A good website achieves a certain goal: It is engaging, leads to conversions (website visitor > customer or subscriber) & sales. People return to a good website. Here’s how to make sure your website will impress.

Be quick!        

Make sure your website is quick to load, i.e. re-size images optimally. People are impatient and even more so when using smart phones. Who wants to wait for a mammoth image appear, pixel by pixel?!

First impressions count

Make a good first impression: You've got around 8 seconds (or less!); first impressions are primarily determined by design - keep it clean and simple. Keep the important/visually engaging stuff ‘above the fold’, near the top of the screen

Present a clear message

Maintain a consistent brand experience - people who know your business should instantly know when they have arrived at your website. Have a well-structured, visual hierarchy; the research has been done already, so don’t reinvent the wheel; people generally scan screens in an F shape, scanning across the top and left hand side - keep the really important stuff there.

Content is king

Google likes good content - think about what your customers are searching for

Halve your words, then halve them again - no-one wants to read lots of words on a bright screen - keep info short and concise: Format your text (use headings, bullet lists); use good quality Images, videos & audio clips; avoid using text in an image format - Google won’t index it and it doesn’t work well on mobile screens

Be credible

It’s hard to build up trust on the web, so give yourself credibility: List customer testimonials, display your portfolio, etc.

It’s a no-brainer but: Be helpful!

Display your phone number; don't make users fill out a 20 page form just to get in touch with you; show your product/service prices!

Be mobile-friendly

You need a website that works on mobile phones - Why? By 2014, mobile internet use will overtake desktop (Source: Smart Insights) Over half of New Zealanders now own a smartphone (54 percent), which puts NZ almost on par with the US, according to Google’s latest ‘Our Mobile Planet’ study. If your customers are using mobiles, your website needs to work on mobiles! Otherwise you may be missing out on sales. Google mobile search is expected to overtake desktop this year. Remember tablets/iPads too - the best idea is to get a responsive website, which re-sizes to fit any screen: Desktop, tablet, mobile.

Sell online

Got a shop? Sell online! If you don't, others will. A few tips for a great online store: Remember to list shipping rates before checkout, keep the checkout process simple, offer free shipping and product promotions and use good product images.

Be social

Use social media and blogs to build a community; establish great long-term relationships. Think about how your content will be shared on the internet - how can you make it more shareable? (Think social media buttons, RSS feeds etc)

Get analytical

Use Google analytics to track everything - Where are your customers coming from? What marketing strategies are working? Use the results to adapt your content to target your customers better, e.g. if Analytics shows that most of your internet traffic is coming from mobile phones, make sure your site works on mobile!

Keep it fresh

Last but not least, keep your website content updated. New site visitors will have more faith/trust in you if they can see you are maintaining your online ‘shop front’.

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