Nice website. Too bad it won’t bring you any business.

lousy user experience

The goal of marketing is pretty simple. Attract, inform, engage.

You want to attract new customers. Then let them know how your products or services can help them. With clear, concise content and compelling graphics. Easy, right?

It should be. But too often, people make it far too complicated. Especially on websites. We’ve all seen sites that made us wonder why a company would ever attach their name to them.

lousy user experience
Lost. I’m totally lost! Image courtesy of morguefile.

Some of the most offensive generally include one or more of the following:

Flowery copy
Way too much overblown copy. Overwriting doesn’t attract. It bores. And boring content doesn’t get read. Instead, keep your copy clear and as concise as possible. If you can’t do that, at least break long copy up into digestible chunks. Or use subheads to make it scannable.

Convoluted navigation
Confusing navigation leads to a crummy user experience (crummyUX). It’s frustrating to have to guess where to click to find what you need. So visitors to your site end up leaving. And going to a smarter company’s website.

Why not make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for? Figure out the simplest way for people to move around your site. The fewer clicks to find something, the better. Make finding information easy.

Poor use of graphics
Compelling images can grab our attention. Bold, bright colors. Unusual designs. Wildly clever visuals. But when graphics make copy illegible, your clever marketing messages go unread.

Mixed messages
Your business might be the best in the industry. But odds are there are only one or two things that make it really special. Focus on those one or two things as key points of differentiation. Streamline your messaging so it has more of an impact.

Hidden contact info
Make sure your business phone number and email are in an easy-to-find place on your site. If you’ve ever tried to call a restaurant from your cell phone and not been able to find the phone number, you know what I’m talking about.

Five easy fixes. Well worth taking the time to do if you want your website to bring you new business.

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The Big and the Small of It

Image credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/davidpwhelanBuilding a website is an exercise in both forests and trees.

The right words have to be there to draw the right eyeballs, your message has to be clear, and there have to be clear and effective calls to action. These are the forest level functions.

But it’s the little things that can destroy your credibility — misspellings, poor grammar, the wrong font in the wrong place, a poorly cropped image, etc. It’s as if a tree has fallen across the path.

A website is an exercise in first impressions. What impression are you making?

Is it fair to judge a company by a typo, or when they use “your” when it should be “you’re?”

What judgments, fair and unfair, are made about your business based on your website?

Neil Steinberg brings up this point in his May 7 blog post. He wrote

I was walking down Shermer in the old leafy suburban paradise and saw that sign announcing the new place, “Agave Anejo Mexican Grill,” and immediately had this thought: They’ll never make it.”

Why? Their sign was crooked. The restaurant owners were not paying attention to the details. One little thing mars a greater whole. It’s the tree across the path. Once seen, you can’t unsee it. Your expectations have been set.

When you build a website, pay attention to the big picture but sweat all the details. Your mother was right when she said ” you only get one chance to make a first impression.”

Image credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/davidpwhelan

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Six features your website must have.

Websites differ in design and style. But there are certain features that all good websites have in common. Here are 6 of them:

    1. Readability
      Legibility is paramount when reading digital copy. Can viewers read the copy on your website? REALLY read it? On a cell phone or tablet as well as a laptop?A good website is designed for ease of reading on ALL screens. That means fonts are web-friendly, reverse type is used judiciously (white type can be dramatic but it’s hard to read as body copy) and clutter is kept to a minimum.
    2. Clear Messaging
      Will visitors to your site clearly understand what it’s all about? Or will they have to fiddle around to discover who you are and what you do?Once someone lands on your site, you’ve 15 seconds to convince him to stay.

      Good websites keep visitors engaged.
      Good websites keep visitors engaged.

      Especially if your product or services fix problems for people. People looking for something they need are generally not very patient. Continue reading “Six features your website must have.”

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    Why you shouldn’t build your own website.

    It’s tempting. You’re a startup with tight (or no) funds. You don’t want to spend any money unless it’s absolutely necessary. You see all the DIY website promos and figure “how hard can it be?” Looks like a no-brainer. So you opt for WIX or some other development program and build your own website. For free. Over a weekend. An entire weekend!

