Scale and growth are words frequently used by leaders of small to mid-sized businesses. Scale and growth are also key words to consider when thinking about your company’s website. Have you put much thought into how your website will support, or hinder, your growth?
Digital media has completely altered the way that consumers and businesses interact with each other and a brand’s digital presence plays an increasingly significant role in a company’s success. As the leader of a growing company, it is critical that you take ownership of your online presence. Sustainable growth of any kind requires a strong foundation and you can’t build a strong business with a weak website.
Your website is a reflection of the strength of your brand. A strong website will successfully engage your intended audience, properly communicate your key messages and corporate culture, and set you apart from your competitors. It is an important component of your growth and can lead to customer loyalty, employee attraction and retention, increased sales and profitability. On the flipside, a weak website can distort the perception of your corporate culture, damage your brand credibility, cost you sales and customers, affect your ability to attract top talent and scare away potential partners or investors.
What follows are the seven most common examples of weak growth-company websites. If your website resembles any of these (and too many do), it’s time for a serious rethink of your digital presence.
1. The Frankensite
Created from bits and pieces cut and paste from other collateral, a Frankensite contains a mishmash of graphics, styles and inconsistent messaging. By not providing consistent and cohesive visuals or messaging, a Frankensite looks unprofessional and decreases your credibility.
2. The Dinosaur
This is more often an issue with larger organizations, but it afflicts SMEs as well. Dinosaur sites are those built on outdated platforms, not optimized for mobile applications, slow to load, or mired in older technology. These sites are often plagued by stalls or glitches and are frustrating for the end user, who is unlikely to stick around long enough to digest the intended messaging.
3. The Labyrinth
In a Labyrinth site, key messages are difficult to find or missing altogether. Visitors need to dig to find basic or important information. By not clearly communicating the key purpose of the site front and centre, you run the risk of frustrating or losing your audience.
4. The Identity Crisis Sufferer
Sites suffering from an Identity Crisis are those that feature content and graphics that are inconsistent with the company’s corporate culture, brand messaging or intended audience. These sites are more likely to alienate than engage.
5. The Lemming
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. A Lemming site is one that jumps on the bandwagon of every new digital platform and tool available without first asking if it makes sense for the brand. Blindly following the leader can do more harm than good if the technology is not aligned with your strategy.
6. The Peacock
A strong website needs to be well-designed, but not all well-designed sites are strong. Design and graphics should to be created to accommodate your content, not the other way around. If substance takes a back seat to style, you risk comprising your brand message.
7. The Brochure
A website that is silent and does nothing to engage its audience is basically just a digital brochure. Companies that use their website as a brochure are missing an important opportunity to build customer relationships and loyalty and gain valuable insights and feedback.
Your digital strategy needs to be targeted and deliberate, and should be able to quickly evolve with the changing needs of your business and your market. It is important to regularly audit your website and overall digital strategy. Just as in any other aspect of your business, first plan, then execute, and then revisit and reevaluate regularly to ensure that you are taking maximum advantage of the web as a tool to fuel growth and success!
Amir El-Nesr is a website architect and Internet marketing specialist. As founder and president of Marketspace Design Group, a full-service online marketing agency based in the Toronto area, Amir and his team have created integrated online marketing solutions for companies both large and small across North America for over 20 years.
Quiz: Does Your Website Suck?