- provide value
- Accessible and usable from any device
Know your audience
If you don’t know your core audience, you may be addressing the wrong topics and missing the pain points that motivate their quest for a solution, ultimately failing to convert visitors.
When you try to appeal to everyone, you are likely not resonating well with your typical buyer. However, when you understand who you are speaking to, you are more likely to convince them to take the next step.
Is your audience knowledgeable? If not, avoid using technical terms that might be over their head.
What are your audience’s demographics? Are they tech savvy? Are they about to get married? Do they work at a desk all day? Knowing your audience allows you to have dialogue that garners their attention, and most importantly makes your listeners feel understood.
Direct visitors swiftly
Unless you are running an entertainment website, your visitors aren’t browsing for fun. They have a specific task to complete, and not all visitors follow the same line of thought. The last thing you want is to create obstacles and slow your customers down.
Most visitors end up on your homepage first. That is why it is critical to treat your homepage as a portal, helping visitors find the destination to complete their desired task. This is not the place to get detailed, since you can send visitors to dedicated pages for the specs of a product or the terms of service you provide. The homepage is the place to give an overview.
The homepage is a great place to have teasers, a quick textual and visual preview of deeper content, short text and visual queues of the various sections of your content. A news website might have a teaser of breaking news with an image and the title of the article or teasers for each news topic like “sports” and “business”. Teasers can help direct customers to the right department of your store, like target.com does below:
Not all visitors start on your homepage, and even if they did, you still need to help people get around from any page on your website. That is the purpose of navigational menus, which usually appear in the website header (top of your website).
Our first objective is to create a uncluttered version of your website structure. Grouping content can help simplify the structure. For instance, visitors that want to reach out, find your location, or lookup your hours have different but similar tasks. A common practice to address these tasks is to group this information on a contact page.
Common navigation mistakes to avoid
- Using vague, unusual, or creative naming conventions
Don’t puzzle your visitors. When you force visitors to think or use trial and error to find their way around, you are doing a disservice. Instead, stick to common-practice and straightforward naming structures that are familiar to people around the web. No need to reinvent the wheel.
- Using wordy naming conventions
While you may think specifics help describe pages on your website better, it takes longer to read. Shorter is better, and one word is ideal. If you’re struggling coming up with one word that represents a section, look at the websites in similar industries. You will find logical ways to label the various sections of your website.
- Complex or long navigational structures
When you have a lot of content hosted on your website, you risk drowning your visitors with non-relevant content. The way to prevent a long list of options from overwhelming visitors is to group content into shared sections or nest options into sub-menus. Another tool that helps is a search function which pulls relevant content based on user-typed keywords. Pro-tip: if you can track searches, you can often get a glimpse of content you are missing.
- Treating all tabs with equal importance
It would take a minutes to listen to a phone menu with 12 options. Instead, listing 4 or 5 of the most popular options which account for 90% of all calls would direct calls better. You could save a miscellaneous option to speak with an operator for the rest. In terms of a website, those less sought after pages can be grouped together, found through a search bar, or linked in the footer (or bottom) of your website. Not all visitors want to see the careers page, but job applicants are more likely willing to look around for that option.
Communicate with concise language
Attention spans are short.
Websites that fail to load in under 4 seconds lose visitors. Imagine what a long winded paragraph does to a visitor. While there is nothing inherently wrong with providing detail, make sure you present the critical components in a easy to digest format first, and then present the details for those of us willing to read on.
Don’t treat every bit of information with equal importance.
Digging into the visitor data on a Chamber of Commerce website, I found that 2/3 of visitors were destined to the events calendar or business directory. When developing the navigation and homepage, it was critical to make sure th
Avoid the fluff.
Can a paragraph be said in one sentence without removing any crucial information? If so, then cut to the chase. When a customer asks a store clerk in person where to find an item, they don’t want a story — they want to know the isle number. No one wants long stories when they first visit your website, unless they visit your blog. Say what needs to be said, then allow your visitors to proceed with their objective. I find it helpful to type all my thoughts out initially, organize the thoughts, and finally trim those thoughts into exact language.
Articulate . 90’s websites displayed directional instructions on how to get to locations. With GPS…
It takes thought to structure your ideas on paper.
Hierarchy helps users scan content, and is accessible to those who don’t consume your content the way you’d expect. Put time into your titles and sub-headings.
Overcome common objections
Any good salesman knows how to identify and overcome common reasons preventing people from becoming customers. Most business websites are more-or-less promotional tools and should be equipped to improve sales. No matter how great products or services are, people will hesitate to give you business if you are seen as a risky purchase. Building trust is the way to combat this notion.
One of the common techniques to build trust is to demonstrate social proof and past success. Examples of building social proof could be displaying testimonials or a portfolio. Building social proof doesn’t end on your website, working to consistently receive positive reviews on 3rd party services can really go a long way. Building your social media following helps show your are popular. Lastly, creating social media campaigns where you encourage your customers to share their positive experiences with your product. Nothing is more convincing at building trust than seeing a friend happily use the very product.
For other common objections uniquely related to your business, you could spell out the concerns in a question format and answer them in a frequently asked questions (FAQ) segment. FAQs are great to point out the benefits to your products, because you get to frame the questions, while actively addressing the common questions that are likely in the back of your customers head.
Show your best side
While many wear comfy clothes at home, you dress up decently before stepping out in public. You might even go all out for a special occasion like a date, wedding, or job interview. What would a hole in your shirt say to an interviewer, or a stain in your shirt tell your date?
When it comes to your digital appearance, the same applies. Your look should be fitting, consistency.
Creating and sticking to consistent brand visuals is like picking out a nice outfit where all the pieces work well together. That wouldn’t be the case if you had multiple strangers pick out the various pieces of your outfit. Nothing would match, not even your socks. Failing to set predefined colors, fonts, and other style choices can make your company look goofy. That simple attention to detail makes it obvious when your company is behind any given message.
Target your locals
Unless you’re a seasoned business, you’ll find marketing is a challenge. The best way to drive traffic to a new website, is to appeal locally. That is because