Your website is often your first contact with most people – clients and potential clients, customers and competitors. Create it to be interesting, engaging and the best possible representation of your company.
The single most important reason for your website to exist is to capture leads that can be converted into business or sales. Capturing leads takes on a variety of different meanings depending upon your product. If you want your website visitor to take it to the next step, you better have information relevant to that is presented in easy to understand, aesthetically pleasing format that is easy to navigate.
These days, no one will do business with you without first looking at your site. Whether they do it before your first meeting or after, rest assured, they will definitely do it. And if they don’t like what they see, they will take a pass.
Think of your site as your most important sales rep. Set it up so that the reader knows exactly where you want him or her to look first and why he or she is there.
In my opinion, the majority of sites online today are completely worthless. People build websites because they feel they have to have one – which they do. But they are so focused on just getting it online that they do not think about the “Why” and the “What”: Why you have your site and what you are going to do with it is all that matters.
Here is a perfect example. I have a client that wanted to update their company’s website. It was awful. They knew it and I knew it. They asked me to build them a new one. I asked them what they wanted to accomplish with their site. They didn’t know. They just knew that they needed a new one.
I told them that I could not build anything for them until they had a clear vision of exactly what they wanted the site to accomplish and how they wanted the user to navigate it.
They looked at me like I had two heads. After all, who walks away from business? I thanked them for their time and left their offices.
A couple days later they called me back in and asked me what I recommended. I told them that they needed to do the following and I would help them with it.
First, determine the reason for having the website and why someone would want to visit it.
Second, find out how their sales reps could best utilize the website and the information on it.
Third, identify what kind of information they would want a potential client to gain from it.
Fourth, determine what they wanted their current clients to get from it.
And finally, and most importantly, do not forget the human element. People do business with people, not with sterile websites. Your website has to be an extension of you and your business. I need to feel like I am being treated like a person and that your business is made up of people and is not a cold corporate entity. That is the single biggest difference between a website that gets business vs. one that does not.
Once that was known we could develop the content, and the content would dictate the structure of the site and the way to guide visitors to use it. A well built website guides visitors through it without them even realizing that they’re being purposefully – and helpfully – directed.
The website that we built is not only a wealth of information presented in an easy-to-understand manner, but sales people can send to clients or potential clients links to the specific website resources they need, rather than just sending a generic view.
The other huge problem with websites is that most are built from the inside out instead of the outside in. This means that a template was used or that the designer and developer you hired force-fit your site into how they think it should function.
Developers are very linear people. They can build whatever you tell them, but as a rule creativity is no their strongpoint. Even if you decide to build a site on the cheap and go with a template or build it yourself or have a relative do it, I recommend that you hire a designer to give it some character, then have the developer “connect the dots”.
The more time you spend planning out what you want to accomplish with your site, the better the chance that it will perform the way you want it to in the long-run.