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Website website on the screen, who’s the fairest of them all (and how to make mine fairer)?

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Website schmebsite…

Global crowdsourcing marketplace DesignCrowd.com recently surveyed 300 businesses from around the world and found that 84% of respondents would be deterred from using a business if they had a poor website design and user experience. Regardless of this, nearly 1 in 5 businesses had not updated their website in the past 1 to 5 years, with an astounding 19% admitting that they had never updated their website. 

A similar trend is occurring nationally, with the ABS reporting that in 2013 less than half of all Australian business had a web presence, regardless of the fact that global e-commerce sales are tipped to hit US$2.3 trillion by 2017 and, 3 out of every 4 Australian internet users purchased or ordered goods or services online in 2012-13.

…but it’s not that hard to do it right

Alec Lynch, CEO and co-founder of DesignCrowd.com explains the three most common reasons Australian business may be reluctant to get online.

“In our experience, there are three common reasons businesses aren’t online: one, they don’t know how to find a good web designer; two, they think they can’t afford it; or three, they find the technical side or jargon (like HTML) a turn off. The reality is marketplaces like DesignCrowd and tools like WordPress or Wix make it easier and cheaper than ever to find a professional web designer – or build a website yourself – and get online within a few days,” Lynch explained.

And, once you’ve got a decent idea and have worked up the nuts to put yourself on the web? The key to a successful website, says Lynch, is ongoing improvement.

“You’ll never get the website perfect the first time. You should always be looking to improve the web design over time by testing new designs, new copy, and new images. Having a beautiful and effective web design is key to maximising the success of your website and your business. Having up-to-date content, contact information and ensuring there are no broken links or errors will also help get the most out of your website and the traffic you’re getting. Content is an important way to drive visits to your website whether from Google or from returning users,” he said.

So if it’s a question of simplicity, of good working parts and effective content, where do people get it wrong?

“The biggest mistake people make is designing a website based on how they feel about the design rather than how well the website works,” Lynch continued. “The bottom line is, the best website design is the design that converts the greatest proportion of traffic to sales or enquiries or donations (whatever it is you are targeting). Whether you’re a restaurant or an e-commerce business, a good website can be the difference between success and failure. If your website is not working effectively or part of it is broken, that is the equivalent of a retail store turning the lights off and shutting the doors in the middle of the day. Customers won’t come inside, and customers won’t buy.”

And finally, what about social media? Businesses seem to be rushing to exploit the social space online, but that might lead to a number of problems (not least of which are keeping content up to date or dealing with an influx of useless tweets and time-wasting or negative commentary). Lynch’s advice is to consider your target market, the messages you want to put across and to start with original: “For most businesses, my advice would be to start with Facebook as it has the biggest audience and most flexible integration options,” Lynch concluded.

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