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Your website is an integral of your digital marketing strategy. It may serve as a gateway to gather information, or the actual destination where a sale takes place. A visitor needs to discover what makes your brand stand out, or simply find information readily, or make a purchase decision more easily. Your possible marketing campaigns might run the gamut of Google ad, Facebook posts, articles, etc., bringing new customers to your website. This makes your prime piece of digital real estate.

The better you're marketing, the more visibility your website has. Online consumers of today are fickle, and that's because digital interactions are so commonplace, so users are spoiled by companies that are doing it the right way. People are used to ease-of-use and accesibility, and accuracy, of information. They lose this credibility very quickly if they get disappointed no matter the brand. You need a good website if you don’t want to fall ever further behind the developing digital curve. A flawed mobile website means you’re already behind.

Some of your competition is almost guaranteed to provide a better user experience, attracting customers that could be yours if you did better at yours. So let's talk about how to make sure your experience is good enough. It doesn't need to be perfect, it just has to be successful. An effective website is simple, well thought out and highly functional. It should be intuitive and eliminate any and all barriers, so your visitor can accomplish their goals effortlessly. High shared value is foremost in our marketing approach, and it should be for your website, too. You must align your business goals and your target market’s needs.

Continuing the analogy to our marketing strategy: you need to appeal to your target market primarily, so focus your efforts on designing it with that in mind. As you evaluate your current website, take some time to ask yourself the following questions: One, is it mobile friendly? The amount of people using their mobile devices to browse the Web is staggering. So design with mobile in mind. Next time, we’ll be discussing “responsive design”, further food for thought on the topic of mobile-friendly websites.

You website needs to load properly on modern browsers. No way around it. It has to look the same on Safari for a Mack, or Chrome for a PC, otherwise you’ve lost control over the user’s experience. Use as a way to quickly test your site across platforms. Does it answer all the questions my users have or may have? Now a good practice is to write down things your customers ask for via phone, email, or even in your place of business. Then compare against what your website offers. Does it provide those answers easily? If not, put the information up there, and fast.

Then: does the website represent my brand well? The user makes up their mind very quickly, within seconds. Carry through your brand immediately and clearly. Luxury brands need to feel elegant, whereas discount sites can focus more on the current sales. Make sure your logo, tagline and the color scheme all reflect your brand. You definitely want things to be consistent. Is it up to date? Out-of-date information is a killer. Users become concerned that your brand is declining, so keep your information current. Weekly blog use is a must.

Are all of your services and products easy to find? Online marketing makes use of specific targeting, so your audience probably seeks something specific. Can they find it easily? If they don’t and call you with a question about it, and it is something you offer, then make it clear on the website itself. Are all of your policies easy to find? That is to say, if you ship or handle returns, can the user understand the process clearly? Will they know how long shipping takes? When they can expect a call back or a product to arrive? You wanna provide ample feedback so a user knows where they stand in the process.

Last, but actually among the first -- compared to your competitor’s website, how does yours fare? What do you feel -- pride or jealosy? If it’s the latter, a serious rehauling effort may be in store. Make use of your colleagues and existing customers to get feedback. Ask them what they like, what they don't like, and for any ideas. As you go about creating an effective website, I also recommend hearing from someone outside your circle. Check out They offer an actual person to spend time on your website, telling you their honest, unbiased opinion.