The Internet is one of the greatest tools available to professionals these days. Businesses can use the Web to grow and prosper. This is so obvious that you don’t even need to make the case anymore. The obviousness of the Internet’s importance has only increased our confusion as to why there are so many websites that are, for all intents and purposes, being designed to fail. Companies are using websites and Web marketing techniques that ensure that the company will not be able to attract customers.
We have spent a lot of time in the industry and the reason behind this is clear to us. Too many people still think of the Internet simply as a tool. They think of it as something that simply performs a function. They don’t focus on the design as long as the website is fulfilling a purpose. This, to us, seems to be a broken way of thinking. It is like saying a restaurant doesn’t have to focus on their dining area as long as they sell food. Sure, the basic function of a restaurant is to serve food, but no one would like to sit in a drab and lifeless restaurant to eat. Would you? What about an interaction with customers and the experience they get when dealing with your business? They are both vital for the success of businesses offline and online.
Why Many People Misunderstand Web Design, Development, and Marketing
The most interesting insight about this mindset is that it’s usually observed in:
- People who started using the Web early
- People who started using it too late.
These people aren’t wrong; they just have a fundamentally different view of what the Internet is supposed to be. The ’90s were one of the worst times for Web design, because it was new. The ’90s were the first time that websites were being made for your average home user. People had no idea what home users would like and there were no guidelines to what makes a website good.
There was also no role of a ‘Web designer.’ Web developers stood in for designers and that should be enough to make you realize how bad it was (Just in case developers think this is a slight against them: Imagine designers having to code and shudder). These days we have a lot of great people and companies creating Web experiences and Web interfaces that are not only a work of art, but also work for their users in the best way. There is a simple reason so many people fail to realize how important proper Web design and development is; they think of the Internet as a point of reference. Back in the ’90s you went online to chat with people and check your e-mail. You would mostly just visit other websites for news or when you were looking for a piece of information.
The Internet wasn’t art, it wasn’t entertainment, it wasn’t a medium, it wasn’t a business; it was a medium you could consult when you wanted information. Thus, as long as the website did what it was supposed to, no one cared how well designed it was. The fact that anything was being done online was amazing in itself. Consider the people who started using the Internet too late. They didn’t want to hop on the Internet bandwagon, but it became inevitable. They also think of the Internet as utility. They think having a website is what is important and don’t really know that having a bad online presence is worse than not having an online presence at all.
Your Business Will Fail If You Do Not Focus on Web Design
Business owners need to understand their business will fail if they do not have a good online presence, even if they are running a good business offline. There is a very simple reason why this is true: almost everyone now searches online before making a purchase. Think of the last thing you bought from a new place without searching for it a bit. If people are interested in your products or your company they are going to go to a search engine and search. If they find a website that isn’t properly made or looks ugly, they are going to have a negative perception of your company.
Your online presence is usually the first thing people see about your company. Most people will not walk into your office or store without checking the Internet first. Most people will not just call you up without checking your website for the information they need. It isn’t that these people are judging your business totally through your online presence; the real problem is that your online presence is just the first thing they interact with. They judge you by your online presence, because it is the only thing they know about your company. Companies spend a lot on their stores and offices, because they know that their points of purchase need to look good and attractive enough for customers to do good business.
Think about it like this: You have to go to two meetings; one is in a good office which has a nice interior and the other is in a dirty office that is poorly designed, which company are you more liable to have positive opinions of? Your online presence is just as important as your physical location. It may even be more important than your physical outlets, because many people will simply be turned away by your website and will not ever come to your store or office.
9 Tips For Businesses to Get Better Online
We have worked with thousands of clients and have completed multiple projects for them. All this experience has given us an understanding of what you need to do to succeed online. You need to make sure that all parts of your online presence work well and are equally important for your success. Here are some truths about what you need to do to beat the competition.
SEO is dead. Long Live SEO. SEO is extremely important to make your website and business successful yet at the same time, SEO, for all intents and purposes, is dead. SEO used to be a way to manipulate search engines. There were theories and formulas about how if you used a certain word a certain number of times your page rank would go up. People would stuff keywords in the website copy as the manipulation of search results was their main objective.
This practice is no longer viable and not possible anymore. The issue is that it was making search engine results worse for the regular user. People use search engines to find the best page, not the page that manipulated the results the most. Search engines have begun penalizing websites that employ what used to be basic SEO techniques in the past. What used to be the norm is now considered black hat. That doesn’t mean you can skip out on SEO though.
SEO these days makes a website appear attractive for people. The most relevant websites go up in the SERPs, without any manipulation like in the early days. Now content is king. This basically means that your website genuinely needs to have interesting content on it, and it also has to get some social media traction. This is why any good SEO company will also do content marketing and social media marketing for your company. The side effect is making your website better for the readers, which is very good. People will keep coming back to your website, because they are interested in the content.
Social Media is the media to be on. If you want to promote your business then you need to be on social media. Social media does not seem to be very important to people who have been using the Web before social media was a thing. For people who started using the Internet in the last decade, social media is the Internet. This isn’t even an exaggeration. It was first noticed in Indonesia by LIRNEasia, a think tank that focuses on technology and the Internet. The think tank was looking at the results of their survey and found something peculiar.
