Why might your website fail? This question should give you pause. What could go wrong? What might you do or not do that could cause your site to be less than successful?
The number one reason your website might fail is if you build it for yourself. Not build it yourself, but build it for yourself. Your website is for your customers. If you forget or ignore, that you’ll lose.
When you create your website, it must be focused on your customers. A business exists to serve customers and your website must do the same.
Here is what you need to consider to make your website customer-focused. If you fail to understand and implement these key points on your website, it will work against you rather than for you.
Setting The Stage
First impressions matter. Your website has 0.05 seconds (1/20th of a second) to make a good impression.
First, the brain registers the overall design.
- Is it beautiful?
- Does it look trustworthy?
- Does it align with what I’m looking for?
If your customer gets past the initial first impression, they will scroll down your website. Once they begin scrolling down, they are looking for information that tells them you know how to help them.
While the messaging needs to be supported by the overall design, after first impressions, it’s the clarity of your message that matters.
We believe you should develop your messaging then create a design that enhances and supports the message.
Many business websites talk about themselves. They list prominently when they started, a list of their accomplishments and basically focus on how great they are. This is the wrong approach. Your customer wants to know how you can help them.
If you fail to show them how you can help them, they’ll find someone who will.
Start by taking the spotlight off yourself and put it on the customer. Stop being the hero and make your customer the hero. You should position yourself as their guide to help them get what they want.
Lots of stories have a hero. It’s referred to as the hero’s journey. Your customer needs to be the hero. The other character that helps the hero is the guide. That’s your role to be the guide.
Your customers want to know that you understand them. They will know you are connecting with them when you speak their language. This means you will be speaking to a specific customer. You can’t talk to everyone and connect with them. You have to be specific and talk to your ideal customer.
How do you speak their language? You speak their language by addressing their external and internal problem.
Let’s say you have a landscaping business. A potential customer’s external problem might be an unsightly yard. Their internal problem might be embarrassment over what others think about their unsightly yard.
Your website could then feature a statement like the following: Landscaping that will make your neighbors jealous.
When you are able to connect with your customers you will develop trust. Trust is a powerful step toward a sale.
Remember that your customers are buying an external solution to an internal problem. When you are able to connect at a deeper level of the internal problem, you’ve just separated yourself from the majority of your competition. Why? Because most businesses never do more than address the external need.
There is almost always a deeper feeling or emotion that drives people to make a purchase. Find that reason, connect with your customer and they will feel that you understand.
Clear and to the point
You want to use simple language that is clear and to the point. You will do best if you keep your words to a minimum. If you make your customers read through long paragraphs they’ll get tired. If your customer feels worn out trying to figure out what you are offering, they’ll leave your website.
You’ve probably noticed how some websites only take you a moment to determine what they offer. Other sites you hunt around trying to see what they offer. Confused, you hit the back button and try another company.
You’ll probably want to cut your text by at least 50% so you don’t overload your customers. Take a sentence or paragraph and see if you can turn it into a bullet point. A simple short clear message will make it easy for your customers to connect with you.
You can always provide more information via a link to an article.
The goal is to address their internal and external problems in a clear and concise manner. This will make it easier for them to do business with you.
After messaging is clear and customer-focused, it’s time to create a beautiful design that will enhance the message.
The overall design of your website should compliment your message. The colors, images, fonts, and layout should be an extension of your message.
Too many websites are built without thinking about who they will serve. It’s about the customer, not the business owner or the designer. Yes, every designer has a design bias, but they should be striving to design for the customer.
On your homepage, you’ll want a clear short statement that conveys what you offer. Here are a couple of examples:
- Landscaping that will make your neighbors jealous.
- All you need to sell online. (squarespace.com)
- Our unique medical clinic and all-inclusive packages make hope, health, and healing possible. (thrivenfunctionalmedicine.com)
- Because relief matters and adventure awaits (tigardphysicaltherapy.com)
- We offer coaching for single moms that provide support and tools so the fear of parenting melts away.
Your homepage should focus on moving your customer to take one action. You need to know what that action is. If you have multiple options for them, they are less likely to take any of them.
Above the fold
Above the fold refers to the area visible on a website before the visitor needs to scroll. This area is key to engaging your customer. You must demonstrate that you can help them.
Depending on what you are offering, it can be a good idea to provide a link where your customer can buy, signup or call right at the top of the page. Most people won’t use that call to action, but it prepares them to take that step later.
In addition, you can offer useful information in exchange for an email. Your useful information could be in the form of a free PDF, video or audio that will provide value specific to what you are selling.
Some product or service offering will do better with simply a clear message about what you offer above the fold. The design, clarity of message and images will pull your customers down the page where they can learn more.
Keep your message clear, but as you move down the page you can add more text. More text doesn’t mean unleash the text but simply a little more is okay. You can create links to additional detailed information as required. This can be a link to a blog post or an expansion box that opens when they click “read more”.
Call to Action
You’ll want to have more than one call-to-action on your homepage (Just make sure you’re making the same call, not asking your visitors to take different actions). When you ask for the sale, sign-up, or phone call, it suggests you believe in what you are offering. If you are offering something valuable, then you can confidently ask your customer to take action.
But remember that your call to action will need to be benefit-oriented. Always be thinking about your customer. Why would they want to click the button? Let them know what will happen when they click, simply saying buy or submit isn’t good enough. (BTW, the word submit leaves less than warm feelings in someone. So use the word send or subscribe or something else friendly and descriptive instead. Little details like this are worth the effort!)
An example would be, click here for a list of upcoming seminars. The customer knows the benefit of clicking as well as where they are going.
Sorry, but images can convey more information faster than several paragraphs. Use them to demonstrate how your product will help your customer.
You’ll benefit from using images that will express the state of mind your customers will have after purchasing from you. You’re painting a picture of the positive outcome that your product or service will provide your customer.
If you are targeting a certain demographic or psychographic, use images that they will connect with.
You images should look as natural as possible, even if they are stock photos. If your photos look like stock photos don’t use them. Images that look overly posed just won’t help your customers connect with you like more natural images will.
You can include testimonials, offer guarantees, show logos of familiar companies that do business with you and trust logos. Trust logos are like badges from places like BizRate or Better Business Bureau.
These trust factors help your potential customer feel safer doing business with you. Another great way to build trust is to have your phone number on the website, or even your location map can go along way in creating this feeling as well. The more the better!
Place your contact details at the top of your website in the header. You can also include them again in the footer. As I just said above, providing details on how to contact you is part of developing trust with your customer.
You want to make it easy for your customers to navigate your site. If they struggle to find the information, they’ll find another business that is easier.
Menus today are generally on the top, so it’s best to stick with what people are comfortable with. Design that is familiar is considered more beautiful.
Use simple clear words in your menus and links. You want your customers to quickly find what they are looking for. Remember, speak their language.
Number of Pages
To determine the number of pages you need requires knowing your customers’ needs. Your homepage needs to convey enough clear customer-focused information to lead them to the next step. On additional pages or blog posts, you can provide access to additional information.
How much information your customers need will be determined by who they are and how simple or complex your product or service is.
When you create a beautifully designed customer-focused website with a clear message, easy navigation and just enough information, you’ll connect with your clients. When you connect with your customers they will develop trust. Trust translates to purchases. Your website can play a huge role in whether your business thrives.
If you take the time to implement these ideas, you will be taking a big step towards avoiding a website that fails to serve you and your customers needs.
If your website doesn’t measure up, set aside time to begin implementing the changes you need to make. If you don’t have the time or expertise then consider investing in having a professional craft a website for you. You can invest in a website that will be crafted so you stand out from the competition and that will be beneficial for both you and your customers.