I was asked to put together a simple “top 10” list for someone who is doing a presentation to small business about their website and small business marketing. I put together this list with the help of various resources that I read including Bryan Eisenberg from FutureNow, Inc.
1. K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid. Buttons should look like buttons and links should look like links. Perform the “Mother-In-Law test”. Imagine your Mother-In-Law on the site. Would she know what to do? Would she understand what each link on your page does and have a good idea of where it is going to take her when she clicks on it? Would she understand why this website exists?
2. Offer a solution – Every visitor to your site has a need and has come to you looking for help. Don’t make the visitor dig to find out what you do. Present their problem on the home page and explain in short, concise words how you will solve it.
3. Track everything – You won’t know if you’re successful if you don’t track it. Many website developers offer basic website statistics. If they don’t, Google offers a new analytics package that is fairly advanced and easy to install. Determine what metrics are important to you and create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and monitor them closely. If you offer content or articles, perhaps one of your KPIs is the average time your visitors spend on your website. If you sell widgets your KPI would be conversion rate; the number of purchases per website visit. Once you know which KPIs to focus on, monitor them religiously and test various methods to improve them. E.g. If you are paying for online marketing, you can determine the Return on Investment by tracking your newsletter signups or net revenue of the items sold.
4. Offer a Scent Trail – Your visitors have come to you for a solution so give them a “scent trail” to follow. You now have a good understanding of the visitor’s problem so guide them through your website by emphasizing specific content or links to where you would like them to go. Too many equally weighted options (links) offered to your visitors will cause confusion. The detail page of a product for sale should display the “Add to Cart” button as the most important link on the page and it should stand out proudly. When viewing the shopping cart, the “checkout” button should be larger and bolder than the “empty cart” button as that is the “scent trail” you would like them to follow.
5. Be consistent with industry leaders – Websites such as Amazon.com, Yahoo, Google and many more follow similar, widely adopted styles and structures. If the websites that you enjoy and visit regularly put the categories along the left-side margin, then you should too. Website visitors understand large fonts and hyperlinks that are underlined in blue. Designers and developers don’t. Who would you rather please?
6. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should – Flaming, spinning logos. Need I say more?
7. Present your UVP and a clear call to action – Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) should answer the question “Why should I do business with you and not someone else?” Describe how your company will bring value to your visitor. Once that’s understood, offer a clear call to action such as an “add to cart” button, a contact us form, a phone number, or a newsletter signup form.
8. Write copy in the “active voice” and not the “passive voice” – active copy emphasizes the doer of the action and comes across as more persuasive. Active copy would say “The Sonic Drill has everything you need to make perfect holes up to two inches deep and one inch in diameter, quickly and easily.” The same copy written in the passive voice would state: “The Sonic Drill can be used to make holes up to two inches deep and one inch in diameter using the accessory kit that is packaged in the set.” Which copy is more compelling to you?
9. Use text instead of images whenever possible – When a search engine “spiders,” or indexes your site it reads the text on your site to understand what your site is about. If your site is comprised of mostly great-looking images, there is no content for the search engine to read and therefore you will have absolutely no chance of showing up in the search engine results. Whenever possible use text on your site and be sure to interject “keyword rich” words or phrases that users may use when looking for your product or services on a search engine.
10. Make your forms simple – Website users are hesitant to provide personal information on the Internet. If you must ask for their information, ask for the least amount of personal data as possible. Once you establish that you are trustworthy, you will then be able to request additional information. If you have forms on your site, don’t make your visitors follow strict guidelines when inputting the data. Some website forms require a phone number or a credit card to be typed in with dashes or the visitor will encounter an error. Allow your visitors to input their data any way they wish and have your developer write simple code that cleans it up on the backend.
1. K.I.S.S. – Okay, it’s not really a bonus, just a repeat of the most important guideline to follow. Be sure to Keep It Simple Stupid.