How to Make Your Website Work for You
I’ve said this hundreds of times, and I will continue to say it because I am still so shocked at how many businesses seem to not get it: Your website should be your #1 employee, the shining star of your company who can answer nearly every question your customers might have, or at least be able to guide them in the right direction.
Think about it: You could have an employee who can help customers find the information they’re looking for, always dresses on point, only has an occasional bad day, and works their butt off 24/7 – no overtime pay! In my opinion, spending the time to create a knockout website to represent your brand should be every business’s main priority.
But in order to make your website work for you, it needs to not only look the part with great design, but also act the part with these key factors:
If you think the website is about your company, then you’re wrong. Your website is about your customers because, ultimately, they are the ones making the purchasing decisions.
When you’re creating the content for your website, you need to get inside the customer’s head. It’s really easy to talk about your company, the services you provide, and why it’s awesome; but most likely your customers haven’t arrived to that same conclusion yet. They need to be convinced.
If you haven’t already, it’s important to create buyer personas for your company. Once you have those, the rest of the work will be easier because you now have a clear understanding of who you’re going to be marketing your website to. Keep them close by and refer back at every step of the content creation process to ensure that your website is aligning with your customers and where they are at in the buyer’s journey.
A website is truly worth nothing without good user experience. In the simplest form, providing your costumers with good user experience means that they shouldn’t have to think when they arrive on your website. They should be able to find the information their looking for right away, rather than stumble from page to page searching for answers.
One of the biggest lessons every good designer has to eventually learn and accept is that the rest of the world will inevitably use the internet differently than we do. Meaning, while we critique every website we see endlessly for their odd color choices, typefaces, and functionality, there is probably a reason for why it looks that way.
Sure, a white button may look more aesthetically pleasing, but an orange button might actually drive more conversions. A full-width slider on the homepage might highlight the photography better, but if it drastically slows down the website, then it needs to go.
The same lesson needs to accepted by business owners. You may have great ideas, but some of them could cost you. For more information on providing good user experience, check out 7 Simple User Experience Rules to Follow.
Although this is a part of good user experience, I think it’s worth noting the importance of having intuitive functionality. The user shouldn’t have to be confused; if something looks like a button, it should be a button. If users are used to seeing an “X” in the top right corner of a pop-up to close it, then you should use an “X” rather than make up your own icon.
If i’m being honest, I have always really hated contact forms. In the past, if I needed to contact a company I would avoid filling out the form at all costs, and search the web for other ways to contact them. Why? Because it’s such an impersonal feeling to submit a form through the web. Who is it even going to? What if I’m trying to contact the owner? How will I know if they get it? Should I address it to whom I would like to speak to, or write a general statement?
Seriously…what happened to just writing an email to a known address?
But, aside from my hatred of them, I have to admit that I understand their purpose. User’s may have questions, and they might not feel comfortable picking up the phone to call you. In addition, businesses owners might not want their email to be public, so a form works best for them.
Plus, contact forms can be inviting. You can style them however you’d like or write a funny copy. They are also great for those who would rather just type their message into the screen they’re on rather than going through the (grueling) task of opening a new tab and logging into their email.
From a marketing perspective, contact forms can be the most important part of a website because they capture information. A new customer on your website might submit the form with a question about your product. They aren’t ready to buy, but they are interested. By getting them to submit the form, you now have their name and email (and possibly more depending on the required information you asked them to input on the form).
At this point, that user is in your system as a lead. If you’ve responded to their question and notice that they still haven’t made the purchase after a couple weeks, you can send them a follow-up email – possibly a newsletter, a personal reach-out, or even by giving them a promo code for the product.
In the end, a contact form can be as useful as you make it, and it’s worth using them to your advantage. Just take the time to make it look good, and include a brief statement such as “Thanks for reaching out. Mandy, our Sales Team Executive, will respond within 48 hours.”
Not every website will need a Q&A section. However, if you notice your customers are constantly asking you questions that the main content of your website isn’t answering, then it’s important to include the page. Not only will you then have a handy page to refer your customers to, but taking the time to answer the questions in writing may actually help to spark new clarity on other existing questions or issues.
A picture is worth a thousand words. In marketing, this couldn’t be more true. According to Hubspot, “When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.”
In other words, if you want your content to be memorable, then add an image (or even a video) that helps bring your point across.
If you’re selling a product online, then you need to be descriptive. This can be through text or images. It’s always amazing when I see a company list their products without really giving away all the information. If you’re selling clothes, you need to allow the users to zoom in on your product photo, and show it from every angle.
By leaving out basic information, you appear untrustworthy. Why are you not showing what the coat looks like from the behind? Is it because has an unflattering pattern or text on the back? If you’re users don’t know, they won’t buy.
You can’t make your website work for you if no one sees it. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. Learn it. Understand it. Live it.
Once you have these tips implemented, it’s time to sit back and let your website do its magic. At least until it’s time for updates.