As a business owner, you may have already created your business website by hiring a designer, using a website builder or creating a simple WordPress website. Now that you have a professional site that represents your company, how can you get more customers to walk in, sign up, call you, fill out a form or buy your products? ChooseWhat.com’s co-founder, Leo Welder, has six years of experience improving website performance. Read his simple tips on how to improve the effectiveness of your website.
Clearly Define Your Purpose and Goals
Before you can improve the effectiveness of your site, you need to define its purpose. Specifically, what are your goals for the website? Do you want it to:
- Present information about your company?
- Generate business?
- Through ecommerce (i.e. selling products/services on your site)?
- Through lead forms (i.e. having users fill out a form to get more information)?
- Through phone calls to your company?
- Through subscriptions to your service or your monthly newsletter?
Although the questions above seem obvious, it is very important to commit them to writing. When determining ways to make your site more effective, you will use these answers as guideposts. When making a decision about your site, always ask yourself “Will doing this help me achieve the goals of my website.” If the answer is “no,” it’s likely a waste of time.
1) Recreate the User Experience
Remember that people are looking for answers when they get to your website. If at any point they get confused or frustrated, they will abandon your site, rendering it ineffective. To avoid losing customers, try to recreate the experience of a person (or persons) arriving at your website.
Pretend you’re searching online. You can start by searching for your site’s target keywords on the top search engines to see if your site comes up for the right keywords. When you do find your site, look to see which page comes up on that particular search (often times it’s not the home page) and ask yourself if you were the one searching, what you would do if you visited that page. If it is not one of your stated goals, then you’ve found an opportunity for improvement.
Click links. You should not only click all of the links on your site to see if they navigate to the correct pages and information, but also click the links on your email newsletters, social media sites and other blogs or sites that link to yours. Again, check to see that the content on your entry pages (an “entry page” is the first page that a person sees when they arrive at your site- often this is not the home page) is relevant to the links clicked.
Pay attention to your messaging on other marketing materials or advertising. Again, make sure that your ad is sending customers to the right place. Leo asks, “Is the discount that people heard about on the radio easily visible when they get to your website, or do they have to dig for it?”
Identify calls to action. Is the path to the action that you desire from the user (e.g. filling out a lead form, calling you, buying a product) clear? If any page of your site is lacking a clear call to action, you will lose customers.
2) Eliminate Jargon
Most business owners don’t realize how harmful jargon can be. Most of your customers probably don’t have the background in your industry that you do and will be put off by industry-specific jargon. If they don’t understand what you’re selling, they won’t buy. So, eliminate the jargon, and if you must use it, make sure to define it in simple terms that anyone can understand.
Hire a good copywriter to create clear, compelling copy for your site, or pick up The Yahoo Style Guide, which has useful tips on improving copy.
3) Simplify Choices
Don’t give your users too many choices on your website. When you do give them choices, make them easy ones. The person on your site is there to get answers from you, the expert. Give them the information they’re looking for up front, without any hassle, and they’ll be more likely to act. It may be helpful to create user profiles using demographic information you’ve collected about your customers, so that you can tailor your site content to specific user types.
4) Use Tracking
Tracking services can help you view how people are currently using your site. Most of these services will let you see how your visitors are arriving (e.g. through search, direct, email, etc.) Some popular tracking services that we’ve used here at ChooseWhat are
Google Analytics: A free tracking service that lets you view visitors, entry pages, links clicked, average time on site, etc.
Hitslink: A paid tracking service that shows you more detailed information than Google Analytics, but is less user friendly.
ClickTale: Lets you watch videos of visitors interacting with your site, view Mouse Move Heatmaps, see Form Analytics, etc.
5) Find a Good Hosting Service
Make sure you have a good hosting service. If you regularly visit your own site and find the slow load time frustrating, then your customers are probably frustrated as well. Slow page loads and issues with your site being down will cause users to abandon your site quickly. There are many hosting services on the market, and it’s up to you to choose one. But remember that free hosting services will never work as well as hosting you pay for.
6) Test Your Site in Different Browsers
Most Internet users use IE to view websites. If you use Firefox or Safari, you should also regularly view your site in Internet Explorer to make sure your site looks and functions correctly on all browsers. Conversely, if you use IE, regularly check your site on Firefox (and Safari if possible). Roughly 30% – 40% of our visitors use Firefox, which is a significant percentage.
Check out this list of tools for testing Cross-Browser Compatibility.
Using Leo’s tips, you’ll have an effective business website in no time and be ahead of everyone else in the online game.