Whatever your role in the staffing industry, you can benefit from a first class website. But how do you take the general knowledge that the web is important to your business and turn it into a truly valuable focal point for your brand? After all you’re not a web developer, you’re trying to drive a successful business. So here are the seven things your website has to be, and the questions you can ask your web manager to find out if you’re on track.
Content needs to be like water poured into a container: it takes the shape of the container. Your site is being viewed on a variety of different types of device, from desktops and laptops to tablets and phones. Your site needs to look right and fit perfectly on each of these devices. Legibility and functionality must hold strong regardless of the size of the screen, how and where the user is engaging. Is your site optimized for touch interfaces? Do the menus work on an iPad if you’re not using a mouse?
Question you should ask your web manager: Is our site responsive?
(There’s an easy way to check. Open your site across your devices, what you see is what you get.)
2. Built for the user
Your users are your job seekers and your customers, not your staff, board or marketing department. If you haven’t talked to your users before building your site, you’re already in trouble. You might have a lot of theories, but unless you have data to base your assumptions on, they’re just assumptions.
For example: How are your candidates going to apply on a mobile site? Not many people keep their resume on their phone. Yet 47% of your communications will be read on mobile devices. So how is that reflected in your content?
Question you should ask: Did you consult your market properly? If you didn’t can you do some retrospective checks?
Scan your site. Are you using stock imagery of perfectly balanced groups of models with calculated diversity? Close ups of handshakes? It’s time to get rid of them. Audiences hate stock imagery, it is an instant kill shot. It screams laziness, cliché and same-old same-old. Nobody expects an original solution from a company using a mountain climber to symbolize ‘important struggles’.
Question you should ask: Does any of this look familiar? (13 worst examples of stock imagery.)
Your website and your social media should promote each other. Visitors to your website need to be fed into your social media community and connections within your social media need to be brought in to your web content regularly. This is simple enough to do. The key to social media, which we’ve talked about a lot before, is in the discipline of repetition. It’s not hard to do it, it’s hard to do it religiously.
Questions you should ask:
Is your social media prominent on your site, with live feeds (that’s where your tweets appear automatically on your own site’s pages), calls to action (follow me, like me etc) and content that shows the value in connecting?
Are we posting content to social media that links back to our own site?
5. LIVE and Manageable in real time
The idea of a website that you build, upload and leave up until you build a new one a few years later isn’t going to cut it. You need a system that’s as easy to update as a word document. There are many solutions, but WordPress is the best. You’re currently reading a site built on a WordPress platform. The flexibility for managing all kinds of different content and design with the most basic technical ability is extensive. Once built, you can keep it updated internally at very low cost.
Question you should ask: What’s our platform and why did we choose it?
6. Your most effective salesperson
Your website should be beating your best sales person for delivered leads. Make sure your content is focused to deliver results, not just provide information. About Us. Our History. It’s all fine, but make sure your site isn’t stopping short of moving visitors to a revenue generating conclusion.
Question you should ask: What’s the intended ‘result’ of each area of our website, and is it delivering?
7. Measurable and measured
How many visits last month, last week, yesterday? What content did they respond to? What led to conversions? There are many acceptable answers but ‘I don’t know’ isn’t one of them. These days you can track all activity in great detail. This gives you data and data tells you everything you need to know about where to invest money.
Question you should ask: Do we have analytics set up and when do I get my report on results?
Ultimately, websites are about business development and revenue growth, not creative expression.
Effectiveness is not just measured by arbitrary aesthetic criteria from a marketing consultancy that’s a little too concerned with the zeitgeist. We want you to see the value of a website that works; a site that delivers new customers, increases business from existing customers, grows profile and contributes to bottom line. You would be amazed to learn how many businesses still aren’t really pushing for their website to make a real contribution.
The ultimate question for your web developer is simply this: How much money did we make from our website last quarter?
Push for an answer and accept any response except ‘I don’t know.’
Richard Spragg is the CEO of Hirebrand. He is based in Houston, Texas. His blogs on business, marketing and the staffing industry have been read by over 200,000 people. Follow him on Twitter at @richard_spragg.