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a definitive guide to web design
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There probably has not been a single technological development in the past 100 years that has changed the business world as completely as the World Wide Web.

Since its advent in 1991, the web has shifted from being a research tool to becoming a consumer novelty to being ingrained into almost every aspect of everyday life. We read books and articles online, connect with our friends online, work online, play games online, stream our entertainment online, manage our business online, and share our interests with the world online.

What else do we do online? We shop. We research products. We explore companies to determine whose services will help us most. We get in contact with manufacturers when one of their products has a problem and leave reviews for them when they resolve those problems. We even look online to find out which of a store’s locations has the thing we want – in other words, we shop online so that we can shop in person!

Knowing that, then, you understand what we mean when we say this:

Trying to run a successful business without an effective website isn’t an option anymore.

In this Definitive Guide, we’ll get thoroughly entangled in the World Wide Web – why you need a website, the types of sites available, how to go about creating one, and how to evaluate and maintain it once it’s built.

Part One: Does my Company Really Need a Website?


Why Does My Company Need a Website?

Oh, well, that’s a great question. Here are just a few good answers:


People Expect Businesses to Have Websites

The first and one of the most important reasons your company needs a website is pretty simple: it’s expected.

71% of businesses now have a website, according to Forbes. Even if you don’t sell products on your website through an eCommerce platform, customers still expect to be able to learn about your company, products, and services online. A survey from October 2021 shows precisely how much people rely on a business’s online presence:

  • 91% of shoppers look up physical retailers online before shopping with them in person; 43% of customers do it before their first visit to every store they shop.
  • 23% of shoppers who research companies online before visiting their store say that they are “somewhat” or “very unlikely” to visit a business that doesn’t have an online presence.
  • 68% of shoppers expect a company that they’re planning to do business with to have a website.

When the presence or absence of a website can have that much impact on how people shop in brick-and-mortar locations, you can imagine how much impact it has on service companies that don’t have a physical storefront to visit.

a man uses his phone to do some online shopping


People Discover New Businesses on the Web

Think back to the last four or five times you tried out a new business, whether it was eating at a new restaurant, shopping with a new retailer, or using a new service provider. How did you find out about them? Odds are better than good that you discovered them online and got your first impression of their brand and their offerings from their website.

With adequately optimized SEO content, your site can appear high in search engine results and, when paired with digital advertising services, can quickly become your business’s primary lead generator.


People Learn About Brands on the Web

Your brand is vital – it’s the thing that makes you stand out from the other businesses in your market space. There’s no other tool that can so effectively communicate your brand to a broad audience than a website.

A well-designed website that adheres to your brand standards is incredibly effective at developing your brand and introducing it to customers. Your website is one place where users:

  • Can see your logo, colors, fonts, and other brand designs
  • Can read content written in your brand voice, explaining your value propositions
  • Can find your mission, vision, and values spelled out in one convenient location

In other words, customers may be looking for specific information about your company, product, or services when they visit your site. But while they’re getting that information, they’re also soaking in your brand identity from the moment they hit your home page.


People Evaluate Businesses Based on Their Websites

How do we determine which companies are on the up-and-up and which ones are maybe a little less reputable? How do we know who’s sus and who’s legit?

In a lot of cases, we make that determination based on a company’s website. Across all demographics, around half of all shoppers who won’t buy from a company without a website won’t do so because of legitimacy concerns.

A website provides an immense credibility boost for companies. Let’s be more specific: a good website offers a tremendous credibility boost. A bad website may actually do more harm than not having a website at all.

But a good website demonstrates a commitment to providing good customer service, demonstrates a willingness to put serious effort and time into developing a tool that’s useful for customers, and also signals that your company is open to interaction and engaging with customers. If nothing else, a good business website demonstrates seriousness of intent. If you’re willing to put the work into a great website, then you’re serious about your company and its offerings.


People Get Up-to-Date Information From Business Websites

There’s something else unique about the web and online platforms that make them the perfect place to do business: they’re easy to change.

Throughout the course of a year, how often does some aspect of your operations change? An employee leaves, changing how quickly you can perform a particular service. A new technology allows you to make a significant product improvement. Sales have been booming, and you’re opening a new location. You change the price of a product in order to increase sales.

Unlike print materials and traditional advertising, both of which take considerable time, effort, and money to change whenever something in your company changes, changing a website is a relatively easy process that takes almost no time or effort and very little (or no) expense.

Customers are used to finding up-to-date information about the companies they’re doing business with on the companies’ websites. This expectation goes beyond finding the current hours of operation or a current list of employees. Thanks to the prevalence of eCommerce solutions and point-of-sale integrations, customers increasingly expect to see real-time inventory information for retail operations or current wait times for places like restaurants and urgent care clinics.

Your company’s website is where leads and customers come when they want to know up-to-the-minute information about your company and its operations.


Business Websites Make Money

And that’s where we were aiming from the beginning. Whether your site makes you money directly through eCommerce functionalities or lead generation, or if it does so indirectly through increasing brand awareness, boosting consumer confidence, and helping users find your physical location, your website will have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Well, once again, let’s be a little more specific. A good website will have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Fortunately, if there’s one thing we know how to do here at M&R Marketing, it’s making a good website.

Part Two: Getting Started Building the Best. Website. Ever.

So, you’ve been convinced by our compelling arguments and have decided to pull the trigger on a new or updated business website. You’re super excited to get started and are thinking to yourself, “This will be great! There are all kinds of free website tools out there; I’ll just hop on one of those sites and have something up and running by the end of the week!”

Please don’t do that.

Not the part about the free website tools online; some of those are awesome. No, what we desperately want you to avoid is the dreaded quickfire website. It’s tempting – get something out there already and update it as needed. But you already know that’s not what’s going to happen. Instead, your quickfire website, with its placeholder images and marginal copy, will “make do” for a few weeks, and then your first round of updates gets pushed aside by some crisis or another. Before you know it, the “temporary” site you set up has been driving customers away for a year or two, and you’re no closer to having a quality site.

The main thing to remember is this: building a company website is a detailed, involved process that will take months to do well.

We’ll get into more detail about each of these steps below, but – in short – the process we’ve found to be most effective is:

Set Goals and Strategize

The first thing you need to do is determine what you want your website to do. This knowledge will help you decide what type of website you want to build, what your design and content will need to look like, and what search keywords you’ll be optimizing for.

If you’re a service provider working predominantly with industrial customers as a B2B operation, your site will look, feel, and work very differently from a retail operation selling fashion sneakers through an eCommerce site.

Develop a Sitemap

Your website will be composed of multiple pages, each one focusing on one specific product or service you offer or another aspect of your company and its operations. Determining what pages your users will expect, need, and find useful and how those pages will interconnect is a primary consideration for your web project.

Smaller companies can make do with small sitemaps featuring only a handful of pages, little interactivity,  and fundamental navigation. Larger organizations need correspondingly larger websites, more complicated navigation, and more interactive features.

Write Content

Once you’ve decided on the type, size, and overall structure of your site, you can begin to write content. Your content will reflect your brand voice, convey important information to your audience, and drive your site’s SEO performance.

