Great websites come in different shapes and sizes, but when it comes to creating effective websites that really work (as measured by generating leads and sales), there are several elements that are absolutely essential. Below are seven of the most important—how does your site compare?
A great website:
1) Establishes personal credibility. Credibility is always an issue when it comes to closing a sale. Think about your daily life—when was the last time you made a significant purchase? If you think through the process, you’ll realize that at some point during your decision, you addressed the issue of credibility. This is often a simple question you ask yourself, as in “do I really trust that this product or service will work for me?” Keep in mind that this credibility check is even more important online—because consumers are naturally more skeptical. If your website feels “anonymous,” you aren’t going to sell effectively. It’s important that your personal brand is communicated—and that you are presented as a credible and authoritative. Remember that people buy people—so present yourself in the best possible light.
2) Features appealing visuals. Visuals are important for any website—but many designers go too far. Fancy animations may look great to you—but nobody is going to sit around and wait for sixty seconds while your website loads. Your design should be professional, organized, and appealing—but never overwhelming.
3) Offers easy navigation for your target visitors. It is important to ask yourself who your audience will be. If you don’t expect your visitors to be tech-savvy, make sure that your menu navigation system is straightforward and easy to understand. No matter who your visitors are, never make your menus more complicated than they need to be. The goal of your menu system should be to allow your visitors to easily find the information they need (and the information YOU want them to see). So don’t overthink it!
4) Features a strong call to action. This is an area where many web designers go off course. They come up with great content, stunning design, useful tools—everything you could ask for. But then, they forget to come up with a compelling call to action. This can be in the form of a contact box, a free special report that requires an email address, or simply a prominently placed phone number combined with a great reason (a benefit for THEM) for your visitors to contact you. It doesn’t do you much good to have strong traffic to your site if nobody is actually contacting you, right? Without a call to action, you simply aren’t going to maximize the leads you capture or the sales you generate—so make it a priority!
5) Has a prominent opportunity to sign up for free content. Obviously, your primary hope for every visitor is that they will contact you and become a customer. However, it is important to recognize that many of the visitors to your site aren’t ready to commit at the moment. They may be window shopping (Trust me… I do plenty of window shopping, online and at the mall!), they may be researching, or they may just be curious. In any case, they aren’t going to make a purchase immediately—but they likely will make a purchase in the future. If you can capture their contact information, you can begin marketing to them and establishing yourself as the premier provider of the good or service that they’re interested in. If you continue to market to them, you can bet that, when they are finally ready to make a purchase, you will be the first person they contact. You can capture this information a number of different ways—but my favorite is by offering FREE valuable content, as long as they are willing to give you their email address, of course. This can be in the form of a special report, a weekly newsletter, or even a “members only” blog. Remember that the content must be relevant to their interests and must provide value—otherwise, they’re not going to sign up.
6) Includes a great “About” page. A surprising number of businesses fail to include an “About page” on their websites. Not only is this page a great opportunity to provide more information about your business and build a stronger connection between yourself and your visitor, but it’s another great place to build your personal credibility. You can do this by referencing your credentials, highlighting accomplishments, and sharing your knowledge. If you publish a blog, make sure you provide a link. If you’ve written a book, provide a link to your Amazon bio page! Take advantage of your About page to establish your personal brand, build trust, and present yourself as an expert in your industry.
7) Features strong and appealing content. I highly recommend including a blog on your website for a number of reasons. Most obviously, regularly publishing blog entries relating to your market makes you appear knowledgeable and well connected. It sends the strong message to your visitors that you are an expert on the subject. Your blog is also a great way to draw visitors to your website—by posting links on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, you give potential customers a reason to visit your website. And, a regularly updated blog will give your search engine rankings a boost. Google and other search engines love fresh content, and your blog is a perfect place to deliver it. Remember to keep your blog entries focused on your industry and to use your top keywords regularly—particularly in the titles. Whether it is a blog, articles, or videos, take the time to produce great content for your visitors. It can make all the difference!
Of course, there is more to creating a great website than I can fit into a single article—but if your site stacks up well in these seven areas, chances are you are going to be happy with the results! On the other hand, if you know that your site needs some work, or if you aren’t sure where to begin, contact me today! I’d be glad to help you out.