How to build a professional website: Part 1 – Site Flow
Welcome to the blog! Over this series we will be talking about how to build a professional website. Let's get down to it!
The first thing you should consider when building a website; isn't graphics, isn't banners, isn't ad placement, and isn't the products you're going to sell. It really should be site flow. So what is site flow? Site flow and site flow management describe how users are going to interact with your website, where they're going to show up on your site, what they're going to be presented with, and where you want them to go. Site flow should be the driving force behind the development of your website. it should be the very first conversation you have with your web developer and should be the very last conversation with you-you have with your web developer.
What do I mean by that? Essentially this, your web developer should have an initial meeting with you where they cover your core use cases and the use cases of your customers or your visitors. In this conversation, they should lay out business flows for how you and your customers interact with your proposed website. Your developer should then map out how your use cases and your customers' use cases look from a site map perspective. -This map should be a visualization of how the different webpages, concepts, features, and ideas work within the website; as well as how the technologies you need to be successful as a business integrates into your web solution.
if you have a shop, how do your customers check out and purchase things from your shop? Does it require integration into PayPal, or stripe, or something else? Or another example, if your website has a lead capture tool, or a way for people to leave their phone number or email address for you to follow up with them, does that integrate into your mailchimp account, a different software, or does it just send you an email?
Tying it back in
These are the types of things your web developer should have an idea of and should be able to present to you in a visual way. You both should go over this site map in detail prior to any development. You should feel comfortable with how the site is going to be laid out how the different pages interact with one another and the solutions that your web developer is chosen for your business to enable it. If you have multiple landing pages your web developer should be able to explain why you need multiple landing pages, and how they help things like your search engine optimization. Likewise, if you plan to differentiate yourself from your competition you should be able to communicate how you are different than your competition to your web developer, and then your web developer should be able to communicate back how your specialized branding will be incorporated into your site flow.
Speaking of search engine optimization! Your web developer should have extensive search engine optimization experience. They should be able to incorporate the principles of good search engine optimization, and persistent inbound marketing, into your website design. Meaning, for example, your YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and all your other social media accounts should tie back into either your blog, or landing page, or your main page. There should be logic and reason behind how each social media account integrates into your website and helps drive relevant traffic. Think of site flow and your site flow management plan as an investment! You'll take an extra hour of web development time, but in doing this you reduce the amount of rework needed later for your web developer to fully meet your expectations. You also will have better results in the traffic coming into your website (meaning a lower bounce rate, more leads, more return users, and longer dwell times for site users).
Not too late!
Lastly, if you already have a website but you notice that your bounce rate is too high or you're not driving relevant traffic, it's not too late to redesign site flow. You probably already have fantastic content on your webpage, it just needs to be reorganized in a way that helps users find the information they need sooner or helps drive browsing in a way that keeps users on your page longer. With a small investment of an hour or two of web developers time, you can dramatically increase the number of sales leads and improve your ranking in search engines as a result of better site flow management. So, if you are experiencing problems with site flow user experience or search engine optimization I highly recommend you seek out a solution that incorporates better site flow into your web design.
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