Create Your Design

With your content written, it’s time to move on to design. More than anything else on your website, your design will be the thing that informs viewers’ first impressions of your website. You only have a fraction of a second to catch someone’s attention with a compelling design before they bounce away to another website.

Implement Your Site

Now that your engaging content is wrapped up in a beautiful design, it’s time to move onto the really technical bit: taking your vision and turning it into a live, functional website. During this step, you’ll be working to ensure that your site’s technical health is robust, with fast loading times, simple navigation, and meta content that’s effective at improving your site’s SEO.

Maintain Your Site

A website isn’t a book; you can’t publish it once and call it a day. As your business’s offerings, locations, staff, and other aspects change, you’ll need to update your site to keep it current. Fortunately, with contemporary content management systems (CMS), maintaining a website is easier than ever.

Assess Site Performance

Finally, once your site is up and running, you need to evaluate its performance. No other piece of marketing material is capable of returning so much detailed information about its performance in the shape of Google Analytics. Keeping an eye on site performance is necessary in order to allow your future decisions about your website to be made from a data-driven perspective.

Ready to go? Great – let’s get started.


Want Your New Website Without All the Muss and Fuss? We Got You! Give Us a Call and Let Our Talented Team Build a Turnkey Site That Showcases Your Business: 478-220-4788


A Note About Scope

Okay, we’ll be honest right up front. This guide will be definitive. It probably won’t be exhaustive.

What we’ve learned over 15 years of building high-quality websites for growing businesses wouldn’t even begin to fit in a single article. We could fill several bookshelves with every lesson we’ve picked up and piece of advice we can offer for companies looking to build an engaging, effective website.

So, rather than try to dig deep into the weeds of every. Minute. Detail of building a website, we’re going to use this space to provide you with a good framework that you can use to help guide your web strategy.

We also will not be going into detail about eCommerce solutions and sites. While all of the guidance in this article will be relevant to someone building out an eCommerce site for their business, there’s already a wealth of information in our Definitive Guide to eCommerce Site Design and Promotion.


Setting Goals for Success

We’ve certainly said it enough times in our other Definitive Guides, but there’s absolutely no reason not to repeat it here: behind every successful endeavor is a good plan. Trying to conceptualize, develop, and launch an entire website without some definite goals and plans is a recipe for a very un-tasty dish. And, like all good plans, the first step in creating this one is to set some goals.

In this case, goal setting can start with a single question: what do you want your website to do for you?

At this stage, you’re not identifying specific website features or capabilities – all you’re doing is identifying areas of concern or potential improvement that can be addressed by launching or upgrading your website. Some of those goals may necessarily suggest certain features or capabilities, but not tying yourself to specific solutions at this point means you’ll be more open to looking at additional options later down the road.

Some ideas for potential goals might be:

  • Expand our customer base outside of our Dublin, Georgia sales area
  • Increase customer awareness of our monthly mosquito-control service
  • Reduce the number of phone calls we receive asking for care instructions for our garments
  • Encourage community members to donate to our cancer-awareness nonprofit
  • Rebrand our company to engage a younger and more affluent audience

As always, your goals need to be SMART:

  • Specific: Does your goal speak to one particular area of business?
  • Measurable: Is there a metric you can use to track performance?
  • Attainable: Is your goal realistic, or are you setting yourself up for failure?
  • Relevant: Does your goal fit in with your overall business goals?
  • Timely: Have you set an end date for achieving this goal?

So, with all of that in mind, one of our goals from the above list (Expand our customer base outside of our Dublin, Georgia sales area) becomes:

By the end of 2024, we will increase sales to customers living outside of Laurens County, Georgia, by 10%.

That’s one goal down! Depending on your business, that one goal may be enough by itself to warrant a new website. More likely, you have several goals in mind that you want your website to help with. Keep working on your list of goals until you have all of your ideas down on paper. Then it’s time to prioritize.

If you only have 2-3 goals for your website, they may all be attainable with your initial design. If you have 15, you’re probably going to have to make some compromises. Go through your goals and prioritize – which ones are your “must haves,” which ones are your “really wants,” and which ones are your “that would be nice” goals?

When you have a list of prioritized SMART goals, you’re ready to start building your strategy.

a pair of web designers collaborate on a project


A Winning Strategy

Go back through your goals, and ask yourself, “How can a website help me attain this goal?”

Sometimes, the answer will be easy. For the above example of increasing sales of a product outside of a business’s initial service area, an eCommerce solution is the easiest way to open up your product availability to customers who don’t live close enough to visit your storefront. To increase customer awareness of a service you offer, a detailed service page on your website can help customers understand what you offer.

Other times, the goal is going to be less easily addressed. Increasing engagement among a new target audience, for instance, doesn’t lend itself to a single website feature or functionality – rather, several different features can boost engagement, but your overall content strategy for the site will also need to work towards creating the kind of user experience that your target audience has come to expect from a website.

Here are some common website features, along with the types of goals they can help you accomplish:

  • eCommerce functionality: Sell your products around the world in an online store that’s open 24/7. Expand your market footprint, increase sales, and bring in an entirely new customer base.
  • Testimonial feature: Build modules that allow any page on your site to provide social proof in the form of embedded testimonials. Increase conversions, generate more leads, and increase audience confidence in your products/services.
  • Product/Service pages: A must-have for any business website. Provide your audience with details about your offerings, increase conversions, improve SEO, increase engagement, and explain value propositions.
  • Location pages: Do you operate multiple storefronts? Do you provide services to customers in different cities/regions? You need location pages to ensure that your audience is aware that you serve their area. Increase lead generation, improve SEO, and clearly define your service area.
  • Blog: Primarily used to improve SEO, blogs are also a great way to share news and updates with your audience. Increase engagement, solidify your position as a thought leader in your field, increase audience awareness, and further develop your brand identity.
  • Calendar: Do you have frequent events or other important dates? An integrated calendar function allows you to easily embed upcoming event information on any page of your site to drive participation, increase engagement, and build reputation.
  • Contact forms: Gather information from your audience for lead generation and feedback on products, services, and marketing.
  • Social media feeds: Integrate your social marketing efforts into your website. Increase engagement and drive traffic to your social media presences.
  • Multisite functionality: Do you have multiple lines of business that require different website features? A multisite website can provide each of your subbrands with its own unique web identity. Solidify your brand identities, improve audience understanding of your business, and highlight a new or underperforming brand.
  • Listings function: Commonly called “real estate” sites, listings sites provide a friendly catalog of individual pages that can contain everything from high-value properties and products to curated lists of helpful resources.

Of course, all of these features will work differently for different companies, and there are thousands of other functionalities, features, modules, widgets, and scripts that are incredibly effective, just not listed here. If you choose to partner with a talented website design firm to develop and implement your new site, they’ll help you match your goals to compelling web features and design elements.


UI, UX, and Other Important Letters

As you’re developing your web strategy, it’s also time for you to start thinking about your user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) – and you won’t stop thinking about them until… well, you shouldn’t ever stop thinking about them. Every single decision you make in writing and designing your website should be informed by this one question: “How will this impact the user experience?”

