This is a guest post from Adam at Investing.co.uk.
If you’re investing thousands of dollars into a new website and brand, you might want to consider getting a custom theme designed and developed.
The advantage of custom theme and logo is that it will help your brand stand out from the crowd and become more memorable. When people see great content combined with a nicely designed and well structured website, they’re far more likely to comeback or share it with their friends.
Knowing what you Want from your Website Design
In my opinion it’s not good enough to just ask a designer to come up with a nice design for you. You have to do the legwork and research in order to work out how your site should be structured. This includes what type of logo you want, what message you want to send out to users, your tagline, and how you want users to navigate your website.
Planning a design for an affiliate comparison site, news portal, information site, ecommerce or reviews website are completely different things. For starters, the homepage needs to convey to users what your brand is about and help funnel them to the appropriate pages.
For example, on a news website the most important feature should be big digestible headlines, dates, images and videos or commentaries. You want people to be able to see the latest news (possibly even include markets, charts and prices in your widget area) and be able to click to read more.
If the proposed value is from comparison tables and deals than you need to make it clear that you site is a comparison site and make the deals accessible to users. You’ll probably want to capture emails with a prominent capture box too, so that you can send deals directly to your customers’ email. The problem I see with many affiliate sites is that they lack a distinct identity or content. If you’re an experienced trader than make sure that’s evident throughout your site – such as a big, cartoon logo that states who you are and how you can subscribe for even more tips or market analysis.
If you have a big information site, or investment guide like my site Investing.co.uk, you need clear sections that users can navigate too as well as a professional design that screams trust. Investopedia.com also uses a clever dynamic navigation system in their main menu. This helps users find what they’re looking for which should increase your page views and conversion rates.
Adding Social Signals and Icons to your Site
In 2013 adding social signals and other ways for users to subscribe to your content is extremely important. Forget just sticking a Facebook box in the sidebar – this is a waste of precious ad space and doesn’t really add any value. In my opinion, you need to have links to all three major social media sites – Twitter, Facebook and G+ – make it as easy as possible for people to Tweet, follow and share your content. You should also encourage users to share your content at the end of every article and run regular competitions for doing so.
I know many people who actually spend more time updating their Facebook pages than they do for their website. Remember that when you get a new site designed, you should also get unique favicon, cover photos and logos made for each of your social pages.
Build your Site with the End-User and Interaction in Mind
There are subtle things that distinguish an authority, well-managed site to a generic competitor. One of the most important things in my opinion is connecting with your users. Ideally you want a website that provides a platform to do this, such as installing DISQUS comments on your site, Facebook comments integration, user-review system, having a Q&A section, forum, or at the very least making it easy for users to get in touch with you through a Contact Form.
Creating Link Bait on your Website
This is for more advanced webmasters, but a great way of building natural links is to code special features of items to your website and then send out a Press Release announcing this. For example, conduct surveys on your site and publish the results, run competitions such as casino of the month or year with a fair voting system, install rankings tables on your site (the media love to research and comment to these sorts of things). Imagine another scenarios where you have a section, which posts casino scam news or operators that refuse to pay players. This type of content gets linked to all of the time in the gambling industry.