Week 4 of 52 – Looks aren’t everything (especially in the online world)
“Looks aren’t everything. Looks fade, but character remains.”
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Let’s face the facts, everyone knows a good looking website will grab your attention straight away. If it is striking to look at with engaging colours and flair, then we most likely will drop in for a closer inspection. But if that site (and its associated business) has no apparent brand character and it doesn’t try to engage with us, that visit to the site may be quite short. We quickly remember that we are visiting for a particular reason and any site that fails to recognise this, going for appearances alone, will lose out on many potential customers.
There are a number of items that need to be taken into consideration whilst building and maintaining a successful business website. Read on and determine whether your site has character and purpose or just shallow “good looks”…
Don’t overwhelm your visitors with information
Some websites are far too wordy for their own good. “Short and sweet” should be the general rule of thumb with text content, and sometimes imagery, on a site. Your site visitors are not there to read the entirety of “War and Peace” about your business. Just give them the information that they need in short concise paragraphs, being sure not to leave out any vital details in the process.
Try to use a language that is engaging (not robotic). As I write this marketing blog post, I am actually speaking it as I type, trying to keep a professional tone balanced with a friendly style (I like to think of myself as a friendly kind of person). Try to be helpful in the information that you share so that potential customers, even if they don’t buy, come away with positive vibes about your business. You never know who they might send your way.
The Hook and Call to Action
We have all seen the cheap and nasty commercials on TV – SALE, SALE, SALE, BUY, BUY, BUY – like those for Super Amart or cheesy rug warehouses. Please don’t try and replicate this on your site! The main difference between the two mediums is we don’t choose what advertisements appear while we watch “My Kitchen Rules” (or whatever your TV poison might be). We do choose what websites we visit.
Try to avoid the hard sell, instead, lead your potential customers towards a sale through the form of some type of engaging story (quality TV ads use this methodology too). An online pool sales website might tell the story of a young family looking for an escape from the summer heat. A business in computer sales to young people may discuss the latest games and the hardware needed to play them. My new portfolio (coming soon…) will display my latest sites and the motivation behind their construction.
Once you have told the story and (hopefully) hooked the customer on what you have to offer, make sure it is blatantly easy to purchase from you. This will involve a distinct “Call to Action” somewhere on the page. Click here to read one of my previous blogs all about Calls to Action. They are vital to making the transition from potential customer into actual customer.
Use a consistent brand message
Make sure the tone of your site fits in with the image that you are trying to project to your prospects. Some web designers love to show off their skills, producing out-of-this-world proposals that might not exactly fit the desired brand message. For example, a website for a business that sells baby furniture would not suit a “grunge” style design, even though it might look fantastic.
Along these lines, be sure that whatever website design you create ties in with the current branding you have used in the past. I’m a firm believer that a site should work with the layout designs of your business cards, stationery, emails, signage, etc. When building a new site, you may opt to completely re-do all the above but ensure that that the message and style from each is consistent with the business’ brand.
While you are creating or adjusting your site, always keep in the front of your mind why people are seeking out and coming to your business. A potential customer is there to find out what you are all about, what you can offer them and how they can get it from you. They are most definitely not there to say “Wow, pretty website!” so make your site worthy of their visit.