The old adage used to be “any website was better than no website at all.” After looking at thousands of websites over the years, I disagree. There are some absolutely horrendous websites out there doing more damage than good. Those businesses very well may be better off having no website at all.
Do you know how your website rates? Do you know if it is helping or hurting your business? If you don’t know for sure, you need to find out. Here are a few key factors to help you evaluate your website.
Getting unbiased reviews is a critical step in evaluating and improving your website. And when I say “unbiased” I mean don’t ask your mom, spouse, or best friend to review your site. They will think it looks great because no one wants to hurt your feelings. Also, unless they are marketing professionals that specialize in website design, SEO marketing, etc., they likely don’t know what they’re really looking at any way. Spend a few bucks and have a marketing professional critique your site for you. Be very clear with them, you are looking for a critique at this moment, and not looking to hire them (at this time) to fix or improve your website. Often times part of their review/critique will include all of the wonderful things they can do to make your website a whiz-bang-attention-getter, so be clear that you ONLY want the critique for now.
Once they have critiqued your website and given you some feedback, you can assess what changes you are capable of making yourself, versus what you might want to hire out to them at a later date.
Get more than one critique as well. Getting feedback from multiple knowledgeable sources will help you hone in on the details that need the most attention. For example, if you consistently hear that your home page is too cluttered, but only one person doesn’t like your color choices, then I wouldn’t worry about the color choices and would immediately work to clean up the home page.
Short Attention Spans
Unfortunately you have six seconds, possibly less, to catch a potential client’s attention. If they can’t find what they want quickly once they arrive at your site, or your site is too slow in loading, you’ve lost them. They will have already moved onto someone else’s website. A competent website designer can help you with a slow loading site, as well as help you strategize your content and its accessibility by visitors. A good rule of thumb is to make sure they can find anything they need/want on your site in three clicks or less. The more they have to hunt and peck, the more likely they are to give up and move on.
Neat, Clean, Crisp
The look and feel of your website needs to be uncluttered, clean, professional looking, and visually inviting. Yes, you want visitors to find information easily and quickly (remember, three clicks or less), but at the same time a cluttered site will deter them just as quickly. You need to consider the colors you are using (a marketing professional can advise you on color choices and what various colors convey to site visitors), as well as the use of inviting photos and videos (used with copyright permissions, of course), and catchy headlines/titles.
At the Very Least
At the very least, have a one page website that looks clean and professional with the necessary information that new clients need to connect with you. Give them your address (or if you work from home, give them your mailing address i.e. an UPS Store box), phone numbers, an email address, and your operating hours. Include information how to find you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Don’t be coy and hard to find. That will turn off and frustrate prospective clients faster than anything else.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvacations.com), she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.