Just when you thought you have a great website that looks wonderful and features all the bells and whistles visitors expect today, things change and your online piece of real estate property has become outdated and looks ancient. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us quite frequently.
It seems websites have been taking on a new look-and-feel for quite a while now. They’re “flatter”, show less content and more multimedia, and they’re a whole lot more sociable than ever before. (Our favorite website in that respect is www.teacherskillsforum.org. Check it out and you’ll experience what we mean.)
The reason for that is that with all these (literally) millions and millions of websites out there, users are becoming increasingly impatient, want to see what they’re looking for instantly, and are always happy to click on to another site that satisfies their needs better.
To prevent people from leaving your website prematurely and read as much as possible during those few minutes they’re visiting, you may want to consider the following:
Feature what’s important on the home page
If you have Google Analytics installed, you’ll probably notice that your bounce rate is quite high. Perhaps 50-percent or so. To put things in context, Apple’s bounce rate is 44.1%, Microsoft’s is 49.1%, and Samsung’s is 42.1%. (Source: www.alexa.com.) That means about 45% of the people that enter these sites exit from the same page they entered at. There are of course other indicators that are as important such as frequency of visits and average time spent on the site, but this particular KPI will give you quite an insight into your website’s performance.
This could be devastating if all the good stuff of your site is buried in its second or third layer of pages as half of your visitors never make it that far. Our bounce rate is for example 54%. Knowing that, we make sure that all the information we want our brief visitor to encounter is displayed on the home page, right where they’re landing. And if someone is really interested in a particular service or wants to know more about us, he/she can always click through to the second level of pages. But we really don’t want to take any chances and prefer to show all that matters on the home page.
Less is more
The less text your website shows, the better are your chances for people to consume your content. Gone are the days when people would write endless essays about companies and their services, and visitors would actually read that. There’s just too much else to do (i.e. checking on that Facebook page) than reading through endless text.
To make sure people keep reading and are captured, keep your text to the bare minimum. Keep your sentences short, and don’t use fancy words or industry lingo that makes you look smart but nobody understands. Keep your content in a logical sequence and don’t jump all over the place. It’ll irritate people and entice them to move on to someone else’s website.
Keep it easy on the eye
Our favorite websites are those that show lots of empty white spaces, use large characters in a friendly font, have generous spacing between the lines, and left-align their paragraphs. (You really don’t want to have your website’s content justified as that looks way to stiff and formal, and it looks really horrible in narrow columns.)
Use lots of pictures and other multimedia files to “show” content as opposed to “writing” it. Videos are great, but they’re relatively difficult and expensive to produce. But there’s an abundance in pictures and images that you can buy at very affordable prices from several online services. (No, copying and pasting pictures from a Google search is most likely illegal and will infringe on someone else’s intellectual properties.)
Update your site very frequently
There’s nothing wrong with changing or adding something every day. Websites aren’t supposed to be static, so the more often you webmaster your site, the better. People will notice that your website is active and vibrant and check back more often for new content. To do so, you will need a really easy-to-use web mastering service of course, and of which there are plenty readily available and at your disposal.
Having said that, it’s really important that you use Google Analytics for your website. This free tool will provide you with any and all details about your visitors’ experience you could wish for. How long they visit, where they come from, what they do on your site, where they exit from, which site referred them, what keywords they used to find you, and so forth. And based on these findings, you will have your work cut out to keep changing and tweaking so your website performs better week after week.
Don’t forget the technicalities
In addition to content and look-and-feel, there are lots of technical matters you need to pay attention to. At the top of the list comes SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization. If your site is not optimized, not that many people will find you. When people Google something, the usually look at the first few search results. So you want your URL to be right up there at the top.
Another critical element is to have a mobile friendly website. A great many people today use their mobile phones and tablets (as opposed to desktops or laptops) to browse the web. It’s therefore really critical that your website is mobile friendly so people won’t have to swipe your site across their screen. The truth is, they won’t as it becomes very annoying. Even Google will demote the ranking of websites that aren’t mobile friendly real soon. That is, if they aren’t already doing so.
You also need to make sure your site uses current technologies and isn’t built with obsolete tools. Flash sites for example were really hot and looked super cool, but are now more or less dead. They can’t be indexed and iPhone or iPads don’t even show their content.
Don’t forget the goodies
Besides the usual suspects – your share and like buttons – your website needs to offer an arsenal of engagement tools for your visitors. To mention some, contact forms, sign-up sheets for your newsletter, polls, and downloadable files are some great techniques to engage and capture your visitors.
And if you’re offering your visitors a mobile friendly version of your website, you can easily plug in call or email buttons so they can get in touch with you right from their little screen (but hopefully not while they’re driving.)
As much as we love and believe in Social Media, it is our opinion that nothing comes close to your website when it comes to your online presence. Even if you have exceptionally well managed and maintained social media channels, the ultimate destination you always want for your visitors to land at is your website.
Consider your website as your home on the web. You want people to feel comfortable and cozy so they stick around for as long as possible, and hopefully (sooner than later) conclude a transaction such as making a purchase or contacting you for an appointment or more information about your company.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges. Website | Facebook | Twitter
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