Develop, represent, and promote the next generation of business professionals
22 September 2020

Guide for an optimized and efficient website

Myriam Forest

Spécialiste en communication marketing

How to have a good website? This is the question that many people ask themselves!

You only have 8 seconds...

Yes! It's not much, but 8 seconds is the time the visitor gives you to capture his attention and make him want to stay and browse your website.

The different facets of a good website

But what exactly is an optimized website? What characteristics must it have to be considered optimal? Here are some of them:

  • Pleasant: Navigation must be simple and pleasant. The goal here is to provide an optimal user (UX) experience.
  • Adaptable: Make sure you have a responsive model, i.e. one that will allow your website to adapt to the user's screen format (computer vs. tablet vs. phone). And consider developing in Mobile First mode, i.e. cell screen view mode first.
  • Efficient: Your site must convert and reach your objectives; make sure to include enough calls to action and ideally allow for either: a purchase, a contact for a quote or for a phone or email follow-up, a subscription to a newsletter, etc.
  • Visible: Obviously, we must be able to find you! An optimized site will therefore easily stand out in the list of results on search engines such as Google.
  • Personalized: When we open the website, we must feel at home with you. Present a clear and unique brand image and positioning.
  • Useful: Your visitors are looking for information. About you, your company, your services, how to contact you, etc. Make sure you present them with relevant, complete and easily retrievable information.
  • Clear: Present a clear offer (benefits, competitive advantage, unique value proposition). If they don't quickly understand what you're doing, you're missing the point.

The key steps

Whether you are in the process of redesigning or creating a website, here are the key steps that will allow you to set up a successful site:

1/ Define your needs, capacities and budget

The first step in any project to redesign or launch a website should be planning. What do you ultimately want to accomplish? But also what means do you have in financial terms, in terms of skills, in terms of time to allocate? Ask yourself the right questions.

What is not working well at the moment? Do an audit of your site and consult your users/customers.

Will you do it all yourself? Or will you hire an agency? A freelance web designer? A web programmer?

2/ Selection of the platform and your suppliers

The rendering of your website will of course depend on the chosen platform.

A Wordpress site? A custom website ? A site on Squarespace, Shopify, Wix ?

Make no mistake, there is not a single right answer here. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.

The previous step, the identification of your needs and capacities (personal or team), as well as your budget, is more than essential. It is this step that will guide you towards the best solution for you.

3/ Creation of the tree structure and the model

The step often overlooked when you first get on the web! But it is the most crucial step. Depending on your needs, a return to the previous box may be necessary.

First, define the menu(s) that will be on your website (and their corresponding sub-menus). Here you must identify all the pages of your website and the structure to find them. In short, think about your customer path. How will it navigate on your website? Keep it as simple and concise as possible. There is nothing worse than a website where the user doesn't know where to go and can't easily find the information he is looking for.

The mock-up is a bit like the graphic counterpart of the structure. We take out paper and pencil and hop! We draw. We want boxes, columns, a picture here, a text there. A very important step in the creation of a custom website. If you're dealing with a graphic designer, the creation of the mock-up is likely to be part of the work he will provide you with. On the other hand, if you make your own website, this work will help you find the right model.

4/ Modification of the brand image and drafting of texts

An optimized website is of course a site that reflects your brand image, that is pretty and pleasant to navigate.

If you are due to review your brand image, it would be important to do the work before redesigning a website. Avoid image banks as much as possible. Consider hiring a graphic designer to create custom icons to make navigation easier. Have your color palette validated so as not to tire the eyes of your users.

In your texts as well as in your visuals, think purified: less is more.

Don't hesitate to call upon an editor for your texts and have them revised. And think about your keyword strategy!

When creating the content of your website, don't forget the legal aspects of language, privacy policies and user data management (Bill C-28, RGPD, etc.). A.e lawyer is here your best ally!

5/ Implementation of the structure and integration of the content

Then the website must be set up. Create the pages, menus, integrate texts, photos, forms, etc...

You have decided to take charge of this part? If you are not comfortable with the chosen platform, do not hesitate to ask for help from a professional of the chosen platform to train you on it.