Of course, when a user lands on your website and begins exploring, the last thing you want them to think about is their experience. The site should flow so smoothly that the visitor does not consciously think about their movements. All the users should be aware of is the solution they need your site to provide.

Simplicity and usability features should make using the site completely intuitive. If a visitor becomes aware of their experience on a website, it typically means the UX and UI need an overhaul.

UX and UI are crucial and inherent characteristics of any web design. And while there are definite differences between them, they are integral to each other. You cannot have a positive user experience without a well-designed user interface. You cannot have a clean user interface without a well-planned user experience. You can put a ton of effort into your UI and UX or not, but if either is poorly constructed, your site’s performance could suffer.

What Is UI?

UI, or user interface, encompasses all the visual elements visitors encounter and interact with when they land on your site. From buttons and toggles to icons, animations, menu bars, texts, images, and sliders, your UI design establishes the look of your website and can significantly impact your site’s performance.

What Is UX?

UX, or user experience, is the guiding force behind UI. UX is all about the website’s overall function, accessibility, simplicity, and problem-solving capabilities. Your visitors interact with your website for a reason, and your UX should dictate how your UI will cater to them and supply the solutions they need. If UI is the “what,” UX is the “how and why.”

A Bad UI Design Leads to a Bad UX

First impressions are everything. According to WebFX, visitors base their first impressions of your site on its design 94% of the time. High-quality images, appealing site colors, straightforward navigation, and well-placed content will create an online environment that users will want to continue exploring.

However, if your UI design is poorly thought through, doesn’t follow updated style guides, and ignores current best practices, users are likely to react in the following ways:

  • Form negative assumptions about your site overall
  • Form negative opinions about your company overall
  • Leave your site in search of a more desirable or user-friendly one

By benefitting your visitors through your UI design, you’ll provide a positive UX, gain credibility and trust among visitors, and have better odds of converting leads into customers.


How to Think Through UI Design to Create a Successful UX

When designing your website, it is essential to view everything from your audience’s perspective. Creating a user persona to inform your UI design is a wise step to get into the minds of your visitors and display what they need to see in a way they want to see it.

Keep these three concepts in mind when it comes to your UI design:

  1. Simple tasks – Whether it’s filling out a form, gathering needed info, or purchasing a product, design your site to simplify your visitors’ most common tasks.
  2. Fast navigation with little effort – Organize pathways to other pages in the way that makes the most sense to your audience.
  3. Enjoyable experience – Ensure your visitors have a positive experience (UX) with a design that reflects simplicity and ease of use.

To put these steps in context, let’s think of a UI design for a doctor’s office. For the most part, the practice will have two types of site visitors: prospective patients and established patients. To cater to the UX of both, the UI should be designed in such a way that each type of patient can complete simple tasks and conveniently make their way through the site:

  • A prospective patient should land on the homepage and quickly get a feel for the navigation. Buttons and menu tabs should guide them toward the most critical areas of the website, such as the service pages, new patient resources, and contact pages.
  • An established patient is likely familiar with the website already. However, they should still be able to land on the homepage and easily navigate to the client portal, resources page, or contact page.

Robust UI design that considers UX and the actions you want visitors to take can significantly enhance your site’s performance.


Inclusivity Isn’t a Fad: Ensuring Accessibility

The other thing you need to always think about, even after your site goes live, is accessibility. Your site must provide a quality user experience for everyone.

Some people still think of ADA compliance as a trend to follow, but it’s really more of a requirement due to the website standards and guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These guidelines work to ensure websites, especially those that serve members of the public, follow ADA compliance.

Commercial websites or websites that serve as online representations for businesses or establishments open to the public must be ADA-compliant. These entities can include:

  • State government organizations
  • Local government organizations
  • Private businesses
  • Online-only businesses
  • Any entity that serves the public

ADA Compliance Serves Your Users and You

The guidelines for ADA compliance aim to ensure online spaces remain accessible to those with disabilities like audial impairments, visual disabilities, or motor-skill issues. Companies that ignore compliance and fail to follow the standards and guidelines risk paying costly fees, losing site value, and even hurting their SEO performance.

The goal of the ADA is to make all public organizations inclusive and accessible to everyone regardless of their impairment, which means web accessibility and ADA compliance are crucial components of your website’s design now and in the future.

As a result, you will experience several benefits of designing an ADA-compliant website, such as:

Gaining Trust Among All Users

Anyone who lands on your site and can take in your content, complete processes, navigate and access your pages, and complete a call to action increases their trust in your company, which increases their likelihood of becoming one of your customers.

Expanding Your Target Audience

The more people you can serve through your online presence, the more chances you have to earn business from your increased audience. Roughly 54 million people suffer from disabilities in the US, which accounts for about 16% of the nation’s population. Within this 16% are people who likely need your company’s goods and services. Through an inclusive, universally accessible website, you can position yourself to reach more consumers and convert them into customers.

Improving Your SEO

When search engine crawlers scan your website, they evaluate your UX and take note of whether your site caters to the user or not. If your site scores well for accessibility and UX and appeals to search engines and users alike, it will likely rank better in search results over competitor sites that do not prioritize accessibility.

Avoiding Costly Penalties

Designing your site around ADA compliance not only serves all users who land on your website, but it can also protect you from the expense of ignoring accessibility. The government can issue non-compliance fees to businesses, and disabled users can file hefty lawsuits against a company if they cannot access the website adequately. Ensuring your site is ADA-compliant saves yourself and your company from possible costly repercussions.

To learn more about integrating accessibility into your site, read our blog article, “How to Create an ADA-Compliant Website & Why ADA Compliance Matters.”


Map It Out – Develop a Sitemap

A sitemap is exactly what it sounds like: a map for a website. Depending on the size and complexity of your website, a sitemap could be no more than a few lines, or it can be a massive process document containing hierarchical lists of site sections, subsites, and hundreds of individual pages.

As you’re working through your sitemap, try to keep the following things in mind:

Simple Is Better

Don’t go wild with your sitemap. You know that your business is a complex operation, but your audience probably doesn’t need to be steeped in explanations of your corporate structure or your procurement policies. Your website should, first and foremost, be targeted at your external audiences and should be as simple as possible. As you list out pages, ask yourself, “Does my audience need to know about this?” If the answer to that question is no, leave it off the sitemap.

Keep It Flat

The best websites are relatively “flat,” meaning that none of the pages on the site are buried deep within the navigational structure. For nearly every website, three levels is the maximum you’ll want to consider, as deeper structures confuse the audience and negatively impact the user’s experience.

a group of web developers collaborate on a sitemap

There Are a Few “Must Haves”

If you’re designing a site with more than one page (most websites fall into this category), there are a few pages that are not necessarily obligatory but are more-or-less expected by most browsers:

  • About Us: Information about your company, rather than about your products. This information can be as detailed or as vague as you like, but anyone reading the page should be able to understand your company’s brand after they’re done reading.
  • Contact Us: Just what it sounds like – information to help audience members connect with you. Even if your only means of communication is a phone number, people expect to find a dedicated contact information page on your site.