    So you're going to build your own website
    How hard can it be?

    You launch your website. But no one comes.

    Hmmm. What went wrong?

    Your first mistake was to assume you could do something on the fly. Web developers  and designers are generally highly trained. They’re schooled and skilled in writing code, designing layouts, font and color selection, navigation, and UX. And if you hire a web development team, there’s a copywriter or content creator on board to make you sound as good as you look. And likely an SEO expert so that your website comes up when people search for a keyword  or phrase that’s incorporated into your copy.

    Oops. You probably didn’t consider that when you opted for DIY.

    So before you waste a lot of time and commit to a drag and drop website, ask yourself these 6 quick questions:

    1. Do you have the time to learn how to build an effective website or should you use that time to build your business?
    2. Do you have a solid grasp of marketing and a clear picture of how your potential clients use websites?
    3. Can you write compelling copy and calls-to-action?
    4. Do you understand UX and how people will navigate your website?
    5. Do you know how to use color and custom fonts to build your brand?
    6. What will you do if you waste spend 10-20 hours “building” a site that you can’t use?

    If you answered “yes” in 1-5, you might have the skills necessary to build your own site. If not, call someone who builds websites for a living.

    Your business needs a website that works. Save money somewhere else.

     

    Be Mobile Friendly for the Right Reasons

    It’s about your visitors, not Google

    responsive-designIn April, Google made an incredibly well-hyped announcement that sites that aren’t mobile friendly would not be ranked as highly as those that work well on smaller screens.  That announcement generated a media storm of coverage, from innumerable tweets to articles in major newspapers.  It’s brought us some business, too. Thanks, Google!

    Google is not the reason you should make sure your site is mobile friendly.  Your site should be mobile friendly because your visitors — a really big chunk of them — are using mobile devices and you want your site to look as good as or better than the “desktop” version.  The bottom line of our argument is that most of your viewers are probably on mobile devices.  Are you making them happy? Continue reading “Be Mobile Friendly for the Right Reasons”

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    Mobility: The next Google-quake

    responsive-designWe’ve always preached that good content is good SEO*, and good SEO gets good SERP**.  That’s true, but there’s now a new wrinkle.  Google cares whether your website is “mobile ready“.  All things being equal, a mobile ready site will be placed above one that’s not on the search results page.

    What does mobile ready mean?  We’ll talk about that a bit more below. First, get a yes or no answer from Google:

    Is your site Mobile Friendly according to Google

    Mobile Friendly means that your site reformats itself for mobile devices. Continue reading “Mobility: The next Google-quake”

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    Now that you have a website…

    Getting a website is not the same thing as having one.

    three_meerkats
    We’ll keep an eye on things.

    You put blood, sweat, and tears into getting a website.  There were multiple revisions of the design.  Text was written, copied, pasted, and then done all over again.  Photos taken, photos discarded. Keywords chosen and tested.  The message honed and honed again.

    And then you were finished, and the Internet was better and brighter for having your site.

    So you’re done!

    Well, not quite.  Just like getting a kitten, you take on the responsibility for a friend and a life.

    What are your responsibilities to your website? Continue reading “Now that you have a website…”

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    How do you know when it’s time to update your website?

    If you’ve ever gone house hunting, you know how important curb appeal is. It’s the “drive by factor. Even if the interior is absolutely smashing,  if a house doesn’t look appealing from the outside, few potential buyers will make it inside.

     

    Gable end of home addition, Marvin windows

    Photo Credit: Brock Builders

    That same visual appeal applies to websites. Those that haven’t been updated are “drive by’s”. One look and the (potential) visitor is gone. No matter that what you’re selling is exactly what that visitor is looking for….they won’t ever see it!

    Some people are vigilant about keeping their websites fresh. Generally, they’re web designers, developers or content marketers who do this for clients on a daily basis.

    But let’s say you’re not a web designer or developer. No doubt, you’re busy with projects, proposals, meetings and keeping clients and customers happy. Days are full and time is tight. Marketing can often fall by the wayside. We get it. We’ve been there!
    Continue reading “How do you know when it’s time to update your website?”

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