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Basically, a website is your most powerful tool because it is able to evolve as your business grows and because it is a tireless worker. No one on the planet can work harder than a website because a website is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It doesn’t need to sleep, never gets sick and will not run out and will not require time off.
Yet the website is the biggest missed opportunity for most businesses because the vast majority of the time they just don’t work. When someone says their website “isn’t doing anything” it boils down to one thing: sales.
Imagine this scenario: you try to talk to a salesperson, except that particular person is only looking awkwardly at you. Whenever you try to ask a question, you only get a robotic response repeating the same sentences with extremely vague information and a list of words. You don’t have to be an oracle to predict the future on this one: no one in their right mind will buy from that person.
Communication is the most basic requirement for a sale to happen. Your website is a digital communication tool. Most sites communicate like a scary salesperson who can only repeat the same vague information. Basically, this is why the vast majority of businesses have websites that fail.
Most businesses don’t know what to focus on, so they spend money in random directions hoping it will ‘fix the website’. Would 10,000 more people talking to the Scary Salesperson ultimately result in a sale? They would probably get a few, but with a terrible closing ratio and a high cost to have so many people in front of them.
So what should you focus on to make the website effective?
1. Understand that your website is never finished
Websites have endless possibilities for what they can do. The problem with this is that most of the time people try to overcomplicate and overthink their websites from the start. They’ll look at other competitor’s websites, assume it works for them, and want to copy or duplicate whatever happens. This causes people to agonize over small details, often for months on end, because the assumption is that “once it’s done, it’s done”.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Rather than seeing a website as “done,” think of it as a lifelong work in progress that grows and evolves with you and your business. No design is perfect and there will always be flaws. Stop striving for perfection and embrace a test and improve mindset instead.
Highly experienced web design companies will give you an incredible head start and get you started racing halfway to the finish line at a fraction of the cost it would take to figure out how to get there otherwise. Even with a head start, you still have to run to win. Too many times people hire designers thinking they’ll fix it all on their own, so they never “race”.
Related: 3 Reasons Your Website Will Never Be Completed
Website design and content is how a website communicates
Most websites make it difficult to design, making communication ineffective and development costly and time consuming. Start very simply. The main web pages you need are a very small set: home page, about page, product / services, and contact.
Keep the design neat and clear. Far too many websites add way too much to one page. It’s a bit like an empty counter, just begging to be filled with clutter. Think about it: is a kitchen full of stacked old dishes or a clean worktop more appealing to a guest?
Simpler designs also make your content creation needs easier to digest and solve. Remember that the website is still a work in progress and you can always add more pages.
Even in today’s media-rich world, writing is the primary way people consume content online. Writing is how your website “talks” to a customer. Bland and generic content makes your customers believe that you are also bland and generic.
Here’s an example: Rather than listing services and products with industry verbiage that your average customer doesn’t understand, illustrate the issues you’re solving and the process you’re implementing.
People buy based on whether or not the product or service can solve their problem. Features are only used to compare one service to another. By going through the process that they will go through as a customer and how each issue is resolved in a way that they can understand, you give your customer a lot more confidence in your business because you “understand” them.
Related: How To Make Your Website Your Best Seller, Not Your Worst Money Pit
You need to use analytics and know these two basic stats
Websites are constantly evolving and constantly evolving. Once we have our design, we need to see how effective the communication really is. The only way to do this is to know what our visitors are doing when they come to the website.
There are many free analytics tools available, with Google Analytics being the most popular. While there are tons of useful metrics out there, the vast majority of our analysis boils down to two: average time on page (also known as average engagement time) and users.
When we are looking to improve a website, the vast majority of decisions are based on these two statistics. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to know them. If you can sign in to Analytics, they display in a chart on the first page.
Average time on page tells you how effective your website is at communicating. More time means you are more efficient. Situations vary, but generally people who spend less than 30 seconds mean you really need to improve. People who spend 1.5-2 minutes + mean you’re doing pretty well. If you don’t know these stats, you have no idea what’s wrong with your website. Making random guesses about what you need to change doesn’t often work, which is why the vast majority of businesses spend money on website improvements that don’t actually solve their problem.
For example, if you buy a service like ads, SEO, or leads and send them to your site, but people spend less than 10 seconds on the site, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on those services. (and in fact, more and more SEO is based on the time people spend on your site).
The reverse is also true. If you are spending the money on a redesign and people spend an average of five minutes on the site but only two people visit the site, then the redesign will not help you solve your problem. What you need is more people to see your site.
Remember: your website doesn’t have to be perfect from the start. You can change anything you want at any time and the goal should be constant and consistent improvement based on knowing the real problem. All you need to do to win gambling on the website is to make frequent, small, and simple changes based on customer stats.
Related: A Small Business’s Guide to Google Analytics (Infographic)