There’s also a “must have” that is literally a must have. As in, it is physically impossible not to have one – a home page. Every website in the world has a home page, and yours will be no exception. Most of your traffic will land on that page first, so make sure it’s included in your sitemap.

One Page, One Idea

This one is a concession to the importance of search engines. We’ll get more into the significance of SEO shortly, but for now, while you’re building your sitemap, remember that – for the most part – one page should be dedicated to one idea. Every product, every service, every location, and every other important concept on your site should have its dedicated page. When you try to cram lots of different products or concepts into one page, it confuses search engines and all but guarantees that your page will not rank well for the keywords your audience is searching for.

With a clear set of goals and an effective sitemap and feature strategy, you’re ready to move on to the next step: content creation!


Your Friends at M&R Know Web Design Strategy, You Know Your Business. Let’s Get the Band Together and Jam a Little: 478-220-4788


Part Three: Long Live the King – Content Creation

Have you ever taken a road trip with your vehicle’s tank on empty? You probably didn’t get very far because, without gas, you and your car were hanging out on the side of the road instead of on the beach. The same analogy is valid about your website design and content. If your website design is your vehicle, your content is the fuel that drives it.

In other words, regardless of what anyone says, content is still king.

Google uses content to determine a site’s relevancy in search queries. When your website benefits users in Albany through quality content and features an appealing and functional design, it is absolutely possible to gain their attention and convert them into customers.

Optimizing your content to speak to businesses or customers in your target location and creating an overall engaging and informative user experience will likely increase your customer base.


Create Informative, Thoughtful Content

Search engines like Google analyze your content and use it to determine whether your website is relevant to a user’s search query.

A few of the factors Google relies on when evaluating your content include:

  • Use of relevant keywords and keyword phrases
  • Use of geo-targeting keywords
  • Accuracy and authority of your content
  • Quality of writing

Use Relevant Keywords

Well-written content that answers a user’s questions can indicate to Google that your site belongs on page one of the SERPs (search engine results pages), maybe even in the top spot, for that particular search. Everyone wants to rank highly on the SERPs, ideally in the #1 position, for queries related to their company. To beat your competition, your content should include a range of the focus keywords that your audience will most likely include in their searches.

We’re not saying you should stuff your content full of keywords. In fact, Google frowns upon keyword stuffing and penalizes websites that practice it. Instead, choose the most relevant keyword for each webpage of your site and craft your content around it. Apply variations of your keyword to the content, too.

Take an extermination company, for example. If one of its web pages is about termite control, the overall keyword phrase for the page could be “termite control.” The content can feature this keyword along with variations like:

  • Termite removal
  • Termite treatment
  • Termite solutions


Include Geo-Targeting Keywords

Geo-targeting keywords are one of the most effective ways to optimize your content for a specific area. Google uses geo-targeting keywords to understand the locations your content should reach. Whether you want to stand out in searches in your area or you want to zero in on a customer base somewhere else (in this case, Albany, GA), you can incorporate the location into your content, telling Google to display the webpage that features the right geo-targeting keywords in relevant searches performed in that area.

Take the extermination company again. If the company would like to boost its site to users searching “termite control near me” in Albany, GA, the content can include keywords like:

  • Termite control in Albany, GA
  • Termite removal in Albany, GA
  • Termite company in Albany, GA

Geo-targeting keywords are great to apply to the content of:

  • Blog articles*
  • Individual location pages
  • Location-specific product pages
  • Location-specific service pages

*Pro-tip for blog articles with geo-targeting keywords: In the content, mention landmarks or other popular locations in your target city. That will signal to search engines and customers alike that you’re actually familiar with or even fluent in the locality and not just stuffing the city name into otherwise generic content.


Provide Accurate and Authoritative Content

In addition to featuring a solid use of relevant keywords and geo-targeting keywords, your content should also be comprehensive enough to reveal your knowledge and authority in your industry. Displaying accurate and authoritative content will help your site in two ways:

  • Search engines boost the rankings of sites that have comprehensive content that demonstrates a solid knowledge of the topic.
  • Comprehensive content will drive customers to look to you as a trustworthy, knowledgeable resource.

Users who land on a site with thorough, informative, and accurate content are more likely to select the company for their products or services. When an employer or resident in Albany, GA, searches for products or services your business offers, you can position yourself as a valuable option based on the message your website is communicating and how well it is communicating.


Utilize Quality Writing

Quality writing on your site is crucial to capture a visitor’s attention and keep it. Text that showcases proper grammar, accurate spelling, and a natural voice and tone that flows smoothly throughout the pages is necessary to keep a user engaged. Lousy writing often indicates to the reader a lack of care, a lack of knowledge, or both, which taints their opinion of the company overall.

The lower the quality of your site’s writing is, the more likely visitors are to abandon your site and find another that is better and more reliable. A visitor who lands on your site and then leaves without clicking a link, filling out a form, making a purchase, or taking any other form of action on the site adds to your bounce rate. For better or for worse, search engines track a site’s bounce rate as it determines how useful or futile the site is to users. The higher your bounce rate, the further down you will rank in searches, so the quality of writing directly affects your SEO.

a web developer works on the content of a website


Other Web Content Pro Tips


What makes a web page different from an eBook? Links!

Another scoring signal for search engines is the presence and robustness of internal linking on the site. Make sure that your content links to other places on the website anywhere it’s logical to do so. Writing a service page and mentioning one of your core values? Link to the “About” page so that people can see the rest of your values. Does one of your services handshake easily with another? Make sure to cross-link those pages to one another.

While you’re writing, identify linking opportunities and highlight them. Make a comment in the document reminding you where each link should point on the site.

Remember to look for opportunities for external links, as well. Linking to other local businesses, manufacturers of products that work well with your products, business listings, and outside research that supports your marketing claims can all boost your site’s UX and SEO potential.


People are busy. And even when they’re not busy, they really don’t like to spend time reading any more than they absolutely have to. When your content is scannable, users can skim through the page and still get a pretty good idea of what the page is telling them. So, how do you make your content more scannable?

  • Avoid long blocks of text – use bulleted lists, tables, or other formatting to avoid presenting long, grey walls of text.
  • Use descriptive headlines that allow readers to get a good idea of what the text under the headline says.
  • Use hierarchical headings that split content into well-defined subject areas, with more general ideas headed by large headings and specifics located under smaller subheadings.
  • Keep it short. When developing web content, always remember that the user experience has to come first. If you find yourself writing pages that are several thousand words long, consider condensing your content.


If you’ve already been in business for a while and have a good grasp on your brand voice and visual identity, then you’ve already got your tone and look – adhere to your brand voice in your content, and you’ll be in good shape.

If you’re just starting out, working through a rebrand, or just have never taken the time to develop a brand voice and a visual identity, you should check out some of our existing resources for developing a brand. At least make a start at developing a voice and visual identity before you get too deep into your web content.


How long should each page on your site be? For our answer, we’ll go back to our high school English classes and give you the same answer we always hated to hear in those days: as long as it needs to be.

