The 7 deadly sins on your website

Spiders webIt’s astonishing how few people actually THINK about their website visitors when they’re planning out their websites.  That’s why many websites don’t work; they’re focused on the website owner not the potential customer!

Try and put yourself in your potential clients’ shoes and think about what they are looking for when they arrive on your site.

  • How easy is it for them to work out if the website is likely to give them what they want?
  • How easy is it for them to find the product or service or information they were looking for?
  • How persuasive is the copy that is about that product or service?
  • How compelling are the benefits to the potential client?
  • How visible is the call to action?

So here are the 7 deadly sins:

  1. Too much going on.  This confuses your potential customer as they don’t know where to start and it means they have to think and make decisions – much too difficult!  They might just hit the back button and go somewhere easier to process.  Clean up your act – trim the number of options down to 2 or 3 and give the reader something to lead them towards those choices.
  2. No headline to engage them.  Welcome to our website is not a headline, neither is Home, or About or Services.  They are simply wasting prime real estate that you could use to tell your reader that there are lots of exciting goodies on this website and tempt them to explore a bit.
  3. Creative menus.  I know that Services is boring and What we do sounds better than About, but people know what these boring menu tabs mean.  They don’t have to think about it at all, they just click and they’re where they want to be.  Besides anything that has ‘we’ in it on a website is obviously nothing to do with your reader.  If you get too clever with menu names, people don’t understand them and often don’t bother clicking on them.
  4. We this and we that …  This may sound rather rude, but as a visitor to your website I am not at all interested in what you do – only in what I get.  So we do this and we do that doesn’t connect with me at all.  Now when you start talking about You can have this, or You’ll find that … I’m paying a lot more attention now you’re encouraging me to imagine what it would be like with your product or service in place.
  5. Copy that is flat, boring and unexciting.  How can you make widgets exciting? I hear you ask – well, if you desperately need a widget or your machine won’t work and people will be sitting around being paid for doing nothing, you should be able to find a way.  To write copy that really reaches your potential customer you need to know who they are – exactly – and you need to understand their problems, their wants and needs and then write content that persuades them that you can fix all that for them.  It’s all about ‘what’s in it for me?’
  6. Too much copy.  We’ve all heard about long copy websites, but they’re not brochure sites, they’re the sites that are virtually single page sales letters.  For ‘normal’ websites you need just enough content on the page to tell people enough to persuade them to take action.  They don’t need to know how you do what you do (any more than you need the detail of how the mechanic is going to fix your car).  They don’t need to know lots of details about your affiliations, awards and the hobbies of each member of your team.  They don’t need to know how proud you are of all your achievements (except perhaps on the About page – but briefly).  They just need to know ‘can you fix my problem?’ and ‘will it be fairly painless or, better still, enjoyable?’
  7. No call to action.  There are so many web pages where the message is quite clear until you get to the end and … nothing.  If you don’t tell me what to do next I might just flip to the next website on the list.  This means you need to know what you want people to do on each page of your website, then tell them to do it and make it easy for them so put the link under their nose don’t expect them to scroll about looking for the menu.

So that’s what not to do – just do the opposite to catch potential customers in your web.

5 tips on clicking and scrolling

Keyboard and mouseNo – not rocking and rolling – but the on screen equivalent!  Someone, somewhere made a ‘rule’ that you should be able to arrive at the page you want in no more than three clicks.  Then someone else also made a ‘rule’ that said a menu should not have more than nine or ten tabs on it.  If you have a website with a great deal of information the three click rule isn’t going to work here!

Then there’s yet another ‘rule’ that says that people won’t read more than two screens down a web page – so that means that pages have to have a small amount of information.  Besides, who decides how big the reading screen is?  In today’s world of smartphones, tablets, wide screens and notebooks how long is a screen?  Establishing where the ‘fold’ occurs is almost impossible.

