Our very own Rob Finnie, regional director, looks at the top 10 website musts for 2015.

2014 was a shape shifter in digital marketing. If you’re in business in the UK – you can no longer afford to ignore online. In 2015, you may be taking your first steps to getting your business online or be ready to upgrade your site to take advantage of the seismic shift in online sales.

The top 10 things to consider when deciding what to prioritise in 2015:

1. Go Responsive

This is priority number one for any new web project. 2015 will see more visits to websites via mobile and tablet devices than via desktops as ‘m-commerce’ hits its stride. Your site needs to adapt, scale and reflow to suit the device it’s being viewed on – or you risk turning your clients and potential customers off.


2. Get it live

Don’t delay your launch while you deliberate over the content or the budget. Sure, it’s important for your site to say the right things, but you can refine and change what it says once it’s live. Getting some content in and getting it live so search engines can start trusting you, is a benefit.  If you don’t want to pay for it all at once, don’t. Most website developers will be happy to work to a ‘staged’ approach. Determine what is a ‘must have’ now and then plan what you think stage 2 or 3 might be.  Good websites are never finished. They are always growing and changing.


3. Check out the competition

Benchmarking yourself against your competition saves you time and cost. Check out how you measure up before building your own site. And don’t be blinded by beauty; a website which converts visitors to buyers has a perfect balance of content, function, navigation and good looks.


4. Plan your Customer journey – keep it simple

Keep prospects interested. Where do they want to go? What information do they need to take the next step? Plan their route through your website and lead them there. Only include relevant text, facts and imagery. Better still; watch a friend using your site. Ask them to find a specific product or information. You may be shocked at the results.


5. Include Calls-to-Action

If you’re creating a website to gather leads or interact with potential customers, make sure you’re clear on what you want your prospects to do. Calls to action help you monitor your conversion ratio. If you want them to contact you, show them how.


6. Get your site found online (SEO)

Content is king… and queen… and emperor too. Ensure your site has relevant text which includes your key words. There are many tools, to guide you through the ‘on-site’ requirements to help your site rank well. Do it yourself, or get your agency to do it for you. Keep content concise and write for humans, not machines.


7. Blog, and keep blogging

Not only does it make Google happy, but it’s also a way to connect with your audience, state your views and keep prospects up to date on your activities and services. Link in your social media – the more connected you are the, wider your reach.


8. Don’t assume instant traction

Your site is live; it looks great, the message is clear – but that doesn’t mean people are going to find it. The design, build and launch are just the beginning. Plan how you are going to market your new site both online and offline. Get the message out via direct mail and leaflets as well as SEO.


9. Ask for feedback

Canvas opinion of how your site works. Is the site portraying the right message, is it guiding prospects to take action with you? If it isn’t, change it. Test it. Monitor the analytics and make regular tweaks and changes to improve the customer experience.


10. Think ahead and maintain

Ensure your site is built on strong foundations so it can grow with your business. You don’t want to have to start again and pay again just to add that feature you like. Don’t sit back and think ‘job done’. The best websites evolve and are updated regularly. Plan your next steps.
www.nettl.com are offering £500,000 of web development grants to SMEs to help them get online in 2015. www.nettl.com is supporting small businesses with a free one-hour consultation for UK small businesses including a £500 grant for a Nettl :Commerce online web shop. Contact your local Nettl studio in Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin and London or for more details, see ww.nettl.com.