We’re not trying to be glib here. Your content needs to be as long as it needs to be to communicate the points you need it to communicate. And absolutely not one word longer.

If you’re writing a page that’s highlighting one of your more basic products – say, a box of toothpicks – you can probably convey everything your audience needs to know with a relatively small amount of copy. If you’re explaining the value propositions of a new model of smartphone, you’ll probably need a lot more content to make the value clear.

The main thing to remember is that your page needs to have enough content to be helpful. If you overshoot your attempts at brevity and end up only telling half the story, your page will not be helpful to readers and will suffer at the hands of the search algorithms.

Let Visuals Tell a Lot of the Story

As you’re writing, remember that the words won’t be the only thing on the webpage. You should also have photos, illustrations, charts and graphs, infographics, and other visual means of conveying information on your page. Let the visuals do a lot of the talking for you – we’ll get more into why visuals are so crucial for an effective website shortly.


Content: Last Steps

Once you have your content written, your next step is to proofread it. Actually, that’s your next step, as well as the next step for several other members of your team. The more eyes, the better.

Following that, you’ll need to take another couple of steps. First, do another round of proofreading.

Then, proof it one last time for good measure.

Now you’re finished with your content and ready to move on to the really fun bits: designing a website. (If you really feel like it, nobody will complain if you want to give that content one last proofread.)


Words? We Got ‘Em. And We Know How to Use Them to Make Your Business Thrive! Give Us a Call Today and Let Us Do All the Heavy Lifting Typing: 478-220-4788


Part Four: You’ve Got the Look – Visual Design

When it comes to websites, your design is king.

“Hang on!” we hear you cry. “You just said that content is king. Which is it?”

Well, yes, we did say that. And we were correct to say it. But in this case, your website has to be subject to two kings: content and design.

The best web content in the world will be completely ineffective if it’s paired with a dull, ugly, or otherwise unappealing design. So, let’s dig into the visual design of your new site and make sure it’s none of those things!

Note: This article will not get too deep into the weeds of actual design nuts and bolts. Here, we’ll be talking through some best practices for your visual design strategy.  For specific help with design details, check out some of our other Definitive Guides and blog articles:

a web developer works on a flowchart


Some Web Design Statistics

Good design can be the doorway to success, high conversion rates, and increased revenue. Bad design can mire you at the bottom of search results, slow down your users’ experiences, and drive customers into the arms of your competition.

But don’t take our word for it. We’ve assembled some statistics about the impact of design on business websites.

Overall Design:

Your Site’s Design Prompts 94% of Visitors’ First Impressions

Content takes a backseat to design when making those vital first impressions. Design is the “curb appeal” for your website – your users will see the design and consciously or unconsciously make countless judgments about your business before they ever read a word on the page.

Given 15 Minutes to Browse, 66% of People Prefer to Look at a Beautiful Design Over a Plain One

This statistic seems like a no-brainer, but reread it. 66% prefer a beautiful design over a plain site – not over an ugly one. It’s no longer effective (if it ever was) to design a barebones site with the thought that “plain beats ugly.” As technology has improved and bandwidth has increased, users don’t just expect a functional experience when they visit a website; they expect something attractive.

Well-Designed Sites Can Convert at up to Three Times the Rate of Poorly Designed Sites

It’s easy to say that an attractive design leads to more conversions, but at what rate? Research suggests that good design can increase conversions by up to 200%! Can you think of any other project you can undertake that could triple your sales without modifying your business model? Neither can we, and growing business is literally what we do.

Images, Color, and Videos Are the Design Elements Consumers Most Appreciate (40%, 39%, And 21%, Respectively)

It should be no surprise that we prefer to look at pictures and videos more than we enjoy reading dense blocks of text, the wails of our poor copywriters notwithstanding. How much do we prefer it? 100% of web users appreciate visual elements more than textual elements. (Sorry, copywriters.) That’s not to say that you can ignore your copy entirely – it’s still a vital part of your site’s overall UX. And search engines simply will not rank a page that doesn’t contain helpful, legible content.

39% of Users Are More Attracted to Color Than Any Other Design Element – 46% Prefer Blue, 30% Prefer Green

Color is the design element that leads to the most emotional, visceral response in viewers and is an easy way to convey a brand’s tone. It’s also an easy way to create appeal – we’re drawn toward attractive color combinations and naturally repelled by clashing colors. While we’d never suggest that every website adopt blue-and-green as their color scheme, it’s clear that choosing a color scheme should be done with intention.

About 57% of the Time on a Page Is Spent Above the Fold, 74% on the First Two Screenfuls

These numbers have been trending down in recent years, suggesting that more and more users are becoming accustomed to having to scroll to find the content they’re looking for. Still, over half of your users’ time is spent on that first screen, so keep everything BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front). What that means is placing your key points in a short, digestible form at the very top of the page, then leading into more specific details and other information that may be less important to the reader.


About 75% of a Website’s Credibility Is Drawn From Its Design

Your customers need to trust you before spending their hard-earned money on your products and services. With about three-quarters of that trust coming out of your site’s design, you should do everything possible to ensure your site looks reputable. Clean, easy-to-read pages with straightforward navigation and minimal intrusions from ads and other secondary content go a long way toward building trust.

Bad Design Elements Can Cause 94% of Users to Mistrust a Site

People have been surfing the web long enough to have built an image in their head of what a spammy, untrustworthy website looks like: busy, crowded, tons of pop-ups, fine print everywhere, and design elements that scream “Don’t think, just click ‘Buy!’” Don’t be those guys. When you build your website so that navigation is straightforward, product descriptions are plainly written, disclosures and disclaimers aren’t hidden, and users “have time to breathe,” you’re building user confidence.

Loading Speed:

Up to $2.6 Billion in Revenue Is Lost Each Year Due to Slow-Loading Sites

Billion. With a “b.”  If oversized image files, bloated code, and bandwidth-wasting dependencies increase your site’s load time, you will lose customers. Online shopping is an attention game, and nothing is less attention-grabbing than a website that stalls and leaves you staring at that infuriating “loading” icon.

83% of Users Expect Sites to Load in 3 Seconds or Less

In the days of dial-up, few of us could have imagined an entire webpage loading in less than three seconds, but oh, how the times have changed. Today’s web users demand speed, and if your site’s not up to the challenge, they’ll find somewhere else to take their business. Designing for speed optimization isn’t just a best practice; it’s an inescapable primary consideration.

All of these statistics speak to another term: user experience. Every single element of your page must be conceived, written, designed, and implemented with an eye to ensuring a great UX for your site visitors.


What Makes a Good Design?

Website design is not what it used to be and for a good reason. Imagine if all the sites you love to visit went back to using the same design elements from 15 years ago. You would want to throw your phone, tablet, and desktop out the window. Why? Because we have grown accustomed to modern, high-quality, user-focused design trends. The idea of reverting to harsher visuals, poorer navigation, and unintuitive design sounds miserable now.

