How to Build a Killer Business Website: Do’s & Don’ts
Websites come in all shapes and sizes. They can be super simple one-page microsites or ultra-sophisticated multilingual, multi-page sites integrated with powerful content management systems (CMS), and everything in between.
Likewise, websites can be very simple to put together in a matter of hours with a do-it-yourself (DIY) what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) website builder with little or no technical knowledge required, or they can be incredibly complex and need a team of specialised experts working over the course of several months.
No matter whether your site is super simple or ultra complex, there are some basic do’s and don’ts that should be adhered to, to make sure that it does its job.
# Business Requirements
The first do and don’t is about the purpose of the website. You need to have a clear objective as to why you need it. Don’t merely create a website because everyone else has one, so you need one too. Do be clear in your mind as to why you need a website. What is it’s job? What should the site do for you? What will be its return on investment (ROI)?
# Who is the Website for
This one might be a difficult one to swallow for some website owners, but the website should not be all about you. By that is meant it should not pander to your personal taste. Yes, the website should represent your business and be in line with your brand but at the end of the day, the website is for people using it. It’s for your customers. You want to pander to their tastes and preferences. So design with the end-user in mind. Don’t design something based solely on your personal preferences.
# What next
Related to the last point, think about what you want your users to do. Each page should have a call-to-action (CTA) or lead the user on to somewhere else. For example, on a magazine site, you shouldn’t end the article and leave it at that. You want the user to stay on your site and continue reading so there should be somewhere for the user to go when they get to the end. It could be related articles or the next one in line for example. On a shopping site, users could be directed to view similar products or be lead to the check-out section. Other CTA’s include filling in a form, connecting or sharing on social media, subscribing to a newsletter, picking up the phone, etc. Always think about the purpose of each page and what you want the user to do on it or from it. Don’t leave it open where the only option for the user is the main or footer navigation links.
# Fuss about the details
The design is everything. That might sound a bit strong, but it’s not really. There is a deep relationship between design and quality. Take the time to make it beautiful. Pay attention to the little details. As legendary designer Charles Eames said; “The details are not the details. They make the design.” So be willing to spend what might seem to be an unreasonable amount of time to get it right. It will be worth it. Don’t ship something you’re not entirely proud of.
# Don’t make your users think
Closely related to design is usability. In short, don’t make your users have to think. It should be immediately apparent to anyone on any page where they are, what they are looking at and what is expected of them next. Use best practises to capitalise on your users experience and intuition. An excellent website should get out of the way of the user and present the content in an as simple way as possible while guiding them along the way. The old adage of “less is more” is a useful one to follow in this regard.
# Write for your users
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has changed a lot over the years, but for the better. Whereas in the past one could increase their page rank by doing all sorts of things to make your site look more valuable to search engines. Today search engines are smarter than that.
Search engines want to deliver the best search results they can for their users so they have invested a lot of time in figuring out what sites genuinely meet their needs. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing or creating dubious backlinks to fool them. Today, the best strategy is to do exactly what they are doing, and that is thinking about the user. Write your content for the user, not for the search engine. Invest all your time and energy in meeting your users needs and the search engines will recognise that and present your content over another that is trying to fool it. Be genuine and authentic and produce content of real value. That is the SEO strategy of today.
This one is simple. Make sure your website is accessible on as many browsers, platforms and devices as possible. The best way to do this is to code following best practise standards and to test. Test early and test often. If you find a problem, fix it right away before continuing with other parts of the website. Fixing something for the mobile and can knock on effects for the site when it’s viewed on a tablet or laptop. Don’t leave your mobile testing right till the end! In fact, it’s probably a good idea to design with a mobile first approach.
# Content is king
Lastly. There’s no use of having a beautiful website with all the bells and whistles if your content is not up to par. Content truly is king. You do not need reams of it. It’s not about the quantity of content, but it is about the quality of content. Yes it should be presented beautifully and long pages of text should be designed so that user can quickly scan the page and see if it’s relevant before diving in, but once they do dive in, the content needs to be great. Anything less and your users will leave.
There you have it. Some important do’s and don’t that no matter how simple or complex your site is. Get them right and you’ll be in good stead to building a killer business website.
Mark Hirst – Founder & CEO, Blue Beetle
Mark Hirst is the Founder and CEO of Blue Beetle, a full-service digital agency based in Dubai. Hirst started Blue Beetle early 2004 after having worked for a number of years in the UK and the Netherlands on various international multimedia projects.
Within the 12 years of operation, Blue Beetle has grown into a comprehensive and integrated digital agency with prominent clients across all major industry sectors, including leading brands in hospitality, retail, F&B, technology, and property development / real estate.
Blue Beetle offers an arsenal of digital advertising and marketing services designed to help businesses generate more traffic, improve their online visibility and convert more leads into customers. The agency’s services include but are not limited to website and application design/development, content and email marketing, social media campaigns, analytics, search engine optimisation, consultancy and strategy development.
Blue Beetle has won a number of awards for the work they have done including an IMA Best in Class Award for the Just Falafel website, an IMA Outstanding Achievement Award for the Spin to Win project for Atlantis, a Bronze Stevie Winner for the Atlantis Treasure Hunt and the company was Ranked 60th in the Dubai SME100 2011.
As Founder and CEO, Hirst is responsible for providing the vision, overall leadership and strategic management for Blue Beetle as well as in ensuring the quality of the services provided. Hirst holds a BA in Industrial Design from Loughborough University in the UK. When he is not working, Hirst can be seen spending quality time with his friends and family, exercising and playing sports and exploring the great outdoors.
We are an award-winning global branding and design agency in Dubai, with offices in Abu Dhabi and London, specialising in strategic branding and visual identity solutions that are relative in today’s glocal and competitive marketplace.
Working with new and established brands in over 12 countries around the globe, Jpd are proud to have worked with over 200 clients in 15+ industries including recognised brands such as dusitD2 Hotels, Ultratravel Collection, Global Hotel Alliance, Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts, Al Othaim Leisure Group, Attibassi Coffee, Dragon Oil, Emirates Gas, Vakkaru Maldives, plus many more.