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Website Design

What Not To Do On Your Website

Welcome to your website. You’ve taken a look at it recently, right? Well, you should. You scrutinized it when you were first putting it together, hanging over every word, every photo, and agonizing over space and color options. But that was then. Maybe that was two or three years ago… and things have changed.

 

Two or three years is about it for a website look. They tend to look peaked and tired after that amount of time. So get in there, look around, and freshen that website up!

 

A good place to begin? Your landing page. It’s your introduction to visitors and potential customers. It’s the firm handshake that gives the first impression.

 

Here’s what you don’t want to do: hit them with too much information. Or intimidate them with a learning curve about your business. Or give them too many choices. Or use a lot of industry terms. Each of those things can be intimidating, or potentially turn a customer off, or confuse them, so they’ll end up doing nothing.

 

Nope. Your landing page is going to be fresh and welcoming with a general introduction, short and sweet, just enough to inform and tease your visitors. Save the drill down for specialized interior landing pages where visitors can learn more if they are interested.

 

As for the navigation, well, your mom should be able to easily scroll through it. How many drop-downs and sub-navigation buttons do you have? While you may think it is helpful for people to go directly to pages with deeper info, seeing all this at once can cause instant confusion. Or overload. Or create indecision. And that mean visitor shut-down.

 

If you are guilty of any of these sins, then by all means, fix them.

You aren’t doing a complete website revision. You are freshening your site up. Just top off the tank, reworking trouble spots.

 

Ask others to weigh in from inside your business and outside. Listen to what they say.

 

Now, let’s look at your photos

Please tell us you aren’t using shlock stock. You know, those cheesy stock photos that are filled with pensive people at their desks in casual attire, studying their laptops. Or high-fiving the team. Ugh. Stock photographs are easy to spot. Ditch them. They make you look ingenuous, uncreative, and the worst – like everybody else.

 

It’s easy enough to hire a photographer and take real photos. Of your people. Working in your actual headquarters. Real photos can even be taken by someone on staff that knows her way around photography. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get website-quality photography. After all, there is always cropping.

 

Now — you look like who you are. And even if the pictures aren’t perfect, they will be genuine.

 

What’s your call to action? If it’s hackneyed, or cute, revise it.

 

Shorten up your contact page. People are a lot more hesitant to give out personal data now than they were even a few years ago. So only ask for what you really need, generally, name, company name, email and phone number. That’s really all you need and filling out lots of form spaces feels like work and takes up your visitors’ time. Show them that you value it.

 

Here is a good place to be generous. Provide a download of a whitepaper, or a sample of some kind. Everybody likes free.

 

Bottom line, if you suspect your website needs some work, it probably does. Especially if it’s been awhile since you updated it.

(P.S. We can help with that.)

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The Heartbreak Of Website Ennui

It’s listed on your business cards. Your url is out there. You put a lot of thought (and blood and emotion) into your website. It might even be nice looking and get a few hits. That is, as far as you know. Chances are good that you’ve sort of forgotten about that website in the – what’s it been now, two years? – (wait? Has it really been more than three years?) — since you launched it.

 

It’s really easy to let your website get dusty.

 

But here’s the thing. When your website offers nothing new of interest, with no recent blogs, updates, news releases, or fresh visuals, it gives the strong impression that your company also doesn’t have much of anything fresh or exciting to offer.

 

Don’t let website ennui happen to you, your organization, and your brand. If it’s been awhile since you considered freshening your site, consider how many Apple iPhone updates there have been since your website went live.

 

Cell phone screen sizes have been changing rapidly, and many bells and whistles have been added. People have become more tech savvy. That means they ask more from the websites they visit, too. Your site needs to download lightening-fast, be incredibly visual, graphic, and most of all, easy to navigate, whether you’re visiting via laptop, smart phone, or company desktop.

 

Of course, your website also needs to be secure. Even if you like the way your site looks and it still gets lots of positive feedback, it what’s behind the scenes isn’t up to snuff, your site and a whole lot of important information on it could easily get hacked.

 

The good news is that updating a website has gotten a lot easier to do. You won’t need to assemble an overview committee of ten or pull resources from next quarter’s bonuses.

 

In fact, you can actually start the ball rolling with phone call and a meeting with us. We can tell you what can be tweaked to bring your SEO up to speed, make your site safer and more secure, easier to navigate, or even easier to find.

 

After we meet, you can decide if you want to update a little or a lot.

Begin with the most important stuff, and do the rest in chunks that fit your time, energy, interests, and budget.

 

Trust us, a little change will do you — and your website — a lot of good.

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Adding Video to Your Website Can Bolster Search.

Not only can this be a cost-effective use of good creative work, but it can also help increase traffic to your site. By embedding the video directly to your site – such as on a landing page – you can increase search, keep visitors on your site longer, and increase repeat visits.