Today’s web designers understand the importance of designing around UX, as it is the make-or-break characteristic of a website and the leading indicator of the site’s performance among users. From good content flow to usability features and simplified processes, designers must incorporate elements that create a positive user experience. Otherwise, the site owner may see fewer site visits and risk losing credibility among users.

To ensure your site benefits visitors with a satisfying UX, let’s look at the elements that make for a quality web design.

a graphic designer works on her computer


Quality Websites Boast Strong Visual Design

The visual design includes everything the user sees when they land on the website, including:

  • Photography
  • Illustrations
  • Videos
  • Typography
  • Layout
  • Negative space
  • Color
  • Buttons
  • Toggles
  • Anything else that the visitor will see

Visual design is one of the most critical parts of UX. Since sight is the primary sense used to understand and navigate a website, the visuals cannot be treated like an afterthought. Visual elements make memorable impressions faster than anything else.

There is so much to think about when putting a site’s visuals together to strengthen the UX. From choosing the right fonts and colors to finding the best layout and photography, designers must employ sound design principles that appeal to the visual senses of the user and boost their experience on your site. High-res images, attractive color combinations, and easy-to-read fonts, all displayed in a well-structured layout, will keep users on your site as they continue searching for the solutions you can provide them.

Quality Websites Feature Interaction Design

Interaction design is precisely what it sounds like–a design that focuses on the interactions between the user and the website. It requires thoughtful consideration of users’ behaviors and expectations with the goal of:

  • Anticipating the visitor’s wants and needs
  • Guiding the visitor from one page or section to another as seamlessly as possible
  • Mitigating errors or roadblocks in the journey through your site
  • Catering to the visitor intuitively rather than reactively

Designers integrate the interaction design with the visual design through features like:


A site’s buttons direct the user from one page or one area of a page to another. Buttons guide the user’s path through your site to lead them efficiently to the information and solution they need from you. Well-planned buttons lead to action from the user and new conversions for you.


Like the buttons, the menu should help users navigate your site quickly and clearly. The menu design will determine if the user will be successful at reaching the correct pages, which could affect whether they become a customer.

Color Choices

Believe it or not, the colors used on your site help guide visitors around and communicate information. Communication through colors is more subtle than communication through other elements on the page. Still, the colors you use in certain places can help users interact with your website or hinder the journey.


As part of the layout, each section needs to consider content, organization, size, and more. The sections a user encounters on a webpage should flow in such a way that keeps them engaged, informed, and inspired to take further action with your company.


Mobile-First and Responsive Design

When considering your web design, do you think about what it’s like to access your site via desktop vs. smartphone or tablet? If not, you should. It’s no secret that people nowadays access the internet using their phones and tablets more frequently than they do using laptops or desktops. The rise of smartphones and other handheld devices throughout the 2010 and 2020s has completely changed how people interact with the internet, making it crucial for businesses like yours to strategize their web designs to appeal to mobile users.

To help paint a picture of how vital mobile design is to the success of a website in search engine results and among users, check out these stats:

74% of Users Are More Likely to Return to Mobile-Friendly Sites

Not only that, but users are considerably more likely to find mobile-friendly sites. Since 2020, Google’s search crawlers have crawled the mobile versions of websites first, looking at desktop versions only if crawl time permitted. If your site’s not mobile-friendly, you’ll lose both return and first-look traffic. How much traffic? Let’s find out:

Mobile Devices Generates 58.2% of Global Traffic

Not being mobile-friendly can cost you as much as 58% of your potential traffic. And as more users step away from a keyboard and use their mobile phones as their primary web platform, that number will increase. Fortunately, with responsive design, businesses no longer have to maintain two separate versions of their site – one set of well-designed pages can serve both desktop and mobile users.

Mobile Commerce Comprises 60% of All Digital Commerce

Can you afford to lose 60% of your online business? Of course, you can’t. Ensuring a mobile-friendly design tells your mobile customers that their business is just as important to you as your desktop customers.

Mobile Users Will Only Try Twice to Access a Poorly Loading Website Before Giving Up

A website isn’t a baseball game, and you don’t get three strikes before you’re sent back to the bench. Most mobile users give your site two chances to load – once you fail that second test, they won’t be back. Your mobile site must perform just as well as or better than your desktop site.

Half of Mobile Users Think a Company With a Bad Mobile Site Doesn’t Care

You read that right – half of all people who land on a poorly designed or slow mobile site assume that the site is in bad condition because the business doesn’t care about its customers’ experiences. And we know that isn’t true of your business.

Mobile-friendly design matters to your business. Here are just a couple of ways revamping your mobile design can help you attract users and gain new customers:

Mobile Web Design Advances Your UX

If you’re tired of hearing about the importance of UX and creating web designs built around your users’ experiences, that’s too bad. UX matters significantly to your site and ultimately determines if your site is helpful to visitors or not.

Even if you do not prioritize your UX, it automatically plays a part in every facet of your website. Your overall UX is dictated by the characteristics of your site, including:

  • Ease or difficulty of use
  • Aesthetics that appeal or repel
  • Content that flows logically or inconsistently

Responsive Layouts Are Key to Positive UX

We’ve all visited a website on our smartphone or tablet with the same on-page design as a desktop computer. Remember how frustrating it was to zoom in on the text to read it? What about zooming in on links to determine which you should follow to complete an action or visit a secondary page? Or going slightly nuts trying to tap a tiny link?

Sites like that do not feature a responsive layout, which is a significant component of quality web design and a positive user experience on mobile. When your layout is responsive, it automatically adjusts your design to fit the screen of whatever device the visitor is using. When the design matches the screen, your visitor will have a much easier time navigating your site. Responsive design takes into account various smartphone and tablet screen sizes and allows the visuals and content to appear more clearly and be more accessible on smaller screens.

A mobile design with a responsive layout, appealing visuals, engaging content, and a well-thought-out flow of content will boost your site’s user experience, appeal, and the likelihood of converting visitors into paying customers.

Mobile Web Design Boosts SEO

Google and Microsoft bots are constantly scanning websites and storing their findings in each of their search engines’ expansive indexes. When a user enters a search into either engine, its algorithms will rely on many indexed signals—keywords, company location, site relevance, and site usability, for example—to determine which results to present to the user.

Site usability directly affects your performance in search engines, and the search engines evaluate your mobile design (or lack thereof) to verify whether your site will be usable to a user. In fact, Google indexes mobile pages first before indexing other page designs and relies on the content of these pages to determine site relevance in the searches. Mobile design is not just something Google considers favorably anymore; it’s a determining factor in your SEO ranking.

If Google or Microsoft crawlers scan your site and discover that it is not built for mobile or tablet users, it will present your mobile-friendly competitors first in a search, regardless of the device the user is searching on, and will rank them higher above your company on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Improving SEO performance through mobile-first web design can require a new responsive layout, or it can get tricky, especially if your current mobile site features content and a data structure that intentionally differs from your standard website. However, partnering with experienced web developers and designers can help make the transition as smooth and effective as possible.


