Everyone recognizes the importance of a Website so why is it that so many companies drop the ball when it comes to their design and content?
In looking at hundreds of Websites recently for some startup marketing projects, it’s troubling and surprising that so many fail to deliver a solid, let alone great, user experience.
Here are some key questions a Website has to answer:
1. What what does your product do? People are digitally impatient so they don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what a company does. It means telling people quickly and clearly (and we’re talking about in seconds) about what a product does and, as important, how it meets the needs or interests of a potential customer. This information has to be snappy and easy to understand, which means using a small number of words and eye-catching graphics or photos. The penalty for dropping the ball is people will click away to another Website.
Best practices: Create clear and well-articulated messaging about what your product does and the benefits. Start with your homepage, and then continue to promote on other pages.
2. Who are you? Unless we’re taking about a major brand, most companies have to offer information about what they do, who they serve, and the people behind the scenes. The best vehicle is the “About” page, but too many companies don’t give it enough time and attention. In too many cases, About pages are a waste of time because companies don’t tell people what they do and who should use their product. Instead, they offer a confusing mash-up of history, philosophy, culture and approach, which makes the About page useless.
Best practices: Quickly tell people what you do and who you’re targeting, as well as offering links to the management team (including photos). And don’t be afraid of being creative by including things such as a timeline to show people the company’s progress
3. How does it work? Once your homepage captures someone’s attention, you may need to tell them more about the product so they understand how they could use it. A good “How it Works” page featuring some text, graphics and/or a video should let people quickly grasp what you product does, the key benefits and how they could embrace it.
Best practices: Make it quick and simple to understand what’s involved in using your product. The easier you make it, the more likely someone will move closer to making a purchase.
4. How are you different? There are plenty of competitive options so it’s important to illustrate your product’s unique characteristics and how they are different and/or superior from rivals. Don’t be afraid to boast – after all, this is about marketing and sales. Consider the use of interesting and clear benefits statement on the homepage, as well as charts that show how your product stacks up against competitors.
Best practices: Be confident and bold about how you stand out from the crowd. Highlight the benefits and features that let you outflank the competition to encourage potential customers that you’re the better option.
5. How much does it cost? You’d be surprised by how many companies make it difficult to discover on their Websites how much their products cost. But as someone goes through the purchase funnel, they’re eventually going to want to know how much it will set them back, so why not make it easy. For products with multiple pricing tiers, a clear and easy to understand pricing chart can be a valuable sales tool.
Best practice: At some point, the price of your product could be a deal-maker or deal-breaker. If you’ve done a good job of showing people the value of your product, you shouldn’t be reluctant to give them clear pricing information
5. Tell me how to buy your product? If your value propositions, benefits and features seem promising, you need to make it a snap for people to make a purchase. There should be strong calls to action, as well as clear instructions on how to buy – whether it’s on your Website or though partners.
Best practices: If someone wants to make a purchase, make it as easy as possible. If the purchase happens on your Website, the process should involve as few clicks as possible. If it’s through a partner, send people to a specific page rather than having them peck around on another Website.
6. How do I contact you? It sounds straightforward but it’s important to give people a variety of options to get more information, ask questions, inquire about partnership opportunities, or provide feedback. A “Contact” page should provide an email address, telephone number, physical address and people who can handle different topics.
Best practices: Let’s face it, most potential customers will ask questions. Your Website should provide plenty of answers through calls to action and a solid FAQ (an under-rated but valuable creature). At the same time, there will be some people who will want more information so give them options to serve the way they want to communicate.
Bottom line: A Website needs to effectively meet the needs and interests of potential customers, as opposed to a company’s needs and interests. It’s a slightly different look through the lens but doing a good job of telling people the best information at the right time is a great way to make your marketing and sales efforts more effective.