In fact, studies show that practically nothing beats the SEO benefits of landing page video right on your domain:

  • Search results found via a video have a 41% higher click-through rate than text alone and 30% higher than still images
  • According to a recent comScore study, “Visitors who view a video stay on average two minutes longer and are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors.”
  • Bingo! Combine high dwell time (staying on the page) with low bounce rates (see below), and you’ll have an enviable SERP — and an increased conversion rate.

That’s because videos tend to make your pages sticky. In other words, they help people pay attention to your site longer. They also tend to remember more about your product after watching.

The average online attention span is less than eight seconds. When visitors click onto your site and then lose interest and click away without moving to another page, you get a high bounce rate.

And that hurts your site’s SERP ranking.

Simply put, a compelling video on your web or blog site is a great way to make people stay. With that in mind, here are some best practices for adding video to your website from the team at FocalPoint:

  • Don’t let your video host monopolize your traffic. Embed video directly to your site. We can show you how.
  • Entice your readers into clicking the video with an engaging preview. Just give them a taste of what is coming up.
  • Use accurate video titles. Don’t deceive your potential viewer.
  • Add text where appropriate to highlight key points
  • Where to place the video is also critical. You want to imbed your video “above the fold,” meaning the imaginary line where users have to scroll to see additional content.

 Keep it short and sweet

In a world where even thoughtful articles get skimmed, videos can be a terrific way to communicate effectively. So, besides being enjoyable to watch, informative, and relatable, they should also be short and to the point. You might also consider adding closed captioning for those who watch videos with their sound off.

So yes, quality video marketing will improve the way you approach SEO to your website. That alone is worth more than all the search engine hacks, tips, and secrets you can dig up.

 

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Web Design - Focal Point Marketing

Now that we’ve set up your website, the real work begins.

Wait, your website is complete.

Isn’t that the goal?

Well, a lot of companies think just that. They set up a nice looking website, print the site URL on all their marketing materials, and move on.

Getting your website set up, well-designed and saying what you want it to say in a compelling way is really the first step in your on-line marketing strategy. Your next step is to make sure your website is working for you now, as well as in the months and years to come.

If you want your website to stay meaningful, you’ve got to keep it relevant.

That’s where managing your website comes into play.

  • Monitoring and tracking visits to determine if visitors do more than arrive, look at your first page and leave. If so, something’s wrong.
  • Make sure your prospects get to the information they are seeking with as few clicks as possible.
  • Make sure there is new material added to the site on a regular basis. That could be blogs, product updates,  special offers, videos, or testimonials.
  • Stay on top of crucial software updates.
  • Execute website backups on a regular basis.

It all comes back to strategic planning, designing your website is just the beginning. It’s the hard work, the know-how and the strategic thinking that keeps your website working for you when it’s brand spanking new, and in the months and years to come.

If you have questions or would like to learn more feel free to reach out to me via email.

brien@focalpoint.co

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Can you help us pull together a website?”

At FocalPoint, the answer is, “Sure, we’d love to be your go-to company on your website project. But let’s talk about this before we get started.”

If this is our first work with a new client, we initiate a lot of conversations before we touch the cursor. We like to think of this as “Website Design and Development 101.” It really is a prerequisite before we begin work.

Why? Because the best place to begin is to really consider why you want a website in the first place.

  • Is this to replace or update an existing site? Why replace it? What was right and what wasn’t about the existing site?
  • What is your single most important message and why?
  • What does the site need to do?
  • Answer questions about what you do or be a resource to provide info or tools to existing customers?

We want to be sure that your website is more than a place to talk about who you are and what you do. If that’s all your website does, it won’t drive traffic. It will probably just sit there as a line on your business card.

For a website to do what it’s supposed to do, it has to:

  • Is your website responsive?
  • Draw you in
  • Provide you with needed information right off the bat. In three minutes, a potential customer should know who you are, what you do, and why your company matters
  • Be strategically engineered to drive readership
  • Built around intuitive navigation (i.e., making your key points easily understood and getting eyes further into the site to provide more information)
  • Set a strategically considered tone with color, visuals and copy.

Once we begin communication with new clients around the strategic design of their website, we often uncover previously undiscussed topics, for instance:

  • What really sets you apart from your competition?
  • How does what you do matter?
  • Does your logo accurately reflect a sense of what you are/what you do?
  • Does your tag line provide memorable new information about your company, or just sit there because you’ve used it for ten years and never thought much about it?

Even after the site work is begun, we’re really just getting started. Because once that website is up, you’ll need to manage it to keep if working for your business, adding fresh content from time to time.

So yes, we can help you build and design that new website. But with us, the site will be much more than new.

It will provide the right information to your audience at the right time. It will drive the right kind of traffic to your business.

It will also provide your potential client with a reason to contact you to learn more.

This is how we think at FocalPoint.

We position our clients strategically to succeed.

