We’re going to get our grumpy hat on. Obviously your website is your baby. Often you’ve worked hard to get it exactly the way you think it should be and this process can understandably have you emotionally (and often financially) attached to it. But as my mentor used to say, sometimes what a business really needs is someone to tell them that their baby is ugly.
Any web and/or marketing professional worth their salt shouldn’t be scared to offend you if it’s necessary because the simple fact of the matter is that a bad website is bad business. If they’re trying to help you, they need to be straight with you and you need to brace yourself for a few hard truths if you’re serious about your online presence.
From likelihood of conversion (how much of your traffic turns into a lead or sale), to organic rankings and good old fashioned trust and branding, there are a variety of reasons that you need to be ready to accept reality if you truly want success.
Let’s take a look at 3 quick tips…
1. It’s 2015. Your website should act like it. Sad as it is, there are still many websites out there that are straight out of 1996. Remember stuff like this?
Obviously that website was built as a worst case scenario, however you can be far from that bad and still be behind the times. And that’s without even taking mobile friendliness into account. Mobile device usage has skyrocketed over the past 5 years and will only continue to do so until it completely overtakes desktop devices.
Then there are the simple things like navigation, layout, use of imagery and contact methods.
For instance, once your eyes stop hurting, this website doesn’t grossly violate anything in terms of structural integrity, but the fact of the matter is their website makes them look like amateurs. This website (although still not exactly our favourite, this industry appears to be lacking in innovation online) would outsell it by a massive ratio if the two were placed side by side simply because it looks somewhat more modern. The navigation feels and flows more naturally and there are multiple entry points and calls to action which are clearly identifiable due to a smooth feel. Don't let your website be this guy...
2. Trust is everything. Out of the previous two examples, which would you trust as a more legitimate business? The one that seems like a smooth operation with a bit of money, which most would assume is due to business being good? Or the one which looks like it was thrown together for $100?
Businesses who cheap on their websites are seen as being cheap. Because they probably are. Businesses who invest the proper time and care in their websites are usually assumed to be the kind of businesses who would invest the same amount of time and care in their customers.
So the difference in conversion between a site that looks like a garage sale flyer and one that immediately answers questions and poses solutions while offering a positive user experience is naturally high.
Side note: It’s also always good to include any certifications or reassuring documentation onsite as well as testimonials or impressive stats!
3. NEVER guess! If you’re designing or redesigning your website or even just making a few small changes, don’t make those changes based on what you think your customers want no matter how much of an expert you think you are. Base it on the mountains of readily available data regarding online behaviour and trends. Of course you’ll include your own market research and customer data, but in the online realm you rarely ever need to guess, so why would you?
Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Heat-map technology, even just trawling the web for the latest online behavioural and conversion data. It’s all at your fingertips, so use it.
The information you need is out there to make an informed decision. If you refuse to make an informed decision then you are setting yourself up for failure. Plain and simple.