It discovered that the number of people who said they used Facebook was higher than the number of people who said they used the Internet. The first assumption was that the data was wrong, but everything checked out. The same thing was then seen in data from Philippines, Thailand, and Myanmar. Then the countries just kept increasing. The think tank discovered that millions of people in India, Brazil, Nigeria, and many other countries thought that Facebook was the Internet. They never opened their browsers to go to a website. Some didn’t even know they were using the Internet when they used Facebook.
Countries in the western hemisphere do not have this issue. Still, they spend more time online on social media than they do on any other part of the Web. Many people search for things on Twitter and Facebook, because they don’t want to see the website of the company; they just want to see what other people say about the product/service. It is necessary to have a social media presence for any company in any industry if they want to attract new clients online.
Video is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have. It is also ridiculously easy to create and edit nowadays. The text content on your website and in your marketing materials is important, so put an effort into creating compelling content. Even the smallest company in the world can easily get excellent content by hiring a copywriter, a blogger or creating it themselves.
Video is the next best thing to gain trust of potential customers, showcasing your business and its people. Customers love meeting someone face-to-face, even online. A simple video, outlining your business, and showing how you work will do wonders for your company. The minute you put a face to your company in the minds of the customers they will begin to trust you. No one can fake video – not cheaply anyway. Thus, people believe what they see in the videos. Put some of your corporate/product videos on YouTube and make sure they are interesting. You will get a social media and search engine boost unlike any other. We do recommend our clients focus on it.
Mobile Web Development is more important than Web development for computers. We design websites with computer screens and mobile devices in mind. In 2015, Google reported that in 10 countries (including USA and Japan), mobile usage of Google’s search had surpassed normal Web usage. The same is gradually becoming true for all over the world as mobile search’s share in Internet data increases every year. Most people today simply search for information about your company on their phones and tablets. If your website doesn’t load correctly on their mobile devices, they simply will switch to another website of your competitor and you will lose a customer.
Site Promotion is too important to skip out on. There are businesses that invest a lot in developing a robust Web presence, but then they do not promote their websites. Imagine what would happen if you opened a new store and did not put up any advertisements. No one would come to your store, because they wouldn’t know about it. The same thing happens with websites that are not advertised, except it is even worse. It is worse, because with stores at least there is a chance that someone passing by would look at your store and become curious about it. With websites, people will only know about it if someone tells them the URL, and that is your job. You need to make sure people know about your company’s website. You need to focus on converting them into customers, but first you need to make them visit your website and interact with it.
Web Design no longer means flashy, now it means sleek. We often get clients who want to create websites that are full of video and heavy media, but that isn’t a good Web design. If you are a company that is trying to sell a particular image to a younger audience, or if you work in media, then you should go for a media heavy website. For most people though, a website heavy on media is a website that is too slow for them to load. You don’t want to make those who have a bad Internet connection wait too long while all the media on your website loads up. There is too big a chance that they will just decide that your website is too slow and go back to the search results to see what other options they have.
Partnerships are the future of business, online and offline. The Wild Wild West days of the Internet are coming to an end. The previous two decades were the first two decades of online commerce. It was easy to differentiate yourself from the competition and gain prominence online. It isn’t so easy now. When every company is on the Web simply having good online presence is not enough. The Internet hasn’t diminished the importance of having good relationships with business partners; it has made it necessary and easy to do so.
Integrate your business with partner’s services and you will succeed online. If you want to beat the competition, you have to provide better products at better prices. One of the easiest ways to cut costs while increasing quality is a better relationship with partners, use of their services in your business in the way that helps you add up benefits to your present and new customers. Successful companies have integrated their partners into themselves. Such work, if done correctly, goes on so smoothly that at times it is hard to see for an outside observer where one company ends and the other one begins. All that matters is a flawless user experience and customer satisfaction.
The Web is constantly evolving. Trends and fads on the Internet change in a manner of days. It is the fastest medium of communication we have and is also the one that changes its norms the quickest. Make sure you aren’t left out of a major trend, but be cautious of joining in too late. You need to stay on top of the news in technology and business in order to stay on top of your game. It is always possible for a competitor to use a new technology to totally disrupt your business model. The only protection you have from innovative companies is being innovative yourself.
The biggest mistake you can make is standing still. There was a time when consistency was a good thing. A company that still served you like it used to do a decade ago was proud of the fact. This isn’t true anymore. You need to keep changing your business processes and you need to keep incorporating the latest technologies in it. This allows you to stay lean, effective, highly productive and successful as time goes on.
Even if your business thinking is only a few years old you simply can’t rely solely on your judgment and experience. Businesses need to understand the fluid nature of the Web and thus must always use Web experts to implement best possible online presence for their businesses. Keep your business modular and keep integrating the latest technologies and services to it for the benefit of your customers. If you want your business to grow like a giant and survive for decades, then simply don’t stop making yourself and your business better. The online presence of your business, website and its effective promotion are things to take seriously if you want to succeed today.
by Maria Savenko