What’s Wrong With My Website?

I talk to a lot of people who are puzzled by the lack of success of their website. After spending some time looking at the site in question I can usually spot a number of reasons for that lack of success.

If you have website that is not performing as it should it’s time to step back and take an objective look at it. It’s time to look at it through your prospects eyes, not your own. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Can I quickly work out what this website is about. Is it clear?
  • Are the colors and text easy on the eye? Is it easy to read?
  • Does the site look professional? Could I trust doing business with this company?
  • Is it easy to navigate? Is it easy to find what I am looking for?
  • Does the design match the message?
  • How can I contact this business?

You might also want to spend some time filling out your own forms. Is it easy? Are you comfortable with the amount of information they ask for? Once you’ve submitted the form is there a confirmation page?

Often looking at a website with a clear objective mind helps you spot those little things that can be overlooked. By spotting them now and rectifying them you should see an increase in conversions and sales.

Finally, remember my golden rule: design with your prospects in mind not yourself. You need to appeal to them if you want any chance of success.

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A Succesful Website Starts With the Strategy

It’s pretty obvious that any good house starts with a solid foundation. The same applies to a website. In order to ensure a successful website that achieves your goals you need to start with a solid foundation. You need to develop a sound website strategy that outlines your goals, target audience, market position, competitors and marketing efforts. This strategy, or blueprint, will help you and your web designer develop a website that will achieve you online goals.

Put it this way if you don’t know why you want a website, apart from because everyone else has one, how will you be able to measure your success? Quite simply you can’t.

So how do you develop your strategy? To get you started consider the following:

What Are Your Online Goals?

What are the goals of your website? What do you want to achieve?

  • Sell products online?
  • Build sales leads?
  • Reduce support costs?
  • Inform people?
  • Attract newsletter sign-ups?
  • Attract advertising revenue?
  • Brand yourself or your company?
  • To reduce time providing telephone support?

Once you’ve defined your goals you can set about working out how to achieve them and how to measure the results.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Who is your website targeted to? Think about your audience and try to break it down in terms of:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Location
  • Income
  • Internet skills
  • Other

This will help you to determine your target audience which in turn will influence the look and feel of the website, whether you need to target an international, national or local market, what sort of pricing strategy to adopt, how easy the website should be to use and what sort of ongoing marketing strategies are required.

Who is Your Competition? How Are They Positioned?

Take the time to check out the competitive space. Questions to ask:

  • Who are your online competitors?
  • How do they position themselves?
  • How easy/hard is their website to use? Is it engaging? Compelling?
  • How are they positioned in the search engines? Can you compete?

How Will Prospective Customers Find You?

Once your site is built and launched you need to ensure a steady stream of targeted visitors. Now is the time to start looking at your ongoing marketing and what strategies you’ll need to adopt. Where will your prospects come from? Some to consider:

  • Search engines?
  • Word of mouth & referrals?
  • Offline advertising?
  • Online advertising?
  • Forum participation?
  • Blogging?
  • Other?

The answers to these questions will help you define your marketing strategy and your overall website strategy. For example if you feel search engines will be an important driver of traffic to your website it is vital that that is taken into account when your website is being designed.

By considering the above you’ll be able to put together a clear blueprint detailing your website strategy and how it should be implemented. And in the long run it will help you, and your web designer, create a successful website.

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Anyone Can Perform Basic Usability Testing

I am researching the competitive market for a new client and have been surprised at how poor the usability is on many of their websites. And these aren’t the sort of errors that could be overlooked – they are basic mistakes that anyone using their website will come across.

If any of these sites had performed some basic usability testing these mistakes would have been found and corrected. And it’s so easy. Grabs some members of your family and friends and watch them while they visit your website. Ask them to perform some tasks (eg purchase a widget, make an enquiry, find the contact details) and watch how easy or hard it is for them. This will give you a good indication of what areas of your website need improving. Then improve them.

Making your website an enjoyable, easy experience will help turn your visitors from frustrated browsers into customers. And who doesn’t want that?

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Trusting Your Instincts

I’ve written a lot about how important it is for businesses to choose the right web designer for their online project. Not just the cheapest but the one they feel will best help them realise their goals.

On the flip side it’s just as important for web designers to vet their prospective clients too. A business relationship needs to be mutually beneficial and if your instincts are telling you you’re not sure about a project or client listen to them. I know that can be hard when you have bills piling up, or want the latest iMac, but believe me these are the projects that usually go pear shaped.

The irony is, for me at least, every time I have listened to my instincts and not done a project, another better one comes along. As they say when one door closes another opens.

It may take a while to listen to and trust your instincts but believe me it’s probably one of the best pieces of business advice I can give you.

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