Congratulations! You’ve finished your first website! It’s online and looking great! Now, how do you make your website stand out from the crowd?
Websites have been a commodity for a while, and it’s only going in one direction. The once impassable barriers to getting something online are gone and anything from the simplest setups through to feature rich themes are getting easier to build for everyone. This is great news for the most part, but also means standing out in this crowded market and generating income from your website is getting harder to do. It’s also obvious to me that as the crowded market becomes even more packed the number of options increases, often with variable results.
I’ve written before about why, for a lot of people, creating your first website for free is a good idea. Learning the basics is a great way to understand the important question: “What do I want my website to do?”
We ask this of everyone we work with and once you understand this it’s much easier to look past “ohh, that looks pretty” and start to say “this looks good and functions perfectly”.
The next step is to look beyond the website graphics and fonts and concentrate on something far more important, the ease of interacting and doing business with you.
What are you selling?
Is it you? Is it things? Sometimes your product is what you want people to buy, but convincing them is all about what they think of you and your brand. It’s easy to put a shop online but harder to convince people that your product is better than a similar one. If you’re their favourite blogger or photographer, their decision to buy isn’t all about the product, it’s about their trust in you that drives the purchase. Your website should reflect the answer to this question, not just offer a bunch of products that people can browse, but build a rapport that means buying it is a no brainer.
Is your website easy for your customer?
How many clicks and scrolls does it take for a brand new visitor to see what your website actually is?
Beautiful websites that start with a full page image and require a click through to another large image that requires a scroll are making it very hard for me to understand who you are. Images tell a fantastic story but need to be seen in the context of what your site is about. What parts of that image do you sell? Did you design it? Take the photo? How am I to know if I haven’t been allowed to read your website? This isn’t to say you need a lot of text first, but thinking about the amount of time it takes someone to get there (let alone load the large image file) can have a big impact on the number of people clicking off your site.
Do your customers keep coming back?
How many clicks and scrolls does it take to buy something from your shop? What about Amazon.com? Websites that make navigating and purchasing as easy as possible will see return visitors far more than those that go for a great ‘look’ that’s impossible to use. Understanding your customer flow through your site and communicating at each step (purchase, shipping, after purchase care) will build trust with customers and motivate them to return.
Are you communicating with customers enough/too much?
Communicating through social media is part of the job of website marketing, but it is an ineffective tool if used solely to motivate buyers. Your social feeds give potential customers something to engage with, rather than just pushing your products. The best social media users will rarely push a product to be bought, but will instead grow supporters who want to mimic the look or feel of the brand and it’s after this you can introduce the reason (read: product) this holiday was so perfect, because we booked with this travel company – for example.
Newsletters are also a fantastic tool in which to welcome people to your site and invite them to look at new content, but need to be spaced out and be relevant to the person receiving it. Making separate lists and doing targeted campaigns are far more likely to endear people than just sending a blanket email to everyone in your contacts.
Does your website do the basics well?
A far more boring part of the job, but load times, Search Engine visibility, image sizes, mobile functionality, security, and ease of functionality are incredibly important to customers when they visit your site. Building loyalty is your customers knowing that ‘it just works’ when they visit you. You’ll quickly see when a website has been put together without thinking about these things, but won’t even think about it if it’s done well, and this is the goal of any website development.
These are just a few ideas to get your head above the crowd and stand out from the thousands of websites out there, and this is where we work with you to answer these questions and build a solution that is not just another website, but something that will properly convert the goal you want to achieve.