Show me your Website and I Would Tell you who you are

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Two years ago, I walked into a bank to open an account and something interesting happened; the Teller was able to guess that I was a “tech guy” who worked in a creative agency. I was surprised she made such an accurate guess, so I had to ask her out of curiosity. She pointed to the way I dressed and looked: full hair and beard wearing a t-shirt that had a Mandela image imprinted with the quote “Prison holds no man down, only the mind does”.

First impression they say matters. In some ways, a website has become an electronic business card and if you don’t have one, your business may not be seen as legitimate.There is every likelihood that anyone who visits your website is a potential customer; it is usually the first contact such a person has with your business. How your website looks and feels goes a long way in shaping the perception a customer has about your business. As we say it in marketing, “Perception is reality”. This is an unfair albeit important rule of marketing.

Here are a few tips on how you can build your website for success:

Build for Mobile

Over 80% of web traffic in Nigeria comes from mobile devices. Mobile optimization is perhaps the most important feature out of this list for any modern day website. Mobile optimization takes a look at site design, site structure, page speed, and more to make sure you’re not inadvertently turning mobile visitors away. The best design for a website is a Mobile Responsive design. This means that the website’s orientation automatically adjusts based on the device screen size. The percentage of mobile users has skyrocketed over the last few years in Nigeria and across the world. Some critical features of a mobile friendly website include: Text-based phone numbers eg: 070 STANBICIBTC, physical addresses, or email addresses that can trigger a call, directions, or email message from a mobile device including small image sizes to allow for fast loading over mobile connections.

Good examples of popular Mobile responsive sites built with WordPress BudgIt, Bellanaija & Techcabal.

MOBILE
DESKTOP

Thanks to advancement in technology, it’s now quite easy to design a site that is mobile optimized and mobile responsive without writing a single line of code. Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla etc are examples of CMS (Content Management Systems) that are in-built with mobile optimization and responsive design features.

Site Speed

The attention span of humans is 5 seconds while that of a Goldfish is 9 seconds.Yes, humans attention lifespan is lesser than that of a Goldfish. Users will access your website under different conditions; while trying to get your contact or when trying to browse for information while in a bar. Experiencing delay in these critical moments getting this will lead to a bounce.You can check your page speed by using Google’s Page speed tester which gives you a percentage mobile and desktop score. It also provides tips on how to improve your site speed and overall site user experience. This is not to scare you but data shows that “A 2-second delay in load time during a visit results in abandonment rates of up to 87%” — source.

Navigation

When designing your website you need to be considerate and put yourself in the user’s shoes. Remember the last time you lost your way in Lagos? The experience can be frustrating and time-wasting. That is exactly how it feels when a user lands on your page and is clueless on how to navigate your website. You can help save a life..literally…just by improving your site navigation. Ways of improving your site navigation is by using tool tips, top level pages, search bar for searching for keywords on the site and contact information on both header and footer of all pages of the website.

Build for your Target Audience

Before you start designing a website, you have to state clearly to the designer your target audience. Yes, those marketing research stuff like: demographic (age, gender, marital status, religion etc.) and psychographic (needs, interests, hobbies etc) information of your brand’s target audience.

Choose colours, select fonts and create content based on the target audience and how they want their brand perceived. For example, if your target audience is a younger audience , you may want to use a full-width website and a playful font like comic sans. A more conservative font like open sans or helvetica is great for a corporate site.

Colors are important in the world we live in. It can change moods, influence perception and consideration of people. The color mix you choose in designing your brand’s website has to be deliberate. For example it is counter-intuitive to use the color Black for a hospital website.

K.I.S.S — Keep it Simple, Stupid!

This may seem like an obvious tip but trust me a lot of websites violate this rule. I totally get the urge to display all your awesomeness on a website, but there are creative ways this can be done. Honestly, you visit some websites and you can only describe it with one word…”chaotic”.

Here are some guides to keeping it simple:

Make your Value Proposition Clearly Visible

Your value proposition should be strategically positioned on homepage of the site; it is to place it above the fold ( the first page of a web page that is visible in a browser window when it first loads). Hotels.ng does a good job showcasing its value proposition above the fold.Their value proposition is clearly stated on the home page “Find and book hotels in Nigeria”.

Define your Sales Funnel

Based on your company or product objectives, you need to define how you wish to push users through your sales funnel. People believe that marketing is magic. “Hey marketer! I have N500,000, now push this product down the user’s throat and make me some money!” Sorry brother, it doesn’t work that way.

The more expensive or complicated your product is, the harder it is to get people to commit to buy — If you offer legal consulting as a service, a user on first visit will not just come to your site and pay for your service online.

What your User Wants: To learn more about legal processes for businesses

What you Want: To Sell your legal services

How to Do It

  • Become a trusted advisor
  • Write content on legal processes startups should pay attention to
  • Offer free materials or webinars on the legality of setting up a business
  • Offer free online & offline Q&A sessions
  • Send them to your sales landing page where they purchase any of your services

It takes about 30 days (for most industries) to move a user from the Awareness phase , to interest phase and finally to the sale phase.

Cut Out the Jargon

Don’t try to woo or impress people with technical mumbo jumbo. It just doesn’t work. Either you’re a B2B or B2C company, your content will be read by people. Write content the same way you will speak to people. If you wouldn’t use a word in a normal conversion with a person that has no idea about your business then you need to cut it.

Build Trust

Sales Guru, Zig Ziglar gives us four reasons people won’t buy from you: No money, I don’t need it, No hurry, and Trust.

The first 3 you cannot control, but you can influence the last; Trust. Build trust by showcasing your portfolio (people you’ve worked with), case studies and testimonials. Also include your data sources and showcase your awards and certifications. Include links to verify your certifications & awards.This is a great way to build trust for your brand.

Make it Easy for People to Buy from you.

When Jumia first came into town they had a seven-step process to checkout. Like really? More than 70% customers will drop off at the 3rd step. Now they have a 3-step checkout process which is not great but is better. Konga has a 2 step checkout.Also reduce the number of fields in forms to collect only the information you need.

Do not expose your users to a lot of options.The more options people have, the longer it takes for them to make a decision

Make Use of Tool Tips — Always guide your page visitors on what you want them to do next. Always ask yourself the question when designing your website, “Will my grandma be able to take a desired action on this site without external help?”

Do Not Force people to Sign Up to Buy from You — Do you know how much of a commitment it is to fill a form just to purchase from a site ? The $300million Button answers this question. Allow users to checkout as guests with an option for signing in.

No doubt many businesses have local popularity, but with a website you can achieve global visibility. If you don’t have a website, you’re clearly missing out on opportunities for customers to identify your brand and do business with you. Let’s face it, there is really no excuse for your website to look unprofessional and chaotic, because you now have numerous options that do not require you breaking a bank.

That being said, having no website is better than having a bad website, because the later makes your business look bad. The 21st century reality is that having a website — and a good one at that — is good for business!