So what is a poor website owner to do?  Here are my tips:

1.  Think carefully about the structure of your website before you start adding content (ideally before you ask a designer to create the visuals).

  • What is a logical arrangement of pages so that people can find what they are looking for easily?  
  • More clicks are better than more menu tabs, which many people just find overwhelming.  
  • However, the subpages need to be found under main menu choices that are obvious.

2.  Ensure you are clear on the purpose for each page .

  • What do you want your website visitor to DO when they’ve looked at the page?
  • How much information do you really need to give them in order to persuade them to do that?  
  • Only include the essentials – people don’t need to know how you do what you do, only what they get.  
  • And don’t forget your call to action.

3.  Don’t bury key pages in sub menus

  • You should include Home, About and Contact on the main menu.  
  • Also anything that you want people to find easily – FAQs, Case studies, blog.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t also link to these pages from other pages further down the pecking order on your menu, but if you think people will want to get to those quickly, put them where they can see them.

4.  Don’t fall into the trap of clever page names – stick to the obvious, it cuts down on people having to think about whether that page is what they think it is.  Some may not bother!

5.  If you have five services don’t create a page where they are all on a single page, one below the other.  

  • If they don’t see what they are looking for in the first screen or two, some people won’t bother to scroll any further and you could miss out on a lead.
  • Blogs and articles can have longer pages – people expect to see these on a scrollable page.

Just because tablets and smartphones are easier to scroll on don’t assume that everyone is viewing your site on one of these.  Acknowledge web-users comfort zones.  Make it easy for people to get around your site and it will work much  better for you.

 

A blog about blogging!

Blogs are a great way to demonstrate your expertise and also to give people something interesting to read when they visit your website.  However, there are many people who are nervous of blogging for all kinds of reasons.  These are a few guidelines to get you started or move your blogging activity up a notch a two.

Why blog?

  • Share knowledge
  • Educate others
  • Develop your reputation as an expert
  • Keep your website updated and fresh
  • Create content for social media

Then the next issue is what to blog – and there’s a whole article with blog ideas here for you to download.  There are no rules on what you can blog about as long as it’s interesting to your target audience.

Infographic

This infographic is designed by Graphs (www.graphs.net)

This many sound daft, but writing is not the only way to blog.  If you’re one of those people who hates writing try one of these options:

  • Post an audio file (try AudioBoo)
  • Post a video (YouTube – and Google loves YouTube so that has added advantages)
  • Post an infographic – where images and information are arranged in a visual image (like the one on the right created by Jeff Bullas).
  • Talk to someone who does like writing and get them to write your thoughts for you (we have lots of clients that do this)

How long should your blog be?

It can be anything from a few words upwards.  Say what you have to say and don’t pad it out unnecessarily.  A great example of someone who does this very well is Seth Godin.  Some of his blogs are less than 100 words - like this one - others are longer.  Whilst Gihan Perera writes around 500 words for many of his educational blogs.  They are both great blogs!

The frequency of your blog can be anything from daily to monthly, but I’d recommend aiming for 2-3 times a month.

Where to blog

Another odd statement – where else would you blog except on your blog?  Well there are different approaches to having a blog; you could have your web-designer create one on your website so you are adding great content to your site all the time.  However, some people have a separate blog on one of the blog platforms like WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc.  If you have this I’d recommend that you have your own dedicated domain name for your blog and that it is linked to your website.

You can also blog on other people’s blogs.  Find people with a similar audience to yours who are not competitors and offer to provide a blog for them to publish.  Most people are delighted to have guest bloggers as they generally publicise their blogs to their own audience too so everyone wins.  Of course, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t invite people to guest blog on your blog too.

There are also open blog forums that you can contribute to – that’s how the Huffington Post got started.  Take a look at:

Ragan.com

Birdsontheblog.co.uk

Blokesontheblog.co.uk

The Business Blogging Network

There are dozens of others and it’s a way to get your message read by a much bigger audience.

This should have given you lots of ideas – happy blogging.

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