No offense, but your website is not all about you.
We talk to small business owners all the time that rattle off a list of the features and benefits to be highlighted on their website. But that's not what they should be thinking about when developing a website.
They need to be thinking about the User Experience.
User Experience (UX) refers to how a user feels about using your product or service, or in this case your website; do they find the experience easy, pleasant and useful or was it frustrating and difficult?
There are a few things to keep in mind when developing a website for your business that will allow you create a positive user experience - and market your business successfully.
1. Keep It Simple
Simple navigation, simple calls to action, simple organizational structure. You don't want to make your readers think to much. It's not a matter of dumbing down the material, but rather streamlining it so they can easily get the information they want.
Think about your audience. What types of people make up your audience? (Read this earlier article on personas for more info on identifying audience members.) Different folks are likely looking for different types of information; organize your information and navigation accordingly. Again, don't make them work to find what they're looking for.
2. Don't Say It All On One Page
Think of your website as you might a conversation with someone you're meeting for the first time. You start with a simple "This is who we are" elevator pitch meant to elicit an invitation to tell more. If you do this successfully with your website, your reader will click through to read more. Now you have an opportunity to discuss in more detail what services your business provides, how you work, etc. This might invite some questions; another click through.
Strive for a natural flow to the site, just as there would be with a conversation.
3. Let Readers Know What You Want Them To Do
Readers should know what action you want them to take without guessing; again, don't make them think. If you want them to subscribe to your newsletter make sure the optin is simple and highly visible. If you want them to download a whitepaper, don't be coy... tell them "Download Now".
Often we try to be clever in how we deliver our message. This usually only succeeds in confusing our readers.
4. Don't Add Unnecessary Steps
We once came across a site that required FOUR steps to optin to the mailing list! 1. Click the link that said "mailing list" 2. Read a page explaining if we wanted to join the mailing list click on "this link". 3. A blank email would open to which we could add our name, email etc. 4. Send email. Egad!!
Each step increased confusion and provided another opportunity for potential subscribers to abandon the process. A far more efficient - and more UX-friendly - approach would be to have the "Mailing List" link to directly to the optin form with fields available so subscribers would know what information was required.
Work to limit the number of steps required to take a given action to as few as possible.
5. Reassess often
Creating a positive user experience isn't a "one and done" proposition. By reviewing your website on a regular basis and looking for opportunities to improve the UX on your site you'll be improving your site's overall effectiveness as a marketing tool for your business.