7 Must-Haves & Need-to-Knows for a New Website:
2. Self-Maintenance aka the CMS – At Pulse, we personally love this aspect of web design. Once upon a time, web development firms would pull the wool over marketers’ minds with the cost to code and leverage the difficult to maintain CMS to their own best interests. Maintenance was a burdensome task when developers had to worry about a missed period or a spelling error that was received from a client. And some developer teams were paid handsomely for the task. However, with everyone and their mother being adept on a computer, self-management was destined. Clients now demand to edit to their hearts content any text or copy that they please, all by themselves. This means web designers can’t sit on their laurels making money on maintenance anymore. The new buzz is a User-Friendly CMS.We love the world of blogs for opening up this brave new world. Now, our clients can now be as vested as the development team to think through the site system’s requirements and needs. Also, it means that teams like us that are into designing the next best thing don’t have to feel bad about the commodity of web designers that are making a mint off basic maintenance. So, for this reason alone, we have to give it up to WordPress for making an easy solution available for the masses. We have to also shout out Drupal for allowing us to really prove our programming capabilities on a whole other level. Since the CMS is now more than user-friendly, there are some CMS architectures that we design that are a thing of true beauty. Ironic but true: simplicity can be a complex and extremely beautiful thing.
3. Analytics – The proof is in the pudding. Analytics has always been and always will be a cornerstone to any website. We need to get the cold hard facts on what is working and what is not. With today’s burgeoning offering of tracking tools, sites today need to be built with the right aspects being trackable. When you build a website, don’t simply think that you built it and it works. Make sure to build it with the proper analytics system in place. Because once you build it, there will most likely be a constant push to make tweaks here and there in order to improve the user experience. So, get access to the facts and make smart decisions to increase your site’s success.
4. Database. Database. Database. – If you have a site, then you want to capture the users’ information. Find solutions or campaigns to engage a visitor as well as have them wanting more. A simple “sign up for our newsletter” rarely is enough anymore. This involves a balance of relevant content, social media and providing something of value even after they have been to your site. Find a reason, capture the user, and learn to market to them directly. It is not enough to have a site, because all you will have is a business listing. Engage, interact and capture the audience. From there you will start to see a growing database of information with all sorts of interesting points ranging from as broad as interaction behaviors to as minute as a person’s favorite color. Some great ways to increase your database are to run contests and promotions, implement a marketing campaign, or loyalty reward programs. Every business is different. So get creative and start building your company’s reach.
5. Social Media – Social Media has become the face of many brands today. It was bound to happen. Brands always find a way to show up where their consumer is. Because of the nature of social networks, brands were not only forced to get onto social media platforms but now they have to think through the strategies to interact with consumers/users. It’s pretty much mandatory to have at least a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, with YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram following fast in their footsteps. These days, the advantage of social media communication is not only in the hands of the consumer. Brands have learned the value of harnessing them as well. These auxiliary online channels create an easy interface for brands to constantly update their direct audiences, thus providing new, engaging content for all to see. Websites not only include links to these networks, they now include live feeds of their social media channels. This adds a very valuable asset to the user experience.
6. SEO – Part of the essential aspects in helping your website gain traffic is the manner in which your audience gets there in the first place – and most likely, search plays a major part. Google has made dramatic changes to its search engine since the days of basic search crawlers. The art of choosing the right tags/key words has become such a complex, analytical process that there have been firms created to do just this. Although a thorough SEO plan would be best for any website, there are certain basics that must be implemented even if you do not have the budget for search optimization. This includes ensuring that your page titles are relevant to the content on your page, natural link building, and writing content that keeps the audience interested and engaged. Further, with the Google location algorithms, it is smart to think through location based SEO, too. I’m sure Google isn’t done yet. So always remember to update your SEO approach regularly.
7. Content is King – If you hadn’t noticed in the previous three points, there was a recurring theme involved – creation of engaging content. In the end, this is still the main draw for your target audience. Many brands still have no idea what this really means. Content has to be relevant, engaging and FRESH. Sites need to have pages that look fresh and different constantly. If your site content is stale, so will be your impact. Build a site that is easy to update and has the right balance of content, design and function. It IS the key component for any website that will be ready for tomorrow’s consumer.