Why your website needs to be fit for purpose

Web sites are excellent marketing tools for third sector enterprises but along with all the other roles and hats we have to wear, marketing often gets pushed aside. But there is one important question all third sector enterprises and entrepreneurs should ask themselves and ask it today “what should our web site look like?” Here at CSI we have developed three simple rules of website design based on our own experience of using the internet in the business world on a regular basis and more importantly our website as a marketing tool for increasing our business.

The starting point is deciding what the website’s job is. Is it a marketing tool, simply an on-line brochure or is it a reference site where people can find information? Is it an e-commerce and customer service site - the only way a customer will ever deal with you and your business or maybe a mixture of all the above. I know this seems obvious but for many third sector enterprises and organisations their websites are often confusing and are really only there because they know that they have to have one. Once you have that clear website job in your mind the rules we work to are as follows:

  • The landing page should tell someone immediately what the organisation does, using great graphics if appropriate as a picture is worth a thousand words and strong but simple messaging – your positioning statement – and written in a manner that everyone can understand. And remember this is your chance to tell someone how it benefits them to do “business” with you, so it should concentrate on the ‘how we can help you’ part of your positioning

  • Remember that many visitors to the website might be looking for some very basic information – such as contact details. I cannot tell you how many times I go to a website and have to search for an address, phone number or email. And the thing that I find the most off putting is when a site offers a form as the only way to communicate with the company with no sign of a phone number or email anywhere – why on earth would an organisation make it difficult for someone to contact them? I would suspect that like me many people click off the website at this point and go to a competitor that gives easy to find and multiple contact options

  • Make sure that the website does not become a shining example of ‘design over function’ The design is vital – a site has to give off the right initial impression that should match the product and service you are offering but too many websites are lead by design with the functionality coming a poor second. Three simple rules, great design with even greater functionality and a site that is fit for purpose whoever the visitor is. If you want to know more about using your web site as a marketing tool choose CSI to support you, free at point of delivery if you have access through the Worcestershire County Council (WCC) new voucher system for infrastructure support.