We Design for Mobile and Desktop – But More Importantly, We Design for Your Audience. Give M&R a Call and Let Our Talented Designers Wow You! 478-220-4788


Part Five: Make It Real – Development and Hosting

Once your content is written and your web pages have all been designed, it’s time to move into development and send your site out there for millions of eager internet browsers to use.

This part of launching a new website is the most technical, and the individual details are far too extensive to get into here – we could easily spend another 12,000 words just talking about URLs. But we can give you a very brief overview of what you’ll want to keep in mind as you move through development and into hosting your live site.

a web developer works on their laptop

Code Is Magic: Development

There are a few different ways you can go about developing the actual code that will become a beautiful website:

Let Someone Else Do the Whole Site

The easiest solution, and by far the best one, is to contract the entire process to a trustworthy marketing team. (Not that we’re biased.) When you team up with a full-service firm that can handle the whole website launch process, everything is designed from the ground up to work together, and your workload is cut down a minimum, maximizing the time you spend enjoying the fruits of the work we do together!

Hire/Contract With a Dedicated Web Developer

If a turnkey web design service isn’t for you, but you don’t have the technical team required to develop and launch a site, you can always hire or contract with a dedicated web developer to manage the last steps of the process. Be warned, though – this solution may end up costing as much as a turnkey site and will require considerably more effort and oversight on your part.

Use an Online or Desktop Tool to Build Your Site

While we warn against using a generic template that anyone can plug information into, these can be an excellent option for companies with limited resources and limited technical acumen. You won’t be able to implement many of the advanced features we talked about earlier in this article, but for a basic information site, this is an effective way to get started. As we warned earlier, though – don’t settle for “temporary” content or design.

Learn How to DIY Web Development

Actually, no, we’re kidding. While it’s technically possible, trying to DIY your web development without a solid technical background isn’t a great option. If you remember the early days of the World Wide Web, with its static, grey, simple pages, you surely remember hearing from friends and colleagues that they taught themselves HTML. That was easy in 1998 when the HTML specifications only had a handful of tags.

Today, however, even developing a simple brochure site requires understanding HTML, CSS, SSL, JavaScript, and dozens of other languages and markup schemes.


Be Our Guests – Web Hosting

You also have hundreds of options when it comes to hosting your website. There are countless cloud services available that will provide hosting solutions with more or fewer features as your site demands.

Again, we’ll remind you that the easiest way to get your site hosted is to let the same team that designed your website manage the hosting as well. If you’re interested, we know some people.

Otherwise, you’ll need to choose a host for your website, and you’ll want to make sure you look at the following:

Bandwidth Limits and Data Caps

Particularly if your site features a lot of video, interactivities, and other data-heavy elements, it will surprise you how quickly regular traffic can eat away at a low bandwidth limit or data cap. Make sure that your hosting solution provides you with enough bandwidth and data access each month to allow all of your visitors to enjoy the same fast, high-quality web experience.


If your website collects user information – things like credit card information, job applications, or just about anything else – then your systems will become a target for hackers within just a few minutes of your site going live. If you don’t collect any such information, then you might make it through the first half hour before someone tries to break in.

A quality web hosting service will provide adequate security to keep out both casual hackers hoping for a look-see and seriously malicious actors who could end up costing your company millions. Particularly if you collect user information, you will likely be compelled to meet specific security standards by industry, federal, or international regulations.

a young female IT professional works on a web server


The modern website is a marvel, chock full of interactivities and other features that enhance the user experience. However, those features require particular software on the back end in order to work correctly. When you’re shopping for a host, make sure that their servers are capable of running the software your site needs.

Uptime and Responsiveness

A reputable web host will publish their uptime data so that you can see, on average, how much downtime you can expect to experience in a given month or year. Obviously, your site isn’t doing you any good when the server’s down, so look for a host that can offer better than 99% uptime.

You also need to know that the technical team responsible for resolving errors with your site is available and responsive around the clock. When a server or network error brings your site down – and such failures are next to inevitable – you want someone working to get you back online ASAP.

Once you’ve found the right host, you and your team will work closely with them to launch your site – and you’re done!

Oh, no, wait. You’re definitely not done. Just like a car, house, or computer, your site will need ongoing maintenance and updates.


Want a Site That’s Easy to Maintain and Update? Of Course You Do! Anything Else Would Just Be Silly – So Give Us a Call and Let Us Build You a Site That’s a Pleasure to Keep Current: 478-220-4788


Part Six: Keep It Going – Maintenance and Updating

Keep It Up to Date

You’ve built an excellent site for your nonprofit. It’s engaging, beautiful, easy to navigate, and has clear calls to action. When a user comes to your site, one of the first things they see is information about your upcoming charity gala that will be held on the night of August 14, 2023.

The only problem is that today is January 2, 2024.

Out-of-date information on a website signals to your audience that you either don’t care enough to make timely updates to your site or that you lack the time or staffing to make updates. Either way, it’s offputting, and your audience won’t stick around if they find out that your content is out of date.

There are plenty of reasons why outdated content is left online in so many cases, but the hands-down, no-contest, most common reason is simple: the website owner forgets to make the update. So, anything you can do to help yourself remember to update your website will help prevent the negative impacts of having outdated content:

Schedule Regular Site Audits

At least once every week or two, you or a member of your team should take a few minutes to review your entire website for currency. If your site’s too big for a single person to check, break it up into sections and assign each section to a team member. Any time your audit spots out-of-date information, it should be corrected immediately.

If you create a regular schedule for your site audits and stick to it, there will be very little chance for outdated information to survive on your site for more than a few days.

Set Reminders for Known Upcoming Updates

If you know that a particular piece of information has an expiration date, set a reminder on your calendar to update or remove that information after it has expired. If you’re advertising an upcoming event, for instance, set a reminder for the morning after the event to remove that content from your site. If a particular promotion will end on a given date, make sure that date is marked so that you can remember to sunset that content once the promotion is over.

Pay Attention to Detail

Sometimes, outdated information might be in a place you don’t think to look. Sometimes, a significant update on page “A” will require a minor update on page “B.” Even just swapping a verb from future tense to past tense can mean the difference between up-to-date and outdated content, so read your site carefully and make sure that small details don’t derail your bigger messaging.

a web developer makes an update to a website

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!

One of the quickest ways to turn a potential customer into a lost lead is to present them with inconsistent information. And if that conflicting information involves pricing, shipping, or other information that has to do with an actual sale or other transaction, then your lost lead is even more likely to become the disgruntled user who slams your business with negative reviews online.

One of the primary concerns when maintaining a website is ensuring the consistency of information across the site. Does your home page say that your store is open until 9:00 p.m., but your Contact Us page shows you closing at 8:00? Is registration still open for your charity golf tournament, as it says on your events page, or is the tee sheet full, as it says on the registration page?

Inconsistent information isn’t just confusing, frustrating, and (sometimes) infuriating for your customers; it also wreaks havoc with your SEO. When Google’s bot sees conflicting information on your website, it loses trust in the reliability of your content and downrates your site accordingly.

