Factors to consider when developing a website in Sri Lanka
A few years back a website for business was a ‘nice-to-have’ in Sri Lanka. But, things have started to change slowly but surely as there has been a lot of activity online with the easier access to internet and the government’s support towards the ICTA initiatives. However, it must be said that most Sri Lankan websites are still at a basic level of functionality and lack that user-friendliness that you expect from them. With the entrance of new players in the market we see some innovative and creative ideas popping-up, but, the rate of adoption has been slow.
In today’s modern world a website is a must to have for any business (even vegetable sales are done through a website, check anything.lk’s vegetable delivery service for proof). A website is not just another add-on, it represents the brand and there have been businesses that have excelled due to the creativity put forward through their online presence.
It is true that taste differs from person to person, and the same can apply to their preference of a website layout / design. But, there are several universal principles that stand-out in a successful website and these drive your ROI as well. As a starter we compiled a list of factors designers and website owners should consider when developing a website in Sri Lanka. It came up to a total of 10 factors (we may have missed a few, ao please do keep your comments coming so that everyone can benefit). Not satisfying these factors may lead to your website not performing as expected.
1.Distinguish your viewers
Visitors to a website like a website and make repeat visits to that specific website as really like it. For example, Google News and Yahoo are spending a lot of money on creating add-ons and features to customize their sites based on the user profile. Similarly knowing the people who will visit your website, i.e. knowing your target segment is the first factor to consider. Therefore, you should know the answer for these two questions:
- Who is my target audience?
- What do they want?
2.Purpose of your site
Next factor to consider is to know why you want the website. What are you going to use it for? Is the website just a tool to inform people? Or is it going to be used to drive sales? Or is it going to act as a lead generation tool? Or is it just going to be an entity to give an online presence? Based on your usage of the website the design will need to be changed (especially the technicalities and functionalities). We firmly believe that the more you are clearer about the usage the more effective the website will be.
3. Check-out what your competitor’s are doing
There is no rule that says that you can’t spy on your competition. So go ahead check what your competitors have done with their websites. This gives you an idea of what to do and what not to do. Based on this plan your design and keep in mind you have to be the best in all aspects to make it to the top.
In other words is it easy for the user to navigate through the website? A layout that is easy to navigate through will give the content in your website more exposure. Search engines on their part respect and give priority to websites that are easy to navigate. This is especially because the search engine crawlers find it easy to crawl a well navigated website. Therefore, before the design is finalized it is very important that the navigation steps are finalized. And as a small test before launch it is advisable to run a few simple checks/tests by asking a small sample of your target segment/demographic to run through your website and to provide feedback.
5. Images and Colours
Sri Lankan websites are quite famous for tons and tons of text with just an odd picture in the page. But, it is boring, this is not an educational book, you should add pictures that are relevant wherever you can incorporate them, and these pictures should be related to your business. Please do keep in mind that an image speaks more than a text, therefore, it is only in the best interest of your business that you include the pictures of your products, service offering, service centres, so that the customers can get an idea about your offerings easily. When selecting the colours, there is no right or wrong, but choose colours that are soothing to the viewer’s eyes and are related to your brand.
6.Design should be appealing
As mentioned earlier the site should look beautiful and engaging, but, the key is to confirm whether the target audience finds it interesting and appealing. For example, if you website target audience are people in their 40s, you cannot rely on the designers who are in their 20s, you should ask for feedback from the target audience.
Gone are the days where websites were designed to work only on Internet Explorer. These days people use a number of browsers, and devices to access the internet. Therefore, accessibility should not be a problem at all. Your site needs to be usable on any of the platforms that people are likely to access it from. At the same time a simple device (non-smart phone) may not display all the features in the website but, it should still display the important contents (we call this “graceful degradation”).
8. Website content
Visitors to your website come with the fundamental aim of viewing your content. Therefore, having a generic description will be the last thing they want. The content in the website plays a vital role in the conversion of prospects and also greatly influences the search engine rankings.
9. Encourage people to come back
No website is designed with the aim of having people visit it only once. People visit numerous websites a day, and you must hit the right chord in order to make them visit your site regularly. Examples of Sri Lankan websites that have done well in garnering people’s interest through repeat visits are; yamu.lk, ikman.lk, dailymirror.lk. Regularly update the website with latest contents so that the visitor finds something new every time he/she comes in.
10. Make us of the analytics
Internet is full of great tools to track visitors to your website and what they do. This is gold for the website owner, because this gives the owners feedback on what they have done right, and what they have to improve on.
These ten factors are what we find critical for the success of Sri Lankan website. It is always best to get your website right the first time and taking these factors into consideration will definitely help you with it.
Article Courtesy – karthik Balachandran