7 Components for Building A Successful New Website
When you begin to consider a new website, do you begin to imagine something visually stunning that injects new life into your brand? Do you picture your competitors seeing this new website and doubting their ability to stay in this race with you?
Typically, the biggest lure to wanting a new website is the esthetics of it. And while that’s certainly a key component to your overall website build, it is not the only thing you should be concerning yourself with. Strong SEO for dominant search rankings, dialed-in content and a smooth user experience, site speed, the right tools, and an easy-to-manage CMS… the list in what will support your business goals is long but specific.
And we’re here to share what those are.
1. Customer Sales Funnel Strategy and Tracking
The best web development teams have savvy strategists who will make sure your new website is designed to move customers effectively through a smooth, targeted customer experience journey. This includes customer personas identification, Google Tag Manager event tracking of key conversion path behaviors, etc. Look carefully at website proposals to see if this level of strategy is in your development project. It’s the sign of a development team that knows more than streamlined code and pretty designs.
Customer Experience Journey Mapping: Get clear on how customers should be able to journey through your site. You want to expeditiously answer their questions and provide to them the information they need for each next step in their investigating, educating, deciding, and booking journey.
Every brand is different. A good design communicates your brand clearly and favorably, while staying as simple as possible. Less is more, so your content can do the talking.
Great website designs convey instant brand recognition of your company. Strong design is an iterative process in the development phase, building and taking away all but the essential elements to convey your brand’s identity. Less is more, and each design element must have a purpose. Design happens through appropriate logo usage, website colors that build off of the same and complementary colors of your company, fonts that are both user-friendly and that resonate with the attitude of your brand, content layout, good use of space with room for the reader and eye to “breathe”, and design elements that add to understanding your brand.
This is where the “behind the curtain” magic happens… technical coding. There are two basic paths to choose from when building a new website or doing a redesign on a new website platform: custom development sites, and theme-based development sites.
A custom built website gives you a custom design that is totally unique to your company. The developer builds your back end website code specific to your exact design, thus enabling less code bloat, fewer plugins, and a faster site.
A theme-based website build takes a powerful, pre-built theme that typically includes a fantastic assortment of content elements, design ideas, features and functionality—and then pulls from that theme the elements and design features that addresses your website design, branding and functionality needs. Theme-built sites have the bulk of the coding already done, and customization to your brand and needs is where the developer spends her time. Both ways of building a new website deliver a strong performing website for your business. The tradeoffs for custom builds vs theme-based builds are:
- Site Speed
- Uniqueness of site design
Custom Coded sites vs Theme-based sites: What’s the difference?
What are the tradeoffs to consider about custom vs theme-based website builds? A custom build is more expensive, and you get exactly what you want. The sites are able to be faster because there is no code bloat. On theme-based sites there is usually some amount of code that you won’t need, but it is near impossible to isolate and delete or turn off that code—which can slow down the site speed by milliseconds. Does this matter? Only if your competitors have faster sites! Think about a beautiful, full featured, high performance Subaru Outback vs a beautiful, full featured, luxury BMW X5 SUV. You can run your business on both with great success. The decision is based on your budget and competitive context.
The best ranking websites are built with search engine optimization baked into the site structure and organization, site coding, page URLs, and site content. This means your development team needs to have SEO experts setting the site strategy and influencing site design.
Foundational SEO site structure includes how your site is organized for:
- Subpage levels
- Key landing pages
- Meta tags (titles, images, descriptions)
- Site-wide schema markup
- On page optimization for page titles, header copy, and body copy formatting
Advanced SEO is usually not part of an initial build, and can be added once the site is built, like product and review schema markup. Incorporating SEO principles in your site design and development from the start is more effective and less expensive than the rework that typically is involved when SEO is added after a site is fully built.
SEO is absolutely essential to a successful website. It is more important than incredible design!
Understanding SEO at a basic level will help you make better decisions about your website content and structure that will support your successful development project. Don’t change your URLs unless you have a really good reason to! Google sees these two pages as completely different pages: europeantours.com/rome-cathedrals-tour.html VS europeantours.com/rome-cathedrals-tour/
Want to learn more? Take a deep dive into how to do SEO for your brand.
Content is, of course, the king of any website. The site needs to show up in search results (SEO and content), look appealing enough to want to click into beyond the home page (design and content), and then educate, engage, and convert visitors into customers (strategy, content, tools).
The right amount of content effectively shares about your experience from the perspective of your customers and how they benefit. It is not too long, is not too short, and optimized mobile first, with clear steps visitors can take to engage with additional content to meet each level of their information needs.
Always review your content from a mobile device before you look at your desktop view. We know that over 60% of traffic first sees content on mobile, and may move to desktop for deeper research and engagement. You want to hook these visitors from their first impressions of your site on mobile!
If you will be moving your existing website content into your new or redesigned site, then it’s most efficient to do the hard work of culling that content first before you move it. The benefits to identifying all duplicate, unnecessary, or thin and weak content are better answers to visitors’ questions and stronger SEO through higher ranking pages. You definitely don’t want to carry over all your old content if that content isn’t already strong, streamlined, and optimized.
6. Media Assets
This is a make or break component for all businesses who rely on images and videos to convey the full benefits and value of your product or services with emotional and intuitive power. Ask yourself…
- Do you have effective images and videos that convey the richness of your brand’s promise with power and impact?
- Are they the right size and resolution to work well on desktop and mobile devices?
If pictures are better than a 1000 words, videos can be better than a 1000 pictures! Be sure you have the media assets your development team needs to be able to create a site that meets all your business goals.
Two of the biggest stumbling blocks and time delays for building successful new or redesigned websites are weak and disorganized media libraries. Weak libraries mean your images are not available in the right resolution and/or size to work effectively on mobile and desktop views. Blurry images or images that are too small will hurt your brand presentation. Making the time to gather all your image and video asses, label every file clearly for what it is about, and delete any images that are poor quality and/or too small will save hours and hours of development time. Even the best web designers in the world can’t work with tiny, low resolution pictures….
7. Platforms, Tools, and Integrations
You want to get the right tools added to your website to make running your business and marketing to your customers easier, more efficient, and as automated as possible (where this makes sense). Smart development teams know what tools to bring to your table to help your website sell 24/7 and track the metrics that matter.
Examples include integrating your online reservations system into your adventure tourism website. This is a requirement for your business, it can’t be an afterthought! It should be part of every strong website development proposal – adding the booking widgets to each relevant product is part of effective page development and design.
Another integration is your email marketing platform. Making sure your new website includes the right calls to action to generate email subscriber signups is part of connecting your tools to drive your business success.
Online Reservations and Unique Snowflakes. Everything should be bookable online for non-group reservations, even if it requires some manual checkpoints along the way! Adding this functionality will help your customers easily and conveniently start and finish their book per their schedule, and it will give you the critical information you need to understand how effective your marketing is.
The good news is, you CAN have it all—great design, a strong SEO site, terrific content that answers your customers’ questions, full integration of those business tools that matter most to your business, a honed and effective media library, a high performance technical site, and the strategy that pulls it all together.
Good luck! If you need help—we’d love to hear from you.
Want more tips specific to adventure companies during this period of disruption?
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