Your website is your “storefront.” You should put as much into your virtual storefront as you would to the front window display at a traditional store on Main Street. Your website needs to attract customers and keep them coming back for more.
Pull up your website. Pretend you are a new prospect and ask yourself the following questions. Or better yet, find someone who has never seen your site before and ask them to answer these questions:
1. Where do your eyes go first?
A visitor to your website typically has an attention span of only a few seconds. That means your website must “hook” them in that amount of time. Make sure the first thing they see/notice is something interesting enough to buy you more time.
2. Do you know right away what this website is about?
Again, you have limited time to get your message across. If there are too many distractions, a site visitor may not ever know what you are selling.
3. Is the important information “above the fold?”
Most site visitors want to know the details without doing a lot of work. If they have to scroll down to find the main idea, they will likely leave earlier than you’d like. Make sure that your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is clearly spelled out. This is a piece of information that says in one sentence or less why someone should do business with you. Make it clear and prominent on your site.
4. Can you easily find the benefits of the product/service?
A visitor to your site wants to learn as much as possible about the benefits of your product or service. Features are important, too, but the most important thing a visitor can take away is a sense that this product or service will make an impact in their life…for the better.
5. Is there a clear call to action?
If customers like what they see, it is important to move them along quickly. There should be a prominent, clear call to action on your website. Your call to action may be to buy now, start a free trial, learn more or something else. Make sure that you are not sending mixed messages with too many calls to action. Choose the one or two that matter most and make them easy to find.
6. Are the colors and images aesthetically pleasing?
If your website is too busy or jarring, you will lose visitors. Take a little time to coordinate colors and to implement high quality images that add to your message.
7. Is the font easy to read?
Make sure your font is easy to read and is not distracting. Don’t get fancy; just stick with a simple, sans-serif font in a contrasting color to the background.
8. Are there bulky sections of writing anywhere on the page?
Long, bulky paragraphs are likely to get skipped. Try breaking up your copy into smaller sections that get the point across quickly.
9. Do the menu items clearly tell you where they will take you?
Site design and usability are important considerations that often get overlooked. Think about what information you would want to find if you visited this site, and plan your menus accordingly. There should almost always be an “about us” and “contact us” page.
10. Is there an easy way to contact the business?
If your website does its job, you will likely have interested prospects who want to learn more or simply have a few questions. Make sure they have an easy way to find you. Potential customers also want to know that they will be able to get a hold of you if needed in the future, whether for warranty service or support.
11. Can you find out more about the owner or employees of the company?
Visitors often want to know that they are dealing with real people. Having an “about us” page is a great way to show the world why you are the best one to handle the job. Include photos, too – everyone likes to associate a face to the business.
12. Do you feel personally connected?
Visitors who feel personally connected will be more likely to stick around and/or become a customer. Tell your story, and tell them why you are the right choice. You can personally connect with your visitors by being honest, using a conversational writing style and including real testimonials from other customers.
13. Is the writing corporate or conversational?
Corporate writing is good for…well, big corporations. But a small business shouldn’t pretend to be a big, formal entity that is disconnected from the public. Your ability to relate to your customers is a big reason why they will eventually choose you – start right away with engaging, conversational tone in your writing.
14. Is there a web form above the fold?
A web form is really the only way to capture leads from your website visitors. Make sure that it is in a visible place above the fold. The better it looks, the more people will fill it out.
15. Is the offering appealing enough to make you want to give your email address?
Your web form should also offer an incentive piece to spark a visitor’s interest and convince them to give you their information. Make sure that this incentive piece is appealing – offer real tips, actionable advice or special deals that will immediately help your prospects.
16. Is there multimedia?
Multimedia is a great way to add character and interest to your website. Videos, podcasts, tutorials and other multimedia options allow you to present your message to your visitors in a way that appeals to them.
17. Are there links to social media?
Social media allows you to communicate with your prospects, and it allows them to communicate with each other. Include links to your blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. Make it easy for everyone to find you on social media…even if they don’t fill out your web form, they may choose to follow you in some fashion.
The next step
Once you determine the areas of your website that need improvement, develop a plan to start implementing changes. You don’t have to do them all at once– do a few at a time until you have a website that you can be proud of (and one that consistently brings in sales).