But remember, not that long ago, many businesses were wondering whether or not they even needed a website.
It seemed so far-fetched that any of their customers would ever do anything but show up at their store or pick up the phone to place an order.
How quickly times change. Now, a business isn’t considered legitimate until they have a web presence. No matter what it is you sell, odds are your prospects are going to visit your website to decide if you’re even in the running.
I’m hard pressed to think of an industry or business category that doesn’t rely on their website as the main workhorse in their marketing arsenal.
It used to be that you had an opportunity to make the sale when someone walked into your retail location, your salesperson called on the buyer or you answered your phone. But today, a good portion of the sales process has nothing to do with you actively engaging with the potential buyer. They’re doing a great deal of their due diligence tire kicking without you being in the room at all.
It’s happening on your website, within social networks and with the help of a Google search.
Which makes what you put out on the web absolutely vital to your business’ success. You must build a website your users will love.
All of that being said – most websites stink. They’re badly designed, built for the business’ ego rather than the customer’s utility and they’re out of date.
Why? I think most businesses think of their website like an ever expanding junk drawer. They just keep tossing more stuff in there and hope that when someone rummages through it – they can find what they need.
If you’d like your website to be the effective workhorse you need it to be, consider these best practices:
It should be an experience: Keep in mind that many people will decide whether or not to do business with you based on their web visit. So you want them to have a memorable and enjoyable experience. Get them interacting with you – give them a quiz, help them find answers to their specific questions or offer them something they might want to share with others.
- Let your company’s personality be a part of the site — both in design and voice
- Simple navigation matters – make it intuitive
- Remember eye flow – give them plenty of white space and eye rest
Don’t talk about yourself: Talk about their world and how you can improve it. Everything should be presented from their perspective, not yours. You might need an outside perspective to help you identify what truly matters to your audience.
- Don’t over share – think hors’ oeuvres, not a six course meal
- Start at the 101 level — not every visitor will already be an expert
- Leave them wanting more so they call or send an email
- Keep the content fresh – stale content does not sell
- Cascade your content – start with a little and then let them choose to drill down for more if they want it
Make it easy, no matter the device: Don’t assume everyone is using a 15-inch screen. Within the next couple years, the majority of web searches will be conducted on a mobile phone. Check your site on desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones because if there’s one thing your users will love is being able to access your content no matter where they are.
- Pay attention to page placement — your most important content should be above the fold
- Give them more than one way to navigate
- Use landing pages to help diverse audiences get where they want to go
Don’t let a mediocre website discourage prospects from becoming customers before they even shake your hand. If you haven’t already done it — start tomorrow. Build a website your users will love and share and best of all — buy from.