Printed article published in the Columbia Business Times Magazine

Written by MayeCreate’s founder Monica Pitts and originally published in Columbia Business Times magazine. Check out the Columbia Business Times for interesting profiles, news, updates on developments and important local issues.

A good website is a lot like a good microwave.  You don’t have to think to use it.  Consider the number of times you’ve went over to your in-laws house and had to use their microwave – only to be bested by the beast.  You end up accidentally resetting the clock and having to go ask for instructions to simply warm up your coffee.

Great websites are an expectation.  Bad websites serve up lukewarm leftovers better off in the dog dish.  Is your website up for human consumption?  Use these hot buttons to heat up your site:

Intuitive

Imagine if you went to a friend’s house and they had the same microwave as you!  What a relief, you’d know just how to operate the machine.  Websites should seem as easy to navigate and use as your own microwave.

Free of Excess

If every microwave had only a simple keypad and submit button, not all those confusing extra buttons, you’d know just how to operate it.  When you give people tons of extra stuff on your website – it’s just extra stuff, like those extra buttons, confusing the point and distracting from the actions you want visitors to take.  The site should clearly call viewers to action, giving them what’s needed without a ton of clicking.

Clear communication

Published article in Columbia Business Times magazine

Monica showing off her published article in the Columbia Business Times magazine

A good microwave isn’t just easy to use, it actually warms up your food in a reasonable amount of time.  Consider your dorm microwave, the one that took three minutes to heat up a hot dog one day and the next day exploded your hot dog after a one minute duration.  Frustrating right? Website visitors get just as frustrated when they can’t figure out who’s website they’re on or what your company does without having to guess, translate or dig for the information.  This includes your contact information.  

Mary Ropp, Sr. VP of Business Development, at the Bank of Missouri advised websites to speak in elementary terms. She explained, “Speaking clearly in your language isn’t the same thing as speaking clearly.  I think businesses talk in different languages.  I talk bank speak. If you’re not a banker you might not know what I’m talking about.  This happens across many industries resulting in no one knowing what anyone is saying.  Simplify your content so anyone can understand what you’re saying.”

Mobile Ready

Wouldn’t it be great if your mobile phone came with a fully operational microwave app?  Many great websites are paired with mobile apps for easy access and extended features.  Simpler than app development, every website needs a mobile friendly interface.  Mobile friendly is now a priority.  The April Google algorithm update made mobile friendly a priority.  On their blog Google explained they are “boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results” with the update.

Marie Newell, local lead graphic designer at Joe Machens Dealerships admitted, “When I’m on my phone looking at someone’s site, I expect to be able to click on their phone number, hit ‘call’ and reach them. I don’t want to be the weirdo mumbling to herself, repeating 7-10 digits out loud over and over again to hope I dial correctly.”

Meaningful content

More important than the microwave might be what you’re heating up.  Microwaves are like life support for leftovers.  Not all leftovers are created equal and all content isn’t either.  Good websites speak to a specific target audience.  Answering their questions and providing meaningful information to that audience, not just reheating leftovers for the entire population.

Explore ways to go above and beyond sharing leftover content. Deliver visitors a treat baked just for them.  “If you give visitors something engaging entertaining and fun they will come back because they enjoyed the experience,” shared Mary, “Humans spend more time on things that make them happy and entertain them.  If I can make banking fun people spend more time with me.  So I give them cookies.  Like cookies have nothing to do with banking, right?”

Easy on the eyes

Ugly websites are like microwaves without windows, it’s hard tell what’s going on inside.  You’re blinded by the ugly and can’t get past it to the message.  Add images to your site and format your content in a clear hierarchy.  Good websites are easy to scan and interpret without having to read every word.

Marie elaborated, “No matter if you’re building a website using a free theme or building from scratch with a professional development team it’s vital to customize the content and look so viewers instantly recognize who you are, what you do and how to get in touch. Bonus points are awarded for links to your social media, professional resources and examples of past work or testimonials.”

A marriage of form and functionTips and Tricks keyboard sign

Websites are more than just what you see, they have to work too.  No one wants a broken microwave.  Good websites are build on valid code, load quickly and work on all browsers.  A great website tracks visitors and provides valuable data to improve viewer interaction and monitor other marketing activities.

Good websites are easy to use and look at.  Regardless of the device they’re viewed on great websites deliver meaningful content and like a good microwave, consistently meet the expectations of all operators.

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