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2 Must-Haves for Every 2016 Online Marketing Plan

It’s never too early to write a blog post predicting the keys to a successful online marketing plan for the following year.   After all, the hope is that readers like you will get the message and start taking action now.  Well, I’m here to fill you in on the 2 online marketing plan must-haves that are going to make or break your success in 2016.

 

Before we get started, let me just say that these are two trends that many online marketers saw coming but were still overwhelmed by how fast they happened.  Let me also say that your online marketing plan and marketing strategy needs to include these things because they are not going away.  They will only continue to become more apparent.

1. Multi-Device Consistency and Compatibility

Is your brand represented well on every device?  Businesses who aren’t thinking about this question are getting blindsided everyday when they realize that 30% 40% of their website traffic is coming from smartphones.  And another 8% – 10% from tablets .  All at once they realize that beautiful website design isn’t exactly user friendly for the majority of their potential customers.

We live in a multi-device world.  We watch TV with our iPhone in hand.  We regularly switch from PC to tablet throughout the day.  If a potential customer views your site from their desktop at work, gets distracted and comes back later that night from a smartphone – will the experience be consistent?  It’s no longer a choice.  Responsive website design is here to stay and the customer experience MUST be consistent or sales and leads will be lost.  End of story.

Statistics from a Marketingland.com report:
“Mobile web traffic has grown 50 percent over the past year and now represents more than 25 percent of all internet visits according to a study by Wpromote. The company looked at traffic to 35 of its client sites, including e-tailers, B2B industries and consumer services.

Consumer services was the category with the highest percentage of mobile traffic at 33 percent. B2B sites had the lowest percentage of mobile traffic at 16 percent.

Source: Wpromote

With a much larger sample of sites, StatCounter shows a higher aggregate percentage of mobile traffic in the US market:

  • Desktop: 68.8 percent
  • Smartphone/mobile: 21.4 percent
  • Tablet: 8.7 percent

Recently I was told by mattress retailer Sleep Train that roughly 40 percent of its traffic now comes from mobile devices. This is also true for sites that offer real-world or “local” information (e.g., Yelp, YP). These sites are seeing traffic north of 40 percent from smartphones and tablets.”

Who is doing responsive website design well?
Take a look at WeAreIU.com.  It’s a website all about helping Indiana University upcoming freshmen prepare for the college experience. The majority of the content is written by students, for students.  The mobile version of the site features a condensed menu with the “Must Reads” front and center using large text that makes it easily clickable.  The content is the start on this website and they make the best stuff easy to find.

WeAreIU

Make Your Website Look Great on Smartphones

Ready to talk about a responsive website design for your business?  Get in touch with Focal Point here to chat.

2. Visual Approach to Social Media Marketing

I don’t need to cover the importance of social media marketing.  By now, you’ve heard it a million times and you get it.  But what I can tell you is that social media marketing skills are going to become like Microsoft Office skills – every new hire is going to need to have them.  It’s just that important.  The other thing that I can tell you is that having a visual marketing strategy for your business is going to be the most critical thing to your success on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

These social media sites continue to make changes that put more and more emphasis on images and videos.  This isn’t going to change anytime soon.  Facebook continues to increase the size of images in its news feed.  Twitter recently made changes to the way its images are displayed, added filters, etc.  Google Plus allows its users to show off their photography skills like never before.  Instagram continues to grow in popularity along with Pinterest.  Is your company adapting to these changes?  Are you using video and images to tell your story?

Stats about Visual Content Marketing:
Hubspot put out an article about the effectiveness of using images and videos in content marketing entitled 19 Reasons You Should Include Visual Content in Your Marketing [Data] back in 2012 (hint hint – you should be doing these things by now) and the trends mentioned have only become more true today.  Here are a few of my favorite points:

15) Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them. (Source: MarketingSherpa16) Mobile video viewing increased 35% from 2010 to 2011. (Source:Nielsen)

17) 25 million smartphone users stream 4 hours of mobile video per month. 75% of smartphone users watch videos on their phones, 26% of whom use video at least once a day. (Sources: Ooyala and Ipsos)

18) Mobile video subscription is expected to hit $16 billion in revenue by 2014, with over 500 million subscribers. (Source: Ooyala)

19) Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. (Source: Internet Retailer)


Who is using visual social media marketing well?
Remember Dollar Shave Club?  They’re the ones who had to wildly popular video that went viral back in 2012 (go here for a reminder).  Well, they’re still at it and doing a great job with their social media marketing strategy.  Take a look at the example below.  Simple.  Funny.  Best yet, it gets interaction and drives sales.  This one FB post had 276 likes, 44 comments and 25 shares.  Not bad for a post about razor blades!

Dollar Shave Club

Ready to talk about your visual content marketing?

Focal Point can help you share your story through the use of stunning photography and video that can be incorporated into your social media marketing strategy.  Contact us today to talk about your visual online marketing strategy!

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