I’ve said this over and over and over again and I’ll say it again:
Truly cool websites are the ones that make you money.
You don’t set up a website just to have it sit in bed and eat bonbons all day.
A decent website comes in at least 6 G’s and for 6 G’s you want a website that will pay for itself and then some.
What Makes a Truly Cool Website?
Truly cool websites (and by now you know that by cool I mean “cash generating”) are real, honest-to-God marketing tools — not just tasteful, online bonbon-eating brochures.
The Four Pillars of Truly Cool Websites
To make your website a dynamic, profitable presence, you need to consider:
- Usability & Accessibility
- Design and
Ideally, these four functions work together as a team to develop truly cool websites.
Here’s the thing: People usually forget the marketing component of their websites and almost always ignore usability and, especially, accessibility.
Of course, no one forgets about the designer and developer.
Because you are my friend, I’m going to share a little-known secret: Most designers and developers know next to nothing about marketing and usability/accessibility.
If you want to have a truly cool — by which I mean cash-generating — website, you need to think a little more broadly than design and development.
Your Truly Cool Website Needs a Plan
Why are you building a website?
The quick answer is: Everybody has one — you need one, too.
That’s true. You need a website.
As I said, if you are going to plunk down the $6,000 needed for a decent one, why not think through:
- Who the site is for and
- How you can convert visitors into paying customers and even
- How you may want your site to grow over time
The first thing you need to do is wake up to what your business goals are and connect them directly to your website.
How do you do it?
If you believe your website is a marketing tool, you will want to make sure it functions as such. In practice, this means that you will want to build marketing right into the design and development phases of the project.
Why not use a marketing-focused project manager who knows how to tie your business goals to your marketing efforts while thinking about the big picture — such as where you may want to go with your marketing and website in, say, 2 years?
Here’s what I mean:
Calls to action: If you want to convert website visitors into customers, you need a strong call to action designed and coded right into your site.
What makes a strong call to action?
Excellent copywriting, that’s what.
Who writes call to action copy for truly cool websites?
Tech savvy marketers, that’s who.
Don’t think of well-written calls to action as after thoughts. Let them be your first thought. Otherwise, you are just leaving money on the table.
SEO: If you want people to find your site and get it PageRanked by Google, you need it optimized for search.
Guess what? Designers don’t learn that in design school — at least not yet — and neither do developers.
Who knows what to design and code to optimize your site for search?
Marketers do, that’s who.
Let them be your first thought, not an after thought.
I like throwing parties and, when I do, I like to make guests feel truly welcome.
Great businesses, like great hosts and hostesses, understand that making potential customers feel truly welcome ultimately pays for itself. Maybe it costs a little more upfront. It’s worth it.
Your website should give people a sense of ease and well-being as well as directing them to take action.
If you think about it, directing people to take action is a sign of hospitality.
Don’t you feel better, for example, if when you arrive at a party your host or hostess tells you where to put your coat and shows you around?
The best websites make it easy and pleasant to get around them.
What is Usability?
Your website, of course, has a set of content and features — things it does, things people do on the site, and information it conveys.
Usability is about how pleasant and easy it is to use the features and understand the content on a website.
According to Jakob Nielsen of NN Group, spending 10% of your website budget on usability doubles quality measures. Sure — while quality measures are to some extent “in the eye of the beholder” it’s still important to consider them.
When? At the beginning, and not the end, of the project.
What is Accessibility?
Accessibility takes the idea of usability and extends it to whether people of all abilities can use your site. One reason this is important is that, as the baby boomers age, many of them have a harder time hearing and seeing.
You will lose customers if people can’t read your site.
Accessbility is a matter not only of hospitality but also social justice — a strong phrase, I know. It’s just that truly cool websites are truly inclusive.
It makes sense for humans and the bottom line.
When to think about accessibility? Right at the beginning of a project.
The Truly Cool Websites Take Home Challenge
You need skilled designers and developers to build truly cool websites. They need direction because, at this stage in the (r)evolution of online marketing and the internet as a whole, they still don’t know much about marketing and usability/accessibility.
When you, or anybody you know, is planning a website, hire a tech savvy marketing professional to get the project underway with all four pillars of truly cool websites in place.
What are they, again?
- Usability & Accessibility
- Design and
With just a little help from your friends in marketing and usability/accessibility — you can do this!
Author unknown. What is accessibility? bbc.co.uk
Nielsen, Jakob. Usability 101: Introduction to Usability. nngroup.com. January 4, 2012.
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