I’m sure you have heard the old adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This saying is particularly true in the world of websites, where you may only have a few precious seconds to engage a new visitor.

It’s important that your website looks good, but it’s even more important that it’s easy for your visitors to find the information they are seeking. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they will be gone in less time than it took them to find you. If you can’t keep them on your website, you will not be able to convert them into a lead.

The graphic on the right (courtesy Hubspot) clearly illustrates the importance of function over form. According to the graphic, 76% of users surveyed said that “it’s easy to find what I want” is the most important factor of a website’s design, while a mere 10% considered “a beautiful appearance” as the most important factor. Bottom line… you’re site might be an award-winning, artistic masterpiece, but if your visitors are confused about where to click to learn more about your company or its services, your artistic efforts were likely in vain.

Here are a few tips to keep your website from driving away the precious traffic it has worked so hard to earn:

Keep It Simple
Create a clean, simple site that has easy to use navigation and clearly identifiable links. Stay away from script fonts and flashy animated graphics. Use images sparingly.

Limit Choices
Less is more. Don’t give visitors too many choices on your homepage. For example, if you have 20 different products or services you offer, combine them into a 4 main categories so visitors aren’t overwhelmed.

Walk In Their Shoes
Remember that it’s not about you, it’s about them. Websites (and all marketing materials for that matter) should address your prospects most important question… “what’s in it for me?”. Look at your site from your visitors perspective, give them what they want. If you’re not sure what that is, ask.

Be A Resource
The days of brochure websites are coming to an end. Your website needs to be a resource that educates and entertains your customers and prospects. By providing the valuable content your visitors are searching for, you build credibility and establish your expertise. Would you rather hire a company that tells you they’re experts or one that shows you why they’re experts?

Highlight Your Blog
Blog is not a four letter word (well technically it is, but you know what I mean). In fact, a blog could be the most important single element of your site in terms of attracting more visitors and converting more leads. Highlight your blog and list recent articles on your homepage. Without a blog that offers your visitors relevant NEW content on a regular basis, there’s not much of a reason to come back.

Link To Social Media Profiles
This one is easy. Social media has inundated the very fabric of communication on the internet. If your business is not on the bandwagon yet, GET ON IT. Many of your visitors will be looking to continue the conversation with your company on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Make it easy for them to do so by including clearly visible links to your presence on these sites.

Contact Info On Every Page
If you have ever visited a website and not been able to find a company’s phone number, this one will seem like a no-brainer. Include your phone number, address and an email link on every page of your site. The header or footer are usually ideal places for this critical info.

I know you want your site to look pretty, and it should… just make sure it’s appearance is built on a solid foundation that keeps the above tips in mind. Your visitors first impressions should be about how easy it is to find what they are looking for and how valuable the content they found was. They can be in awe of your inspired design when they come back the second time… to find more of that great content.

Check out our free ebook for more tips on how to transform your website into a powerful tool for growing your business.

Did I miss anything? What are some of the things you think are most important when you visit a website?

This post is an excerpt from our free 4-part ebook, How to Transform Your Website into a Powerful Tool for Growing Your Business.

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