Why Most Sites Don’t Work

Most sites are, in a word, boring to most all others except the creators. They focus on the firm’s services, products, processes and credentials. Don’t turn off your prospects. Answer those frequently asked question about your firm, your expertise, your products and services in your introduction copy or sales letter. Remember the “So, What… rule. So why should your client care?

Client Solution Focused Content Sells

Sites that work to sell products and services attract prospects because they provide information prospects want and can use to solve a problem or meet a need.

  • If you’re a lawyer, your site should focus on legal tips and strategies your target market can use
  • If you’re a graphic designer, include ideas on using design to improve visual communications
  • A computer systems expert could give your site visitors tips on keeping their computers from crashing
  • A writer could include a tutorial on writing with examples of copy makeovers of web pages, press releases and brochures

You get the idea…

Using a client information / education focus for your web site, works for a number of reasons. Today, people usually search the Internet for free information—the way we use to go to brick and mortar libraries. Think about your favorite sites, (other than your own), why do you like them?

Two side benefits of providing information and education on your site are:

  • You establish yourself as an expert in your field
  • Your educate prospects about opportunities they may not have been aware of

It’s content that pulls attention

Just take a look at http://drudgereport.com/. No flashy, fancy graphics; just straightforward content. Yet it pulls in over four and a half million hits each day, five and a half million per day during this past month and has made Matt Drudge a very famous name.

Content brings customers to the site and keeps them there. (This is not a debate about the quality of content, that is entirely up to you.)

What’s the content your prospects would love to read on your site? Hint: It provides answers to common client questions and problems.

Easy Step Number 1: Keep the pages simple.

Keep It Simple! Did you know that humans retain only 7 to 9 pieces of information at one time? It is best to keep the site simple. It’s not laziness; it is just the way most of us are wired.

Don’t overwhelm the user—simple, clean, and an easy to follow design.

Consider simple formatting of text, nicely balanced colors, easy to understand navigation, and a message that is clear and simple. Quality copy counts. This is one place you do not want to skimp. Hire a quality copywriter and editor.

Most people are searching for very specific information or items. They want to be able to find them quickly. Remember the adage: “Maximum benefit for minimum effort.” More is not always better. Highlight what’s most important for them to know, tell them what you want them to do—then show them where you want them to look next.

Many sites try to put all the information “above the fold,” however, today’s visitors are comfortable with scrolling and searching. They are willing to put up with some scrolling for the benefits of increased white space, line height and readability.

One-column designs with top and side navigation have become the accepted format. Staying within accepted formats makes the information recognizable and allows the visitor to quickly scan the page. “Scanability” makes your pages read in a straightforward way from top to bottom. You don’t want to confuse visitors by having their eyes skipping around (not knowing where to look next).

Remember, keeping your web site simple, both from a customer’s perspective and the backend engineering will save hours of frustration and dollars.

Easy Step Number 2: Make it easy to understand and navigate.

Create a “map” of how your customers might enter and navigate the site. Creating the site on paper first allows you to see where and how it all flows together. Work to eliminate all barriers to the intuitive flow. Consider asking others including clients to look over the flow to see if they consider it intuitive/quick and easy to understand.

Consider customer eye-tracking. Recent research shows how customers scan a web page Most do not read your site—they scan, beginning in the upper left, then down to where the headline might be, (but not where the banner ad might be) then looking for bullets, images and pull quotes and then down to the bottom for the close, cost or call to action.

A few guidelines:

  • Consider having your logo and company name or your opt-in request in the upper left where the eye most commonly starts the scan.
  • Have consistent placement of similar items on all pages.
  • On forms, users expect input field labels to be to the left of the fill-in window.
  • Use a drop-down list only if no alternative element would serve the purpose as well.
  • Maintain adequate white space (distance) between all elements on your page.
  • Limit moving objects, too many colors and other distractions.
  • Make your paragraphs short – three to five lines. Reading onscreen is not easy for most people, if paragraphs are any longer than that they’re hard to read and your visitor will give up before they start.

Easy Step Number 3: Keep the search engines in mind.

There are four major ways people will find your website: