This might seem like a bit of an odd blog post for a web design company to be publishing, but we think it’s important to be clear and transparent. After all, there are a lot of simple improvements you can make to your website without having to hire a specialist web design company to do them for you. Here are our top 6:
1. Adding information
Your homepage needs to serve a function. It’s not simply the hub from which all other pages link, as the web has evolved and every page on your website is effectively a landing page.
Your homepage needs to respond to basic questions that people visiting the site will have. These are usually wanting to know what services you offer, what you charge and how you can help them. Don’t go selling your company (and definitely avoided the dreaded ‘Here at Company X, we…’ line). Speak to your customer, not from your company.
The five things you need to answer on your homepage are: Who are you? What do you do? What value can you offer potential customers? What makes you different? What should they do next?
2. No obvious forward movement
There needs to be a call to action on every page. Where do you want users to go once they’ve finished on that page? If you don’t tell them, they’ll tell you: they’ll go to another site. And probably a competitor’s site at that. Give them a big button that allows them to get in touch. Throw them your phone number. Give them a contact form. Anything to get them to move on to the next step. People won’t use your menus or automatically want to stick on your website — they’ll be off if you don’t give them a logical, real reason to stay.
The best way to handle this is to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What is the logical next step they’d want to take after viewing this content? If you’re the sort of person who answers ‘They’d want to find out about how our company was formed’ or ‘They’d want to see pictures of our directors and the industry accreditations they have’, firstly give yourself a slap round the face and secondly get someone else — who doesn’t work for your company – to put themselves in the shoes of a website visitor and answer the question.
3. A sign-up box or form with no introduction
Having a sign-up box or contact form in order to harvest email addresses is a fantastic marketing opportunity which you should definitely take advantage of. However, simply having a ‘sign up here’ market with a box and a submit button just won’t cut it.
Why should someone enter their email address? Would you do it with a strange company you’d never heard of? Who wants to sign up to a ‘company newsletter’? Answer: No-one. Give them something. Give them a reason to enter their email address. Will they get exclusive discounts? Free stuff? A call from a salesperson? Let them know!
4. Keep your content up to date
The importance of this really can’t be understated. If your website footer says ‘Copyright 2009’ or your latest news article is from 2013, how do customers know you’re still in business? We can tell you one thing: they sure as hell won’t phone you up to find out. They’ll go off to a competitor who they know’s still in business because they can see it from their website.
The bottom line is that if you don’t put the care and attention into something as simple as keeping your website up to date, the subconscious reading that potential customers get is that you won’t put the care and attention into your products or services either.
5. Don’t overwhelm them with content
What you don’t want is a plethora of buttons and menu choices all over the site. Keep it simple, give users a path through your website to find out the information they require and then get in touch with you. Anything else is extraneous, wastes your time writing or creating it and will likely put potential customers off.
If you keep things basic and simple, you’ll be rewarded by customers who haven’t had to spend hours trawling through a website. After all, the average time users spend on any given website is seconds. Surprised? Make sure you allow them to use those seconds wisely, then.
6. Confusing navigation
Do your website visitors really need to know the biographies of your directors? Nope, so get rid of that page. Do they want to see a testimonials page? Probably not, unless they’re time-travelling from 2003. Get rid of it. Do you need separate pages for Locations, Opening Times and Contact Us? No, they all belong on the same page.
Slim down your menu and navigation by getting rid of extraneous pages and merging them into clear, obvious sections where possible. If one of your menu items could quite legitimately go under another existing menu heading, put it there. People are quite happy to scroll these days. What they’re not happy to do is keep clicking from page to page.
Are you starting to spot some themes? As with most web design practices, it’s about keeping it simple and straightforward for the end user. People don’t want a laborious, confusing online experience. They are going online to look for products or services because they want it to be simple, straightforward and effective. Don’t make them go elsewhere.
Keep your content simple, customer-focused and streamlined. Never work from the inside out – always from the outside in. Work from what your customer wants to find out, not from what you want to tell your customer. The likelihood is there won’t be much crossover between the two and your customer will never feel connected to your company. And after all, that’s not a great business move.