A study published in 2011 found that 70% of people would not buy from a company with a poorly designed website. And that was before the mobile revolution. Today, most people are accessing the Internet from mobile devices, and 57% of them would not recommend a business after a disappointing mobile experience; 52% said that they would likely make their purchase from another company.
So what makes an experience “poor?”
Have you ever walked into a room that made you feel on edge? Even if we can’t immediately put our finger on the problem, most of us have felt uneasy or uncomfortable when walking into certain rooms. Maybe it was the clutter on every flat surface … or the color scheme that clashed … or too much furniture that felt claustrophobic instead of cozy … or the “cold” stark feeling of a sparsely furnished room.
While not everyone has the same sense of style, most of us know when something just feels “off.”
Today, there are a lot of do-it-yourself opportunities to build your own website. They make it sound so easy. The reality is that there are a lot of “moving parts” to a website and if you get it wrong, your audience will punish you for it.
Outdated technology, confusing navigation and poor content are some of the reasons websites fail, but there are many more.
Is Your website Dead?
Has your website remained the same for years? If a past customer re-visits your site, will they think you have gone out of business? Nothing turns off visitors faster than an outdated website that never changes. Technology changes fast and people expect a flourishing company to keep up. Websites must be mobile friendly, of course, but they should also be updated with new information and images and maybe a new “look.” Keep your website fresh, relevant and exciting.
While you should be updating your website often, including adding pages and a blog to keep customers AND Google interested, there are a few basic questions that must be asked even before a website is published. If you have a website and it doesn’t answer these questions, it might be time for a do-over.
- Who are you? I can’t tell you how often I have seen a website that doesn’t really tell me anything about the company or the people behind it. The information is so generic that it could be from anyone or so confusing I’m not sure what they do. Your website is no place for business jargon and generalities that don’t let people know who you are and exactly what you are offering.
- What’s the plan? No matter how beautiful and easy to navigate a website is, you must make a decision about how to integrate your website into your overall marketing plan. Branding the website to match other marketing materials is important, but so is a consistent marketing message.
- Will people find you online? Most people start their search for a product online. It is important to be found on a Google search, but Google’s algorithms change often, and isn’t easy keeping up with those changes. If you are a local company, make sure you are on Google Maps. Verify your site with Google. Make sure to use the keywords that people are looking for. Register with directories that make sense. Add links to your website from your email. Cross post to Social sites. Ask for Facebook “likes” on your website and add your web address to all social sites.
- Will people find you off line? I am always amazed when I develop a website for a client, and then see brochures, business cards, and other marketing materials without the web address. If you want people to see your website, never miss an opportunity in the real world to tell them where to find it.
- Who is the Website for? If you are only focusing on what a great company you have, you are missing the point. Focus on what your customers are looking for. Most searches today are framed as questions. Google’s new algorithms favor websites that provide answers to questions. Siri and other voice activated search assistants are designed to answer questions. Make sure your website has the answers to the right questions.
- What is Your Call-to-Action? Once people have made their way to your website, don’t let them get away without a fight. Capture their email addresses. Ask them to give you a review, like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, sign up for a newsletter or even make a suggestion. While the ultimate goal may be a sale, your website may only be the first step on a longer customer journey. Always try to open the door to further communication.