Is Your Website Costing You Customers?
Your website represents you and your amazing business. It should clearly communicate your vision to your fellow humans. If it's not, you need to change it. You can focus on SEO all day, but driving traffic to an unprofessional looking website is counterproductive.
I totally understand the sense of pride and accomplishment when someone beams, "I designed my own site with WIX!" or "Check out my new Weebly site." My thought is usually, "Wow, if you think that looks good, I have to question your judgement as a business owner." You may save a few bucks in the short-term, but you'll be losing potential business in the long run.
If you're in business and serious about it, you need the best possible representation of your product or service. A tacky website, free or not, gives the impression that you don't hold your business in high regard.
I'm not saying run out and spend $5,000 for a new website, but getting professional, objective input is always good. On the other hand, I know that many folks have paid good money for a website and hate the finished product. You could be one of those people.
If you're not getting the results you expected, you might be wondering, "What can I do?" "How can I make it better without spending more money?"
There are some basic things I look at when someone asks me for website advice. Take a look below and see how your site holds up.
The Questions You Should Be Asking:
Do I immediately know what website is about? Does it instill trust? Do I feel excited, calm, curious, irritated, or confused? There's always a subconscious feeling that visitors get. Sometimes, they can't put their finger on specifics, but that initial emotional reaction will determine whether they stay or go.
A good page is balanced. It clearly lets visitors know what the business is offering. It's ok to be artsy or creative, if that's your style. But, don't get so creative that your core message is lost in the process. And whether it's explosive art or minimalist high tech, always have clear navigation that guides visitors and encourages them to explore.
You will instantly lose credibility. Double-check everything. This one should be a no-brainer, but recently, I visited a site with a large blog title using "Guilty Conscious" instead of "Guilty Conscience." I actually emailed to let them know about the error, but never went back to see if they corrected it.
When someone visits your site, they should be able to quickly grasp who you are, what you do, and how you can meet their needs. Are your words compelling or are you using canned, generic stuff you copied from a competitor's website? Tell your unique story and connect emotionally.
Images should add to your story, not distract from it. It's all about balance. Low resolution images have no place on a business website in 2017. If you have a favorite, must-use photo with low resolution, keep it at thumbnail size. If your gallery has random-sized images, use a masonry layout. Keep it clean.
You may be passionate about your product, but no one wants to read your essay. Get to the point and keep the visual stimulation to a minimum. Sometimes a full-screen image and a few words will do the job. Other times, it's best to go with a two-column layout focused on engaging copy with two or three relevant images.
Let's face it, even some of the best developers have no sense of style and no idea what looks good. Take the time to choose the right colors. They should match your logo and be consistent throughout the site. Fonts should be consistent, too. Text size and color variations are good, but stick to the same or complementary fonts.
Remember the three-click rule. Make sure your visitors can find the information they're looking for within three clicks. Clearly state your services on your home page. Vague information is a turn-off. You don't want them leaving without ever finding out what you actually do.
If I come to your website week after week and still see "coming soon" on your pages, I'll eventually stop visiting. It's like people walking past your store daily and the sign always says "opening soon." The curiosity will quickly morph into a negative expectation. You don't want folks having negative expectations before they even get to know you!
We've come a long way on the interwebs in the past 20 years. From the sparse HTML pages of the 90's to the incredibly interactive PHP-driven sites we have today. With the technology available now, there's no excuse for a crappy website. If your design skills are iffy, hire a pro. Believe in your vision and find the best way to communicate it!