Many businesses and organizations make the same assumption with their websites believing that if they get their site in front of enough traffic, they will convert visits into viable income. However, there’s an art and a science to creating effective websites.
Whether someone visiting your site reads information, views a video, or downloads a white paper, they’re a potential prospect. The key is to get them to come back to your site frequently and convert them into a customer. If your website is struggling to convert, take an honest look at it. See how you would answer these six questions to determine if you have a winning website.
1. What purpose do your customers want the site to serve?
Customers visit sites for a variety of reasons. Are they coming to yours to learn more about your business? Do they want to be able to access certain industry information? Do they want to make a purchase? You don’t always need a one-site-does-all solution. You may have your branding site as the primary source of information about your business while linking to landing pages or micro sites to handle other specific functions for satisfying your customers’ needs. Knowing why people are visiting your site will alter the choices you make for the written content, visual design elements and composition.
2. What proof do you provide about your claims?
If Michael Phelps were to boast that he’s the best swimmer of all time, he has a chest full of 22 gold and silver Olympic medals to prove it. If you declare that you’re the best at servicing a particular niche or that your product is far superior to the competition, you need credibility on your site to back up your claims. Have you won awards? Do you have testimonials and/or case studies? Do you have results from independent organizations when testing your products alongside the competitions’?
3. Do you have more than one type of ideal customer and does your site effectively speak to each group?
There were 36 sports represented at the Summer Olympics. The marketing for getting tourists and locals to attend say gymnastics was different than beach volleyball. The same holds true for your business. It isn’t uncommon for you to have multiple target audiences. For example, if you manage a nonprofit for children with autism, you likely have different types of visitors that you want attract to your site and engage, from the parents of children on the autism spectrum, to donors, and possibly even medical professionals. If this is the case, does your website design include imagery, copy, and calls to action for each of these specific groups? Each segment has specific interests and desires. You can’t create one effective marketing message that will speak to each of these.
4. Is your site easy to navigate and understand?
The average website has less time than it takes Usain Bolt to run the 100 meter dash to capture the attention of new visitors. Effective websites have copy that speak predominately in “you” and “your” terms instead of “we”, “I” or “us” and they drop as much of the industry lingo as possible (unless that’s what attracts your ideal customers). People don’t buy what they don’t understand. Second, sites that are hard to navigate because of look, layout, and functionality increase their “bounce” rate. A “bounce” is when people show up and quickly “bounce” back to wherever they came from prior to your site instead of clicking through to other pages. Your website design should make it easy for visitors to find the information or solution they’re looking for in just a couple of clicks.
5. How easy is it for your visitors to contact you?
Does your site have one method for people to connect with you on a plain Contact Us page or do you include multiple methods, from phone, to email, to fax, an easy to use form that are posted on several places on your site and links to your social media profiles? If your site’s visitors want to get a hold of you, make it easy for them. Accessibility often improves the perception of credibility and increases your likability, which is critical for converting visitors into customers.
6. Do you know how to design your site for human visitors and search engine spiders?
If trying to win over customers wasn’t challenging enough, in today’s Web 2.0 world, your site needs to compete on multiple fronts. What gets your site noticed and ranked by the search engines versus that which attracts your ideal customers and gets them to take action isn’t always the same thing. An effective website design requires a team effort between a SEO specialist, professional copywriter, graphic designer, and a web developer.
Dina Wasmer is President of Incite Creative, a marketing and graphic design firm that provides offline and online brand-building services and strategies for small-to-middle-market businesses and non-profit organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region. Additionally, Dina is an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore teaching typography and graphic design principles. For more information, log onto www.incitecreativeinc.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org