Whether you are launching a new site or want to improve your existing one, your website design is the best tool for beating your online competition. But how do you do that, where do you start and how can you most efficiently spend your time and resources?
Identify the Goals for Your Website Design
First, determine what exactly you want from your website design. Is your main goal lead generation? Online Sales? Brand awareness? Knowing this is vital to know what to focus on and what should guide your design. A site focused on leads should give people a clear path to becoming a lead, a clear reason for filling out your form. An e-commerce site should be intuitive to use and easily let people find and buy your most popular products, whereas a branding site should focus on your message.
Sites often get off course with vanity images, large graphics or leading off with your company’s history. Focus on what your client needs to know to make the desired interaction and critically assess the value of anything else.
Assess Your Competition
Honestly define who your main online competitors are and look at what they are doing right and wrong. Are they doing things you can learn from? What are the keywords they are targeting? How have they used web design and technology to their advantage and how could you do it better? Is there an opportunity to create a better user experience?
Look at your competitor’s keywords, what do they consider important? Compare this list to the keywords you are targeting and what keywords people are using to find you, which can be found in your analytics. Use this to determine what keywords you need to rank to compete effectively.
Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition
Part of any competitive campaign is first determining what makes your product special. Assess why people should choose you over your competitors and determine how to leverage that effectively. Is there text you can use in headlines and ad text that promotes your unique advantages? Are you communicating it in a way your target audience will understand?
Be sure to have a unified message from first ad impression, through the landing page to the call to action that simply and effectively leverages your unique selling proposition.
Beat Them With a Search-Engine-Friendly Web Site
Part of beating the competition is driving more eyeballs to your site, and the most effective way to do this is by appearing at the top of the search results for your most important terms. Be sure that your web design includes adequate content to rank well for your top keywords.
Does your platform have built-in SEO capabilities? Some platforms can keep track of important keywords and metadata for you. In any case, you should have an SEO strategy to support your site and a plan for measuring your progress and improving your SEO presence. To remain competitive in SEO, you will need to make regular content updates. A good way to do this with properly optimized blog posts and updates to your most important pages.
Beat Them With a Conversion-Based Website Design
Most people only spend a few seconds determining if a site is what they are looking for and the average time on a website is about 2 minutes. Will users be able to find what they want and act on it in less than 2 minutes? To be competitive you will need to optimize your site for that goal. A local business site should ideally have the location and contact info clearly visible near the top of the page. If you have an e-commerce site people shouldn’t have to make more than a few clicks to find and buy what you are selling.
A/B testing (also called split-testing) is a great, data-driven way to test your most important pages, forms, and calls-to-action. To do this you would create variants of forms and pages and run them simultaneously splitting your visitors between them to determine which converts more effectively. Having a flexible platform or other methods of testing your web design is an important consideration.
Regularly review your analytics and see the path people are taking through the site, what pages are the most popular, and make sure they represent your business as you would like and turn browsers into customers.
Competitive Pitfalls of Web Design
Knowing who your competitors are is important, but obsessing on them can be self-destructive. Calling them out by name in your ads, website design, content or elsewhere can make you look petty and alienate clients. Know when to reference them and when to take the high road.
Analyze, Assess, Improve
Once you have your message, site and SEO strategy implemented, your website design work is just starting. Watch your progress, check your SERP report (Search engine results page), check your analytics and keep producing content, support with social media and be ready to adjust as needed. Use split testing to keep your site conversion friendly. Competition is a marathon, not a sprint.