Sachin Karweer, Business Head – HGS-Interactive
This is an excerpt of a new series of India’s Leaderspeak with TVNEWS4U LEADERSPEAK: Think Digital With HGS Interactive Business Head Sachin Karweer. It is reproduced here with permission.
In a June 1 blog, we discussed why your business needs a digital marketing strategy. Now that (I hope) you’re convinced it’s important to have a good digital plan in place, it’s time to focus on specifics. Remember how we used to cringe at the sound of squeaking chalk on the blackboard, as kids in school? Well, that’s just the kind of effect a badly designed website has on me. So this time round, let’s talk website design.
One great business leader with a truly instinctive and great eye for design, Steve Jobs, once said, “Design is not what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” This also holds true for a website, which needs to be functional. Otherwise, how is web design any different than art?
After all, it takes a mere 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for a user to form an opinion about your website and to decide whether to stay on it or leave. You want to make sure that they decide to stay, as websites are a crucial marketing vehicle that can induce visitors to engage in a meaningful dialogue with your company. Let me highlight some signs that tell me your website definitely needs a revamp:
Obsolete User Experience: Is your website cluttered with a lot of text and stock images? It’s time to change that. We now live in a world where it is all about clean designs with a focus on communication and networking. I know generalizations are odious, but I truly believe that less is more. Cut the clutter, keep your website nice and clean with just the required images and text for the purpose of the page at hand.
Ir-responsive: OK, that’s a word I’ve coined, but I did need one to sound as drastic as “irresponsible ,” because if your website isn’t mobile device responsive, well, that’s sheer irresponsibility.
Smartphones have been around for several years now, and if your website was built any time earlier than a year before now, it’s probably not responsive, and therefore doesn’t serve your content in a mobile-device adaptive manner. If your website isn’t mobile responsive, not only will your customers leave you, but they will file that unfriendly fact about your website in their mental home pages, and will probably never return. In today’s instinctive times of split second decisions, nobody has the time to wait for your site to load.
Poor search engine ranking: Google’s Mobilegeddon from last year made it very clear that non-mobile-friendly websites would be penalized, and pretty badly, at that. It is essential that search engines know of your existence and index your content. Build an SEO-smart and, therefore, search-engine-friendly website. That can help enable visitors to find your site and let them stay, thereby increasing your lead database.
Embarrassing layout and design: Intuitive design is how you baffle the end users by making them think, “How did the brand know what I’m thinking?!” A great website design instills trust in your business. Studies of user behavior have found that visual appeal and website navigation have the greatest influence on people’s first impressions of your brand.
Slower than a snail: Nothing is more frustrating than slow processing speeds and pages that take forever to download. A total of 47% of customers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of these customers will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. So it is well worth whatever time and resources you need to spend to improve your website’s speed.
Wrong landing pages: Imagine promoting an offer, only to see that the offer URL leads people to the contact page, where they have no clue what’s to be done. It is necessary that you authenticate landing pages. You must follow up on any suggestions you made in the advertisement or inbound link while directing a visitor to a landing page. Nothing is worse for the reputation of your company than failing to follow through with a promise you made somewhere else.
Re-branding or new marketing goals: When you launch a website, it can be difficult to tell which features are necessary and which are superfluous. Functions, features, and pages that were useful when you started out may hold no value later.
Tech-savvy competitors: If your competitors have changed their website which has improved their rankings substantially and pushed yours down, it is necessary for you to make some modifications to your website— whether in design, structure, SEO, or a combination of all. Remember, great web design is good business.
To compete in today’s marketplace, your business needs to look at your website as an evolving living being – one that needs to be fed good content, filled with hearty signposts guiding visitors, and not only taking care of their needs, but ensuring newer needs are created in them. Nurturing a website is an ongoing process, and by doing so, you are setting the stage for a fantastic user experience that will contribute to better website conversions in the digital space. So go, visit that super successful competitor’s website again, with an even more open and better informed mind. Then give your own website a critical once-over.