Site Intent and the Competitive Landscape

Foundational Website Considerations
A successful website hinges on several components being well executed.

The journey starts here. What’s the purpose of your website? Why are you building it in the first place? What are your competitors doing, which appears to be working, and what are they doing which does not resonate with you?

Why are you offering this product or service? What are the key searches someone might do to reach a product or service like yours, and what pages or information could you develop which would draw the right people to you?

Most people run with their gut feel or copy what everyone else is doing. Time invested in a careful, strategic analysis at the beginning of the design process will pay off in a better site and more tuned traffic. A solid website starts with doing the hard work of analyzing your market’s needs, and discerning what key advantages you bring to the table. And we can help you do that.

Information Architecture

What’s really important to have on the site, and how will it all hang together? That’s the site architecture. It’s most readily seen in the navigation, and can make the difference between a site that is clear and easy to navigate, and a site that is confusing and makes visitors wonder where they are, and why they are there.

Here you’re not just trying to define what pages you might have and how they might be connected, but you’re also thinking in terms of the pages and posts, thus the content, which will draw your target audience in. What is your target audience interested in learning more about? How does that need relate to what your business provides? And how can you integrate it into your site? Will this content come in the form of blog posts, or should some of it be integrated permanently into the site?

The Wireframe

The next step is to develop a wireframe, which is nothing more than a quick sketch of each page on the site, basic headings, and a rough idea of where images and other non-text content will sit. At this level, there is no need to focus on actual textual detail.

The advantage of the wireframe is that it gives you a plan. One important thing to keep in mind during this phase is that you should choose a theme and plugins which will support your wireframe. If your wireframe includes a full-width slider, your theme better support that, or you will need to find a plugin that will support that functionality; otherwise, your wireframe is just wishful thinking. So building the wireframe is something that should be done with the theme in mind.

A Word About WordPress Themes

Here at Denver Web and Video we primarily use the Divi theme, which has been around for many years, offers a great deal of flexibility and support, and we give our customers a free year of access to this pro theme. However, we also work with our customers who are not interested in a theme change, so it’s not unusual for us to work with the customers existing theme.

The Content

Scannable Text

The content is primarily text, but also includes images, video, and can include other assets as well. It all depends on the purpose of your site. Often, you will already have the content clearly established, the text in good form, and you may even have pertinent, quality images to go with the text.

But more commonly the content has not been optimized for the web, where visitors to your website are in a hurry. When a person is searching for content on the web, they are like a driver speeding down the highway, trying to read billboards. So, make sure your billboard says what may be pertinent for that speeding visitor. You do this by carefully researching your headings, using headings liberally, chunking text so it can be more easily digested, and using bulleted and ordered lists where appropriate.

On most of my pages, I make use of a sidebar component, so that the page will not be too wide. Pages that are too wide force the reader to read long lines of text which studies have shown is harder to do than reading shorter lines of text.

Pertinent, Optimized Images

First, the image should be pertinent to the text it is associated with. Images should not be randomly inserted, or you will lose the interest of the reader. If you can’t find or create an image that fits and even helps to clarify the text, then don’t use an image at all.

Often, the image can be cropped to either change the meaning of the image, or to focus on the content in the image that pertains to the text even better. This in effect lets you zoom in on the image.

Images should be sized correctly for the page (in pixels); so a 1920×1080 monitor might show the entire page, but rarely does the image have to be that big (unless it’s a background image). For an image that is going to be embedded into an article, within a div that is full-width, minus a sidebar, you really don’t usually need to go more than about 500 to 700 pixels wide. Now an artist gallery is an entirely different thing – in these cases you set the image size as big as the magnified size of the image will be once the visitor clicks on the image. So the size of the image in pixels should be as big as it will ever been seen.

Typically, you’ll want to compress your images using various compression tools such as tinypng.com; always keep the master, of course, and upload your compressed version to the website.

Blogging and Social Media

Blogging is a way to keep the site content relevant to both new and old readers. If your site doesn’t draw repeat visits, it’s probably because your site doesn’t change from month to month or week to week. Blog content is one way to offer something new and different to your website, so it is not static and ‘dead’.

Most companies find keeping a blog active to be a challenge. If you’re not going to keep a blog up to date, conventional wisdom dictates that the blog should be removed, because an out-of-date blog sends a bad message to prospects. Sometimes you can assign someone to that task, but you can also hire it out.

Smaller businesses may want to pick two social media channels to be active in, such as Linked In and YouTube; depending on your business, some channels may be a better fit. Just like blogging, this needs to be kept up to be effective.

If all this sounds overwhelming, reach out to us via the Contact page and let’s talk about where we can come alongside and help.