Second Dose of Secret Sauce: Exceptional Website Tips
June 15, 2020
PART 2: This is part two of our series. Read part one here.
In this wild time where we are all reevaluating our businesses and what really matters, we thought it was time to rally the troops and bring you some helpful information – the secret sauce for an exceptional website. Here are some honest thoughts and advice from several of the great people we work with on Switchback Creative projects. Some is advice directly from us and our team, while some is from the freelancers we have the pleasure to work with on a project by project basis.
In this post we are focused on our best website advice in a few key areas.
Why focus on website development? In the coming months and years, we predict we will see everyone coming online in some form, – especially those who were not occupying meaningful digital space before the onset of Covid-19. A good web presence has long been critical to a successful business – but ‘good’ isn’t good enough anymore. We are all going to be more discerning on who we work with and where we spend our time and money going forward.
What is one thing you wish businesses would consider more when looking to work with someone in your field?
From a designer
“We want business owners to understand that having a web designer that works hand-in-hand with a web developer every step, means you can speak to the real challenges your customers have and address them directly both visually, verbally and through the experience itself. It’s the first impression showcasing how good you are at what you do or not. – Suzy Rounce, Creative Director, Switchback Creative
From a strategist
”Strategy matters and being clear about ‘who this is for’ matters. Clients are often excited for the end result – like a new website. But understanding the importance of the plan to build that site cannot be overlooked. I always encourage an audit of the site in the shoes of a client. Let’s walk through things to understand the potential pain-points, blindspots, and redundancies. This process involves leaning in and being empathetic to those who will be the end users – it allows us to build a strategy that is centered around the client. From there, messaging, look and feel, images, etc. flow out naturally.” – Alanna Maria, strategist, Love from Maria
From a web developer
“A lot of developers and designers use the term ‘custom built website’ too much, without it actually being custom. When we say custom, that means that every line of code that is written for your website, was written just for your website. For the most part when a designer/developer says custom, just mean taking a pre-made template and manipulating it. To me that’s not custom and it’s not 100% honest. Taking a pre-made template and changing it is exactly that, it is not a custom website. When you use pre-made themes, you might be able to get it to look nice but when you peel back the layers there is so much code bloat, that the website’s performance and SEO suffers because of it. When you truly create custom website, the only code is code that is needed, which means not only a website that looks great, but the performance and SEO is light years from that of a templated website.” – Trevor Rounce, Full-stack developer, Switchback Creative
From a copywriter
“For content to truly reflect a company’s purpose/insights/thought-leadership while connecting with the right audience, a foundational VOICE, along with a clear STRATEGY as to WHY THIS content is required. This brings so much more value to your audience. Content needs a real purpose and reason for existing – particularly since your content will become your evergreen, valuable pieces that you can use in other marketing avenues. Including networking opportunities, presentations, articles, social media platforms, forum communications, annual reports, and so forth.
If you want content that connects, make sure your writer understands the strategy and overall purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish with your content in addition to having great writing skills.” – Lindsay Harle-Kadatz, copywriter, The Write Harle
From a photographer
“Choosing a photographer for your website photos doesn’t have to be a labour intensive process, but you should put some care and attention into it. You’ll want to ensure that the photographer you select is a good fit for your brand. Just like different shoe stores carry different styles of shoes, photographers shoot and edit in different styles as well. If it’s important that your website photos are bright and colourful, then you’ll want to ensure that you select a photographer who’s style isn’t dark and moody, and vice versa. Wondering where to start? Take a peek at their online portfolio and make a note of the images you’re drawn to. After all, a ‘picture is worth a thousand words.’” – Kate, photographer, Kate Daniel Photography
How does what you bring to creating a website drive customers to act; how does it leave them wanting to learn more?
From a designer
“Igniting a passion in the client to see their website design as more than just a business tool, but rather a reflection of who they are to the world helps them to see process as important as the destination. If you can find that place to be excited about what you are putting out into the world as a vision, aside from just a product – the more story you put into it all. We know you have a great product, but we don’t want you to miss the value of the marketing and creative angle. We are here to help you see the value of true creative to showcase your product can help bring out that passion all over again.” – Jordana Clark, Graphic Designer, Switchback Creative
From a strategists
“The act of empathy – experiencing the site through the eyes of the client and keeping their experience at the forefront of the strategy – allows for simple tweaks, decision making, and a final product clearly built for a specific audience. Having a strong strategy allows you to be consistent and clear when addressing the needs of your audience.” – Alanna Maria, Strategist, Love from Maria
From a developer
“We have designers that look after design, so I can concentrate on performance and user experience. Our websites are super fast, so your online clients never have to wait, which has been proven time and time again that if users have to wait, they leave. I have they ability to work with a team that takes care of the design, so I can specialize in writing super efficient and fast code. Which translates to better user experience, better SEO and very fast websites. It leaves them wanting more because having a fun and interactive website that is easy to use with help users stay engaged with your content and message. If it’s the same looking website that everyone is using just with your content plunked in, it makes for a generic web experience that users will get tired and bored of. If getting a job is between you and another company, and you both have very similar template websites, you’re almost leaving it up to chance. Having a unique custom website will give you the leg up and most likely, if everything else if equal, help land you that new client!” – Trevor Rounce, Full-stack Developer, Switchback Creative
From a copywriter
“Simple: create content that people are already searching for and that speaks to what they need. By starting with brand and strategy prior to content development, content developers are able to better support clients with content that connects, builds rapport with their readers (building a connected community), and encourages them to act in LANGUAGE that they actually use. It’s a balance between enhancing the brand voice while directly connecting with the audience with where they are at: emotionally, mentally, and vocabulary-wise when online.”
It leaves them (the reader – not the website client) wanting to learn more because the content is speaking directly to them. This leaves them engaging in newsletter sign-ups, blog comments, attending presentations…picking up the phone, and so forth. When content connects, you build community with those people who are your real clients. Without a strategy, this can still happen…but not sustainably.” – Lindsay Harle-Kadatz, Copywriter, The Write Harle
From a designer
“Custom design means the tone and visual vocabulary matches what your brand is about. It’s the lobby of your company online. It’s the right impression that sets the stage for you to present who you are and what you do. When it’s done with attention to every detail people are poised to pay attention and believe that you can do what you say you can do.” – Suzy Rounce, Creative Director, Switchback Creative
Thank you to the great people we get to work with for their contribution to this content. These people know what they are doing and have created amazing things with our great clients over the years.