If your choice was made on Wordpress, the queen of the training is Kaylynne Johnson. For Shopify, it's Maude Lavoie from NitroMedia. For my part, with my colleague Karine Rahmani, I offer training for Squarespace via MKT Conseils.

6/ SEO optimization

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or natural/organic referencing corresponds to the elements that will influence the positioning of a website in the first natural results of search engines.

In short: it's to make sure to stand out easily on Google without advertising or publicity! It is important to know that SEO is a very complex element and that it is affected by a multitude of factors, including the quality of your website. It is a continuous process.

However, here is a small, non-exhaustive list of elements to take into account in the basic SEO optimization of your website:

  • Remember to include meta-titles and meta-descriptions on each page.
  • Make sure to optimize your images (avoid text within the image, proper file name, resolution and weight in web format so as not to slow down your website, alternative texts and clear descriptions with relevant keywords, etc.).
  • Make sure that your titles (H1,H2, H3, etc.) in your texts contain the right keywords.
  • Validate the structure of your URLs. Don't forget to redirect if necessary!
  • Are you using Wordpress? Install Yoast SEO!
  • Test the speed of your website and apply the necessary changes to increase the speed of your website.
  • Correct 404 errors.
  • If you haven't already done so, switch to HTTPS.
  • Do you have backlinks pointing to your website? What quality are they?

7/ Test phase (beta mode)

Test for errors, but also to validate the user experience (UX). Do you have a clear customer journey? Have you included enough calls to action? How do users navigate your site? Problems, dissatisfactions? It's time to list everything that's not working and fix the problems!

8/ Launch

Once the problems have been solved, your site adjusted and optimized, don't forget to launch it to your target audiences! Your newsletter and social networks must be part of your communication strategy.

And, don't forget to inform Google of the changes as well! The Google Search Console is a very interesting (and free!) tool that will allow you to signal Google robots to inspect your site and adjust your SEO positioning.

9/ Then, what do we do?

Bad news: the work is never finished! Final adjustments, in-house training, content creation (especially to feed this famous blog!), not to mention the analysis and testing that needs to be done on an ongoing basis.

Your best friends: Google Analytics and Google Search Console and a tool like Hotjar if your budget allows it. Don't forget to install your Facebook pixel either.

Online sales: a must?

With the pandemic, some companies that had not previously considered online business have rushed into this avenue.

Obviously, e-commerce has its advantages, allowing companies to serve customers in new geographical areas, without contacts, without premises, etc..

But beware! Online sales are not for everyone. You have to question your ability to manage shipping, the costs associated with shipping fees and online payment platforms, your hosting and user data security, etc.

Should you have a blog?

Integrating a blog into your new website is a great idea to attract visitors to your website, position yourself as an expert in your field, increase your SEO positioning on relevant keywords, explain a complex product/service and get a customer through a longer than average buying process, etc.

On the other hand, make sure that you are comfortable writing and have the time to maintain the blog and make your articles travel further than your website, whether it is via a newsletter or your social networks. You must also be able to create original and relevant content!

In conclusion

Remember: unfortunately there is no magic or unique recipe. Your website will grow with you and your business.

Be very attentive to your needs, your abilities and your budget! We can never repeat it enough. Everything starts from this analysis.

And don't forget that it's a process that never ends: you have to plan, you have to test and then correct to evolve.

Myriam Forest

Consultant and marketing web

Komunikaté || MKT Conseils

For more than 10 years, Myriam has worked in marketing and communication in companies ranging from SMEs to multinationals. Now an entrepreneur, she founded Komunikaté, in order to offer her expertise in web marketing to a clientele composed of self-employed workers, entrepreneurs, NPOs and SMEs who want to learn how to better communicate with their online communities.

Co-Project Manager for the Young Entrepreneurs Network with the Jeune Chambre de Commerce de Montréal for two years now, she likes to help people in their respective business projects. In addition, Myriam also co-directs MKT Conseils, a small company specialized in web visibility and online marketing training.