What Makes an Effective Website?
Choosing a Platform For Your Website
When building a website, where do we start? Maybe you’ve Googled something like “What makes an effective website?” and have been flooded with design recommendations and an overwhelming amount of contradicting recommendations. You’re not alone – building a website can be tricky if you aren’t guided through the process. Let’s break down the elements of an effective website!
Let’s start with the boring stuff – choosing your tech stack. There are many website providers, and each has pros and cons.
The primary considerations for choosing your tech stack are fairly simple:
- Will the website be fast? – Every key factor to your website and digital marketing efforts is impacted by how quickly your website will load – conversion rates, bounce rates, and traffic metrics are all improved by having a site that loads in three seconds or less. In fact, over HALF of your website visitors will leave if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to lead.
- Can you manage it easily? – Small businesses have to be able to be agile to make changes necessary to improve the site – being able to log in or have your website team make changes quickly will be impactful.
- Will it last? – The worst-case scenario for building a new site is having to go back and build it again in a year. The site should have lasting power – both in design and technology so you can focus on building the business.
There are boxed website solutions like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. These solutions are great for people who want to set up a website with no technical background and feature easy-to-use drag-and-drop builders, boxed template solutions, and customization options that do not require you to know a line of code to build a site. The downside to these boxed solutions is that they are limited in what they allow you to do. Adding customizations can be very difficult or expensive, and there is limited control over how fast the platform responds. These solutions often look very pretty, but are very poor performing when it comes to front-end page load speed and size of the website.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can build a website on cutting-edge web technology using things like angular or react. These frameworks enable websites to be incredibly snappy and low in size but require advanced technical skills. Websites like Netflix and PayPal use these because they have endless resources to build and manage these sites. The downside here is obvious – building a site using these newer technologies is impossible if you do not have a whole stack of technical resources.
How about when you have to make a change to the site? There isn’t a forward-facing dashboard for you to go in and change a phone number, you’ll need to have it built and released, which makes these solutions often out of consideration for small businesses.
Here at Sleep Apnea Leads, we use WordPress because of its customization options and abundance of support generated by the millions who use the platform to power their websites.
WordPress offers the freedom to build using high-end technical solutions as well as offering an easy-to-use dashboard to update and make changes to the site without going through a full development cycle. Another positive to using WordPress in the impressive number of useful plugins available to achieve any goal you set out.
One downside to WordPress is that when you add all of your functional plugins, it can bloat the size of the site making it challenging to keep your WordPress site updated and secure. A second downside to WordPress is its easy target for security breaches.
Designing Your Website
Now the fun part – designing your website! Building a website from scratch is exciting. Everything is possible, and it can often be intimidating because it’s very difficult to know what you like without having something that exists to compare it to.
Here is where you can lean back on your market research and your brand-building experience! The easiest way to know what you like is to look at other websites that connect with you and catch your eye. Every company will use other websites to develop ideas to launch their own unique website.
Borrowing elements from each site you like can help you build your custom design. It’s important not to copy, but you can use other website designs as inspirations for your website build.
The Design Checklist
The design also comes with its own checklist of requirements. The market has certain expectations when they visit a website, and deviating too far from those expectations can result in a confusing user experience and impact how many conversions come from your site.
It all starts with the homepage – the home for your brand and most certainly the page that will get the most traffic:
- Build a strong heading and sub-heading – People glance and scan around the web so quickly that you need to be able to connect your message to visitors within a few seconds. The headline should serve as a clean and straightforward message outlining who you are. The heading should be supported by a sub-heading that briefly describes what you do.
👉One tip for an impactful sub-heading is to connect with a common pain point for your patients.
- Content is King – There are dozens of web copy frameworks, but the most important consideration is delivering a message that connects your users’ pain points to their desired outcome.
- Easy navigation – It should be easy for users to navigate the site. This means the menu needs to be readable, easy to find, and not overly complicated.
- Calls-to-action – Make it easy for users to get in touch with you! This means clickable phone numbers that instantly bring up the call on mobile phones, buttons that lead them to forms, and directions to your office that stand out. Calls-to-action are needed multiple times on the page to build a sense of urgency to contact you.
- Features and benefits – How does visiting your practice impact your patient’s lives? These are the kinds of questions you want to answer to make your users find the information they’re seeking quickly and effectively. These messages reinforce the need to take action.
- Social proof – People trust people, at least online they do. Featuring positive reviews on your site will add a layer of trust factor and credibility to the message.
- Success indicators – Here you will ensure your message is clear – Outline how effective the treatment has been for others.
Building your supporting pages becomes much more manageable once your homepage design is mapped out and a concept is built. We recommend using a staggered design path that starts with the homepage, a single services page (sleep apnea treatment, for example), and then the contact and support pages. In most cases, all service pages use the same template with unique content and imagery on each page.
Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
The final pillar of an effective website is having a responsive design. On average, your website will see 60% of traffic coming from mobile visitors.
Building a website from a mobile-first approach can be an effective way to ensure all elements of the site look and feel good in a smaller format.
All of these tips and more are included in our Ultimate Sleep Apnea Website Checklist, including stunning stats about how much your website influences patients’ opinions of you. Get the checklist for free here.