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The 10 secrets of a good website

Having a website is no longer optional. It’s a must. Your clients and potential clients will expect it. It’s where they’ll go to check you out before they even consider getting in touch with you. So not only should you have one… it has to be good. The problem for most firms is that they don’t know “what good looks” like when it comes to websites. That’s not a criticism, it’s just that it’s not your area of specialism. Just as most marketers/web designers don’t know what good financial planning looks like.
So…What makes a good website?
Well the first challenge is that you haven’t got long before your typical visitor moves on. Just a few short, but vital seconds. You need to instantly attract and hold the viewer. It’s called “surfing the web” for a reason. It involves skipping along the surface, from site to site. The first job of your website is to stop visitors in their tracks and persuade them to dwell a while.
This means making it high impact and crucially, relevant. This means a complete focus on “you the client” rather than “us the business”. Why do most websites have the “About us” page as the landing page? I’m interested in me! Here’s a quick checklist of criteria to consider when creating (or indeed reviewing) your website. Why don’t you check out your own site against these criteria?
Your site has to be… 
1. Original
If you use a template you will have to make your information fit the template. What’s more you are unlikely to achieve any meaningful level of differentiation. We recently looked at number of websites of firms who are perceived to be “leading lights” in the financial planning world. A high proportion were using an identical template and the same “stock photography”. That’s right. Identical images in the identical spot on their websites! Of course. I’m not going to name names, but it does illustrate the extent of the problem. No wonder people comment that all adviser sites look the same.
2. Well designed
You need to understand your competition. And that isn’t just other IFAs or even the banks, but sites like the BBC, John Lewis, Apple, Timberland. All sites where a great deal of attention and money go into creating a fabulous customer experience and journey.
3. Personal
It needs to reflect the personality of your business, which is one of your key differentiators. Photos of real people… your real people… staff, advisers, clients (if they’re willing), all help to give your site an authentic feel. My own website is an example of such an approach. My ugly mug all over the place, video blogs and even video testimonials. Get personal.
4. Purposeful
Your website isn’t just a brochure, it’s a place for stories, news, thoughts, space to provoke action, create conversations. It should also provide the first opportunity to engage with you, even if that is electronically/virtually at this stage. Helpful downloads in return for an email address gets the relationship established and gives you permission to interact with them further.
5. Well thought out
Your navigation should be interesting, tell it’s own story and offer a frustration free path to your user. It should also be highly intuitive. I looked at the Timberland website the other day. Take a look for yourself here and see what you think. If their sale is still on, you’ll see that it leaves you in no doubt where to go and find what you’re looking for. Does your website do that? And get someone unfamiliar to your site to take a look at your homepage. Ask them where their eyes go immediately they see the page. Is that where you want them to look?
6. Well written
When it comes to website copy, less is more. The viewer will not read through paragraph after paragraph, they will hop around, your content has to be clever, clear, concise and jargon free. The content has to be relevant to your target market. They have to be able to recognise that it’s them you are talking about. So talk about their issues, their problems, their worries, their concerns, before you even think about banging on “about us”!
7. Visual
As I said earlier pictures speak volumes but again only if they are authentic and unique to you. People like to see real people, beautiful illustrations, not easy to use stock shots that can be seen on many sites – golden eggs, oak trees, piles of money, piggy banks, couples gazing out to sea.
8. Search engine friendly
Although your website should be built for humans, it also needs to be set up in the right way to appeal to the search engines who like to find fresh, unique content on a regular basis.  You have to think of new and interesting ways of attracting your specific target audience to your site. Content that is regularly updated, particularly video content is what Google loves.
9. Healthy
It should use a good content management system, the latest software releases, it needs to be cookie and privacy policy compliant as well as accessible for less able users.
10. Continually reviewed and refined
A website is never finished. You should visit your own site often, using a critical (and possibly external) eye. It amazes me how infrequently many firms review (or even look at) their website. There is always room for improvement. And when it comes to managing the perception of your business and your brand, a website that is “good enough”…  just isn’t!
How does your’s stack up against these golden rules?

1 Comment

  1. Bibble Studio Says:

    Thanks for the info! Very relevant for my company

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