It’s no longer enough to simply have a website. In the modern business environment, corporate website design needs to comply with a fairly daunting range of criteria. If you want to compete on the level playing field the Internet offers, it’s necessary to fulfill at least most of them. The consequences of not doing so typically come from all sides, but they have one thing in common: they have an impact on your profitability.
From an inbound marketing perspective, the four main criteria for a successful, modern website design are:
- Quality of information
These typically “play out” in some surprising ways. For example, at one time interactivity was having the option to leave comments on your blog posts. It’s now a lot more complex than that.
What “Interactive” Really Means
First and foremost, there’s mobile responsiveness. As of April 21 2015, Google’s algorithm is including mobile friendly in its ranking signals. If your site doesn’t have either an official mobile version or a responsive web design, you’ll find it harder to show up in search results.
In addition, your site needs to incorporate a variety of media types, including visual and textual representations, readability and crawlability. You need to offer users an interactive experience that keeps them on-site for longer, or—you guessed it—you’re likely to be penalized. And penalization isn’t just lip service; it actively ensures you don’t stand a chance of being found and prospects are likely to land up on your competitor’s website instead.
The quality of your content has been an issue for some years now, but with users rapidly reaching saturation point it’s now the content of your content that’s in question. Sounds crazy, huh? Not really. The word “content” has become synonymous with inbound marketing, and the rush of marketers to compete in the content arena has led to the arrival of content blindness sooner rather than later. To get people to read your material, it really has to be outstandingly good. This is especially important if you’re in a highly competitive industry with multiple players all doing great things online. SEO still counts, but unless you want nothing but crawlers reading your content you need to make sure you address the interests of your audience.
In terms of social media, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive strategy that integrates seamlessly with your corporate website design. Just this morning I looked at the website of Zeiss Vision Care. They have a great blog post on how office lenses can help anyone who spends hours in front of a computer screen, and they have Facebook and Twitter widgets so you can share the post. The problem is, some bright spark came up with the idea of adding a 2-click requirement before you can share anything. I don’t know about you, but if I have to click twice to share someone’s post, it’s going to have to be totally worth sharing for me to do it.
Social media plays such a large role in the performance of your website that it’s worth doing it properly. Include integration and linking with campaigns, blog posts and updates from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to enhance your online visibility and to help drive traffic to your site
Optimization and Usability
Ah, the good old “O” word (no, I’m not talking Oprah here). Not only is your SEO still vitally important, it’s also essential that your corporate website design includes the most up-to-date usability methods and best design practices a la Google. Some of these are:
- Using a friendly URL structure so the search engines know what your page is about;
- Building site maps in HTML and XML to help Google index your site accurately during the crawling process.
- Following best practices to ensure that your site’s read and response times are fast enough. Even a three-second delay can lose you a user—and a sale!
- Writing clear, concise headlines and blog post titles that are descriptive and relevant, to capture readers’ attention.
- Formatting your content for effective scanning through the use of logical subheadings, paragraphs and bullet points.
- Ensuring your site’s readability through the use of appropriate text, colours, images and backgrounds and avoiding fancy Flash navigation menus, which are difficult for search engines to read.
- Using strong anchor text for your hyperlinks that avoid terms like “Read more.” Google has no idea whether these are important or not.
- Adding relevant names and alt tags to images, and using header tags and meta descriptions to SEO each of your pages.
- Clean and simple navigation and design that ensures the esthetic beauty of the site.
To create a successful, modern corporate website design, you’ll need to get all your ducks in a row before you start. Otherwise, you’ll be doing it all over again within a year.