With the majority of Americans researching a business online before making any sort of decision, it is imperative for businesses to have fully functioning, mobile friendly, easy to navigate, and informational websites for their target market. If your business website doesn’t have all of these necessary functions, you’re missing out! According to Adweek, 81% of consumers check out a business online before making a purchase or even stepping foot through a business’ door.

As a business owner or manager, are you giving consumers everything they need to make an informed purchasing decision using your website as the starting point? If your website friendly and helpful offering assistance every step of the way. What is your messaging and what does website say about you?

Good Design=Positive Brand Association

When it comes to design, there is a fine line between bland and elaborate. Too little information or design can bore consumers and think your business is unprofessional. Too much information or design can frustrate consumers as they search for information on your company and are bombarded with too many flashy graphics.

Take the animation studio Pixar, for example. Here is a company king of graphics and animation. They could show off their work and load their site full of interesting and recognizable characters if they felt the need. However, they keep it simple while still including images their consumers know and love.

Their page is organized and streamlined by the navigation bar at the top, with drop down menus, so visitors know exactly where to go. While they could show every upcoming project, they have only a couple teasers at the bottom for their most recent films.

Overall, a visit to their site would leave consumers feeling positive about the brand. If the design was unorganized, overdone, or clunky, their audience would have left it frustrated.

Mobile Friendly= Positive Brand Association

These days, it’s not enough to have a great stand-alone website. It must be mobile friendly. With the average American spending at least two hours on their phone daily and one in four online searches being conducted via mobile devices, many consumers who access your site will be doing so from their phone.

That may explain why, according to a recent Google study, 61% of shoppers will leave a website if it’s not optimized for their mobile device. Some websites can be mobile compatible, meaning there are no Flash features, and the entire site is viewable on a phone or tablet. Other websites can be mobile optimized, meaning it is designed specifically for viewing on a mobile device. There is less content, no zooming required, and everything is more succinct.

Let’s look at another national name brand as an example. Nike’s mobile site is a great example of meeting user expectations. It’s simple and organized, product-based, and navigable. Nike is a company like Pixar, where they have endless amounts of product bragging they could do on their site. But, to make it mobile friendly, they’ve focused on clean photos of classic products with an organized menu feature to explore other products further.

Mobile Website

The overall image the front of their mobile site conveys to their consumers is one of quality products and reliability. Even if your business does not have specific products to sell, or your business is more service-based, the principles Nike’s site features can still be followed.

Customers will view a business positively if they can easily access its website on their smartphone and they are not inundated with flashy gimmicks.

Good Content= Positive Brand Association

Whether viewing a website on a computer or mobile device, a business must feature good content in order to keep their audience interested. We’ve talked about how simple is best when it comes to design, but when it goes for actual copy, you don’t have to skimp. As long as content is organized, your website can actually feature quite a bit of information. In fact, too little information might leave your audience thinking you don’t have much to offer as a brand. Here are some guidelines to follow when it comes to website content:

1. Keep it original– Developing your own original content instead of modeling another site will help you develop a true online brand. Feature original copy, like maybe an owner’s weekly blog post or a weekly guest blog post. Not only will posting helpful, original content show your audience you are attentive, it can help boost your ranking in search engine results, making it more likely for people to find your website in the first place.

2. Be consistent– If you are marketing across multiple platforms, you need to keep your online image consistent. What a customer sees on your website should match the same personality on your Facebook or Twitter profiles. Develop custom graphics specifically for your business that would be recognizable on any online media to stay in the tops of your customer’s minds. Additionally, if you have a physical business, promote your website and social media at your actual storefront so customers are seeing you online as well as face-to-face.

3. Be engaging– Content should, above all else, be engaging and thought provoking to garner interest. Use humor, tell a good story, or ask an open-ended question to hook your viewer in. Vary your graphics and include videos on your site to add a more personal touch. Be helpful, and not solely focused on selling. You could also be interactive and get your customers involved with you online by hosting a contest. Finally, keep your audience engaged by updating your content regularly. By keeping things fresh and new, your customers will view you as a reliable resource and will keep coming back for more.

Websites are the new business cards. They are oftentimes the first things a customer will see before even considering to patron a business. If you are a business owner or manager who wants to increase your brand awareness and associate it positively in the minds of your consumers, you must make sure your website is organized, user-friendly and features fresh content.

If you’re stuck with a website that your consumers don’t absolutely love, check out some of the website’s we’ve developed for businesses just like yours. We’d love to help!

About the Author: Amber Rickerson

Amber Rickerson is Director of Marketing at Blue Cricket Media. Her passion for marketing and social media are second only to her love of Mt. Dew, University of Kentucky basketball, her children, husband and black lab, Reno. You can find her (and her family's) adventures on Instagram (@ozandamber) or email her at arickerson@bluecricketmedia.com.

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