The problem is that letting a website become inconsistent is incredibly easy. A particular piece of information may live in multiple places on your website. When that information changes, if you fail to make the edit everywhere, you’re dealing with an inconsistency. The larger and more complex the website, the easier it is to forget to make an update and leave inaccurate information out there to confuse your audience.

Fortunately, some best practices can reduce or eliminate the likelihood of inconsistency as your website stays up-to-date with your business:

Simplicity Is Your Friend

As we said above, the more complex your site, the more challenging it is to keep it all consistent. By keeping your website’s design and structure as simple as possible, you’re not only making it easier for your audiences to navigate, but you’re also reducing the likelihood that an update will be left incomplete.

Link to a Single Source of Truth

The whole point of the web is that it’s super easy to link from one place to another. When you have mission-critical information that will need to be updated often, don’t repeat it in multiple locations. Instead, provide the information on a single page (the “single source of truth”) and place a link to that page anywhere you need that information to be available.

Modularity FTW

Even better than linking to a single point of truth is to develop your website with procedurally driven modules to handle frequently changing information. With most modern content management systems, you can – for instance – create an “hours of operation” module that can be embedded on any page of your site. When your hours change, all you have to do is update the module, and your entire site will be updated at one time.

Pay Attention to the Nature of the Content

If you’re not developing a website with a lot of dynamic functionalities that will allow you to automate your updates to a certain extent, then you need to be cautious about what you present on your site and be honest with yourself about how you intend to maintain it. If you can’t devote a few hours a week to updating your website, then expecting to keep an up-to-date list of ongoing projects might not be a viable option.

If there’s any doubt that you’ll be able to keep a particular piece of information up-to-date and consistent, then you need to consider not including it on the site at all. Instead, consider directing users with questions about that information to reach out in another way to get answers.

Keep a List

If you absolutely have to have a piece of information repeated on your site and it has to be updated frequently, keep a list of every page on which that information appears. Every time you have an update, go back to your list to ensure everything is kept consistent.


Watch Your Offsite Content

Changes to your website can affect your entire marketing landscape. Your social media profiles, business listings, digital advertising, and traditional and print campaigns could all be impacted when you update your site. If your billboards are showing an out-of-date URL or your social media posts are pointing to broken links, your reputation among your users will decline, and the benefits of your other marketing tools will be dramatically reduced.

When you’re updating your website, try to avoid changing things like page URLs that may be referred to in other platforms. If you do have to change a URL, make sure to set up a permanent redirect so that users who attempt to visit the old address will be automatically sent to its up-to-date counterpart.


When We Say Turnkey, We Mean It. Give M&R a Call and Explore Our Web Packages, Complete With Hosting: 478-220-4788


Part Seven: How’s It Going? – Evaluate and Assess

So you have a new website up and running, and you’ve got all your mechanisms in place for keeping it up-to-date and consistent. Now what?

Well, as always, your last step is to assess your efforts and evaluate their effectiveness. In other words – is this excellent new website actually moving the needle on your business’s goals?

One of the best things about a website is that you don’t have to guess at the answer. Thanks to robust analytics, you can discover incredibly granular information about exactly how effective your website is. Some of the standard metrics to consider include:


Return Visits

It’s rare for an internet browser to convert the first time he visits your website. Usually, a website visitor will see and interact with your brand many times before converting; it’s part of the buyer’s journey. Via Google Analytics, you can see how many returning visitors your site has. When an individual revisits your site, it’s safe to assume that he finds your content interesting or wants to continue his research into your product/service. A poorly designed website can severely impact a website visitor’s desire to return to your site and convert.



A conversion is any action that you desire your website visitor to take. It takes the visitor/company relationship to the next level because now you are receiving something, as well. Your website design plays a vital role in high conversion rates. Without an aesthetically pleasing design or streamlined navigation, your website visitor will exit your site within seconds. But, if your website is designed with your visitor’s satisfaction at the forefront, it can act as a cornerstone for conversions.


Bounce Rate

When a user views a single page on your website and leaves without taking action, they have “bounced” from your site. A high bounce rate can mean a few different things:

  • Your content is not engaging
  • Your calls to action are not effective
  • You have a confusing checkout process
  • You have irrelevant content

Although there are situations where a high bounce rate is expected, such as blogs, this metric typically indicates that something on the page needs to change. You want a low bounce rate, which means your visitors enjoy your website enough to explore its pages and stay on the site.

In addition to the factors above, other common website issues can lead to an increased bounce rate:

  • Blocked content
  • Cluttered design
  • Content errors
  • Intrusive advertisements
  • Lack of calls-to-action
  • Low-quality landing pages
  • Not responsive or mobile-friendly
  • Slow load times

If your website has one or a handful of the elements listed above, it is working against you. That must change in order to have the biggest opportunity for conversions, profit, and returning customers.


Engagement Rate

Engagement rate refers to the interaction between your website and visitors. Understandably, you want your engagement rate to be high, showing that your content intrigues and prompts your visitors to act. An engaged visitor will do one or more of the following:

  • Convert
  • Explore your site
  • Stay on your site for more than 10 seconds

Engagement rate is determined by (total engagement / total visitors) x 100. Just like bounce rate, if your website design is poorly built, visitors will not want to engage with your site.


Average Time on Page

Simply put, the average time on page metric will help you understand how engaging your website’s content is. If users are spending a few minutes on each page, they’re likely engaged with your content. On the other hand, if users spend less than 20-30 seconds on each page, something must not resonate with them. Pair this metric with the bounce rate for an even more accurate view of what’s going on.


Top Pages

For any business to be successful, it’s crucial to know exactly what’s working and what’s not. The Top Pages metric will help you understand what your website’s most popular pages are. With this metric, you’ll be able to see other key metrics that relate to your top pages, including bounce rate, time on page, and more. With this knowledge in hand, you and your team will know what content is working and what content could be improved.


Exit Pages

By exploring the exit pages metric, you can see what pages are causing your visitors to exit your website. While all your website visitors will eventually exit your site, if you have a page or group of pages that most users are exiting from, this could indicate a problem. It may be time to update content and rethink your website funnel, or there could even be a technical issue, such as images not loading correctly or just poor overall functionality.


Site Speed

Not all website issues are related to the content or design of your page – your website’s speed is just as important! With the site speed metric, you better understand how long it’s taking your site to load when accessed by a user. The average website takes about 6 seconds to load, but you should aim for 3 seconds or less. If your site’s load times are above 6 seconds, it’s unlikely many users will wait around.

a digital strategist makes a presentation on website analytics

Website Design: Wrap Up

As we said, this has been a Definitive Guide, not an Exhaustive Guide. But we figured 13,000 words was enough to read through for now, and we could write 20-30 times as much about the entire process.

Of course, if this all seems like a lot, you’re not wrong. Launching a successful website that actually moves the needle for your business is an unbelievably complicated process with more moving parts than a Boeing 787.

When you’re ready to start building your company’s website, give us a call. Our Sales team is ready to answer questions, and our talented team is ready to build a website that sings! (And dances. And provides eCommerce functionality. And protects your customer data. And…)


If You’re Ready for Some Help With Your Company Website, M&R Is Ready, Too: 478-220-4788