3 Tips to Make Your Website Actually Useful
Gone are the days of a “form over function” internet. Where once the simple novelty of seeing a business online, in any fashion, was often enough. Now, today’s more savvy audiences simply want to get where they are going. So with the priorities of today’s business websites being speed and ease of use, here are 3 tips that can make sure you are providing your customers the information they require in the best way possible to help you make conversions either on your site or in person.
1. Where is the business?
Contact information is the most important information you can have on the internet. Seems simple enough, yet many well-intentioned websites make this information difficult to find. Studies show that people will tend to look at the top left corner of your website first, like they’re reading a book. This is where the most important information should be, your contact info—don’t make customers scour the page looking for a way to find your business.
There is lots of data you can include in the contact information section. The trick is finding the balance of information overload vs. unnecessary vagueness. There are three things you need to specifically include:
Hours of operation
People seeking this information are likely close to buying, so having your hours of operation listed accurately and in a fashion that’s easy to read is a huge priority. Here are two examples, one bad and one good, to showcase how your hours should be listed online
Don’t do it like this We are open Mondays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Tuesdays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Wednesdays – 8:00 am-7:00 pm, Thursdays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Fridays – 8:00 am-7:00 pm, Saturdays 12:00 pm-5:00 pm and the service shop is also open until 7:00 pm.
Looks hard to read, right? It doesn’t look nice, it’s hard to look at specific days, and you don’t know if the service shop is just open on Saturdays, or if it’s always open until 7:00 pm every evening.
A better example Sales: Mon 8 – 5 Tues 8 – 5 Wed 8 – 7 Thurs 8 – 5 Fri 8 – 7 Sat 12 – 5 Sun Closed
Service: Mon-Sat: 12 – 7
Looks a lot nicer, right? It’s a lot easier to read and find the information you need. The most important part is to make sure the hours are accurate. Even if it takes an extra line to better explain a confusing set of hours, customers greatly appreciate knowing when they can expect your business to be open.
Unless you’re an online retailer, your address is an essential part of your contact listing. But just like hours of operation there is are a variety of ways to share your location. Here is how we recommend it. Provide enough information so that Google maps can locate the business. For people in major cities, often times just your street address is sufficient. But if your business is a little tricky to find consider linking to a map application, or have the map right on the website. If you’re going that direction, make sure to use an accredited map engine like Google Maps, instead of a hand-drawn creation. People tend to be a lot more familiar with popular map formats and might get confused/scared at the sight of your beautiful artwork.
This is the number where customers can most easily reach you. Businesses with multiple departments equipped with individual phone lines, might want to stick those on a “Contact Us” page. There’s no sense in cluttering your home page with 30 different phone numbers. Businesses should have one phone number on the homepage display to be a catch-all for any inquiries. Don’t forget an area code for those out-of-town customers. Make it easy for on-the-go customers to hit a button and have their mobile device ring the business instantly.
2. Who is the business?
You likely have a lot to say about your business so the real challenge here is the distillation of your story. Here, think of the company from the customer’s’ perspective; what makes you unique? Why are you better than their competitors? What do you do for customers? These question will likely shed light on the most important information to share, at least at the top of the page.
Once you’ve got your top level information cased, consider designing a way for interested customers to learn even more about the business. There you can dive deeper into your history, philosophy, and share any achievements or media coverage your business has had in its past.
3. What does the business do?
This is where functionality needs to be the highest priority. Customers are looking for confirmation that your business is what they are looking for in the moment they are searching. You can’t afford to have this information be anything but concise, easy to find, and extremely helpful. It’s challenging to know the exact right strategy for your business but a tactic we recommend is taking a look at your closest competitors for insight.
Look at those website and assume the perspective of their customer. If you like something about the way their website works, make a note. If you find something super inconvenient or confusing, again, make a note. Have these notes inform your approach.
A lot of people think a website should be an online version of your business. In reality, this is virtually impossible. A website is more like a messenger for your business. It’s a tool for relaying information about the business to potential customers. If your messenger is long-winded, confusing and tries to use flashy bright colours to grab attention, the customer is not going to be engaged. If your messenger relays all the information in a simple, concise and memorable way, customers will be much more likely to engage. It is quite likely a website is the first impression the customer might have of your business—remember, you only get once chance to make a first impression!
