The practical business’ guide to creating a new website
Here at Moneypenny we like to be different. Good different. We like to stand out from the crowd and get people talking. For all the right reasons.
What wasn’t standing out from the crowd at the end of 2013 was our website. Tired and copy-heavy, a combination of these, together with copy-cat marketing by others, meant our site had become lost in a homogenised marketplace.
A website is your shop front
Websites are the first opportunity to make the right first impression. Our brief was to create a website that represents the way we do things. Better, clearer and more inspiring than any of our competitors – to give people 110% confidence in our offering.
The challenge for every business: staying one step ahead of the digital revolution
Our digital team make it their business to know anything and everything about the latest online initiatives. After six months of research and development, trial and error, we’ve put together five things to consider when building your next website:
- It all starts with the right supplier
Historically, we’ve developed websites in-house, as well as having used large digital agencies. Our latest endeavour enlisted the services of an independent freelancer. Health warning: unless you are prepared to be 100% hands-off, and happy just to pay the invoice upon delivery, it’s important that you’re involved in the entire design and build process of your website from start to finish. You know your target audience better than anyone else – even web developers – so be sure to outline all pages required from the outset and offer feedback on everything – from imagery used to visual movement and usability. If your supplier is managing your SEO requirements it’s a bonus. If not, make sure anyone involved in this side of your website is heavily involved, ensuring all links are properly re-directed and that everything is working correctly behind the scenes.
- Get to know responsive design
In a nutshell, this is a developmental ‘response’ to the multiple ways in which we as consumers are now viewing websites. PCs and even laptops are falling well behind smart phone and tablet usage (Ofcom estimates that 58% of the UK population has a smartphone and, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 2.1 billion people access the web globally via mobile broadband). View our website on a PC and reduce the browsing window down steadily to mobile. You’ll notice there are ‘break points’, which allow the site to reconfigure for what would be tablets and mobiles. Since introducing a responsive website, our bounce rates have decreased by 20%. All we can say is ignore mobile and tablet users at your peril!
- Handle content and usability with caution
Our old website followed what has become a relatively traditional format: introductory headline and supporting image, followed by up to three paragraphs of copy. User experience is one of Google’s key ranking factors, making it important when it comes to conversions. For this reason, some of the main objectives of our new site were to: make sure content is short, to the point and easy to digest; introduce multiple tabs and/or bullet points rather than use lengthy paragraphs; and last but not least, to deliver information in different ways, such as videos and scrollers. We were also careful not to make the user journey confusing by creating unnecessary pages.
- Push for the power to edit and update
It’s all well and good having an amazing website – better still if you’re able to edit all aspects of it yourself. We’ve trialled numerous content management systems. For our latest website, we decided to use WordPress. Why? Having evolved from a simple blogging platform, WordPress remains an easy system to use in terms of updating content and uploading imagery. In addition, there is also a range of plugins that make some of the more complicated aspects of website maintenance easier to implement. For example, user-friendly SEO plugins (normally found via online recommendations) allow you optimise each page in terms of meta data, rather than having to rely on developers all the time.
- Your work is never done. Keep it fresh
Hooray! Once your website is live, it can be well-deservedly ticked off your list. WRONG. Google favours websites whose content changes regularly – it assumes you’re always providing visitors with up-to-date information. It’s vital therefore that you can edit your site easily. Set yourself a challenge to test what works and what doesn’t. For example, simply by changing the introductory wording on your contact form can increase conversions. Checking to see whether your changes are having a positive effect can be done easily via Google Analytics: a goldmine of information on traffic to your site and their browsing habits.
We wanted a clean, minimal look to our website that would exceed the needs and expectations of the modern consumer. In today’s world, this is someone who’s on the go and who wants clear concise information at their fingertips. Focusing on who we are and what we do has allowed us to develop a website to similar standards: one that stands out from the crowd, pushes the boundaries, and is future-proof… for the next few years at least.