By Marcus Smith
I have been involved in creating, designing, or managing websites since the internet first was introduced to the general public in the 90’s. It was truly a groundbreaking era; when America Online & Yahoo reigned supreme and the screeching of your computer meant something inspiring was about to happen. Ever since Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan ‘Got Mail’ I’ve been helping people and businesses unveil their digital presence on the World Wide Web.
For some, this makes me a dinosaur; to others, an expert. I only consider myself blessed to live in such a generation that I remember what it was like without the Internet; when we didn’t have the information superhighway. Why, you ask? Because it gives me a baseline perspective on how wonderful it is to have the world at our fingertips. It helps me remember when Google used to be called “The Phone Book” or “Encyclopedia Britannica” that weighed 40 lbs versus my smartphone that weighs 5.9 ounces.
Its amazing how far we’ve come in the last 30 years. Since 1984 to 2014, the advancements in websites and digital presence like mobile devices, responsive design, social media, etc have been awesome. In 1984 when I was just a kid getting ready to enter puberty, my ‘social network’ only spanned maybe 100 people total, and that’s including my great uncle Dale. Today, I can reach out to almost every person on the planet, as long as they have access to the internet.
Currently, there are more than 644 MILLION active websites on the internet. From businesses, to sports, to gambling, to social interaction, there’s practically a website for anything and everything.
But, are they all successful? Sadly, the answer is no. Just like life, websites are created each day, & die each day. For as many beautiful websites are launched every single hour, there are many more that are just living a sad, lonely existence; with no visitors, high bounce rates, & no love from search engine friends like Google, Bing, & Yahoo.
What makes a successful website?
I have seen so many individuals and businesses believe that if they just get a new website launched, then everyone will gravitate there, and leads and sales will come in droves. That may be true, but there are four often overlooked, key ingredients that you must have to make your website successful. I will reveal these over the next several days to give you insight to what makes a successful website.
STEP 1: Beautiful Design
Undeniably the first thing you must have is a beautiful website design. Without it, visitors to your site will enter, get bored or disgusted, and leave immediately, causing a high bounce rate. Consider your audience first. Who am I catering to? Who is the demographic I am marketing to? What do they want to see? What information do they need when they arrive? Once you have a design in place, ask others’ opinions. If you want to go extreme, get a focus group together of your key demographic and ask them what they think of the website BEFORE it goes live. At a minimum, get someone who can be objective to look at your site and ask the tough questions. Does it make you want to buy something? Does it make you want to come back? Does it encourage you to make a phone call. Whatever the site is meant to do, it must be designed to do.
Now, don’t think I’m getting weird here, but when your website goes live, it is ALIVE. It breathes in visitors, and breathes out Return On Investment. It grows or dies as it is fed or neglected. A beautiful website not only attracts visitors, it attracts you. So study it, consider what it needs to be better. How can you improve the home page? What would make it more attractive? Does putting make up on in the morning make a woman more attractive to herself and others? absolutely. So pretty up your website. It’s not just so you can say, “oh yeah we have a website.”
The majority of people are unhappy with the appearance of their website, sometimes even embarrassed of it. If you are in the majority, CHANGE IT! Find a great new web designer and bring your website up to par with your business. Actually use your website as the bar you set for yourself. If you use what’s on your website as a goal to reach for your business each day, then you will ultimately have a successful website AND a successful business.
Providing award winning web design, print advertising, aerial photography & video and mobile apps to The Woodlands, Houston, Dallas Fort Worth, Austin & San Antonio. Newton is championing the cause for our clients; creating innovative and amazing ways to market their business. Let’s see what we can create for you, too. visit us at www.DesignByNewton.com
Marcus Smith is Digital Marketing Manager & Division Manager for Dallas/Fort Worth. He loves to help businesses see success with websites, SEO/SEM/PPC & all types of advertising & marketing. In his spare time, he loves to spend time with his wife and 5 children; four sons & one daughter.