How to Avoid Having an Ugly Website
Websites are important for every business. In today’s digital age, having accessible online information is crucial for success. Just having a website isn’t enough, though. What matters is what’s on your website.
Website content needs to be geared toward making the consumer want to interact and engage with it. So, let’s take a look at what not to do when creating an appealing website, and I’ll show you what you should do instead along the way.
You’ve read this far for one of three reasons:
You want to learn how to optimize your website for the best consumer engagement and interaction
You’re worried that your website is ugly and came here for peace of mind that it isn’t
You had nothing better to do and the catchy title of this article made you blow a little air out of your nose, which, in today’s digital age, translates to one “lol”
No matter the reason, you’re here for a solution, so let’s dive right in. Before we discuss any more, take a look at this website: http://thebiguglywebsite.com/. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work!
Are your eyes bleeding yet? I wouldn’t blame you.
We know your website can’t possibly look this bad, and we also know that this website is TRYING to look bad. Now, what are the chances you scrolled down to see what was listed on this site? If they gave out a million dollars at the bottom for clicking a link, chances are that you wouldn’t have walked away with a penny.
Why is this? Consumers don’t want to engage with unattractive content. Think of your own website content for a moment. If somebody looked at it and felt the same way you just felt, do you think they would stay and interact with it? Probably not.
Start by thinking of all the things you’ve hated on websites you’ve visited in the past. Chances are, one or more of these was on your list. If they weren’t, they will be now.
1. Ugly domain
Do you find it easier to go back to a website with a simple domain like website.com (an example), or do you prefer to type in randomwebsite123.org/data0=184/net%/ (another example)? You may be saying, “But hey, I just Google the name and click on the link!” Sure that might work for you usually, but would you be happy having to find your favorite and most visited websites by Googling them every single day? You’re better off having a website that people can remember if they choose to. A consumer’s first impression of a website is largely design-related, so don’t you think some of the people in that category want to see a neat and tidy domain? Of course they do!
2. Long loading times
I considered leaving a bunch of blank space here so you would have to scroll down and waste your time to prove my point, but I decided to make you read this sentence instead.
Consumers hate waiting. This is the digital age of instant information. It takes consumers only a split second to form an opinion about your website. That tiny amount of time shouldn’t be spent on a blank loading screen! Even worse than that, if there is a long loading time every time a consumer tries to interact with your website or navigate the different pages, they are going to get increasingly annoyed.
Here is the worst case scenario: You have a consumer who is ready to buy from your online shop, they start gathering up products into their cart, then they get fed up with waiting and instead buy from your competitor. Want to avoid the tragedy? Keep it fast!
3. Complicated or overwhelming interface
Does your website have too many buttons on it? Are people being bombarded with information? People are being trained to ignore huge amounts of website content due to websites crawling with ads. Keep it simple and focus on important topics or focal points that they can engage with. With plenty of consumers abandoning a site due to poor design, you can’t afford to hide your crucial information in text-garbage. Don’t lose consumers because they can’t find where you hid the crucial information on your jumbled page.
4. Automatic music or videos
Many people listen to music while they work or surf in their free time. If you’ve ever noticed a little speaker icon on the right side of your internet tabs, it means that sound is coming from that page. Many people’s first instinct is to kill that tab because it’s forcing disruptive sound onto their experience, and autoplaying audio or visual content can cause valuable consumers to leave your site.
If you have videos on your main page, great! Just make sure you let people click the play button on their own. At the very least, it will give consumers a chance to silence their other music and video sources before they listen.
5. Website doesn’t scale
Do you always look at a website on your computer, or do you sometimes use your phone or tablet? Don’t you hate it when you’re interacting with website content on your phone and you have to scroll all the way to the right to read the full line and then scroll all the way back for the next line? It’s terrible! Make sure your website bends and twists to fit every screen—this is called responsive web design, and it’s very important. If people don’t realize your website actually operates differently on their smaller screen, you’ve done something right.
Your website content is one of your most important marketing tools. Whether or not people engage can mean the difference between one dollar and one million dollars in revenue. It’s worth it to take the time to make your website beautiful.