Isn’t a website just an antiquated, static way of doing things, put to shame by the always on, immediately updatable world of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, they ask? What is for sure is that social media has raised the bar. People expect whatever they use online – especially websites that provide a service or searchable information – to be fast, intuitive and glitch free. Gone are the days of static sites that freeze while they perform search functions or that forget a user’s position when they return to a previously viewed page.
Our view at Answer Digital is that a website remains the unifying factor in a business’ online marketing and brand collateral. Customers now, more than ever, expect most businesses to have solid, online presences, independent of social media. Websites may act as a hub, linking to Facebook pages and other accounts as well as provide (alternative) routes to market. But essentially, a customer will view a website as an extension of a business itself.
This means a poorly designed, out-dated or difficult to use website can be hugely detrimental to a company’s image, never mind its bottom line. Major changes in recent years mean that even relatively newly launched sites can drive away business: a website that uses flash will exclude all users browsing on a phone or tablet, for example; overuse of devices like parallax scrolling can disorientate users; developers who ignore AJAX technologies that allow for fast, interactive and seamless app-like website experiences do so at their peril; and a site that looks good on a six inch mobile but underwhelming on a 27 inch screen isn’t going to win any awards.
Not only is a website important for customers; it’s also a vital source of management information. Business owners with bricks and mortar spaces regularly walk their shop floors, checking on customer service, conducting mystery shops, measuring footfall, finding out what’s on trend and much more. So why do so many organisations ignore online metrics and analytics that can easily highlight digital pain points in the purchasing or registration journey, for example, or demonstrate exactly what’s drawing people in?
Through discussion, research and reflecting upon past experience, consumers buy narratives, not logos. A story sticks in people’s minds, and this story needs to be supported by a consistently memorable customer experience. Consumers now connect with a brand in a myriad of ways: through websites, apps, digital advertising, magazines, events, packaging, products, customer service and more. If a customer has a bad experience in any one of these touchpoints, it’s difficult to correct that experience.