you started reading this…)
There’s a lot more to talk about, but I hope this convinces you that great opportunity lies in getting your business website design correct.
If you want to know more about it, we’d be delighted to have a chat about your options. The Smpl coffee and tea and biscuits will be waiting…