I look at people’s websites for a living. I can almost always spot mistakes that if improved upon, will lead to better results.
But talking to other people about their websites is a touchy business. Unless they’ve hired me to perform a website audit and asked for my advice, I can’t just approach somebody and say:
“Hey man, I looked at your website! Did you know that if you did XYZ differently you would get so many more customers?”
That would be … awkward.
I learned a long time ago that another person’s website is a precious thing. Whether you’ve paid a great deal of money to have it designed or you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into designing your own —it’s hard to look at your website objectively.
But a website is not something you make “perfect” and then sit back and wait for customers to flock to you. A website is a flexible instrument, and it can (and should) be approached as an iterative process. As you get more information — like sales and conversion results, traffic statistics, etc. — you’ll make adjustments: amplify what’s working, abandon what’s not. Lather, rinse, repeat.
In fact, being able to make changes is one of the most brilliant advantages to using a website to market your business! (If on the other hand you print 100,000 brochures, you should probably go ahead and shoot for “perfect.”)
So, my challenge to you today is: Send your ego on vacation for a few minutes and take a look at your website as if it were for the first time.
Don’t think about how much it’s going to cost you to make changes or what you want your website visitors to do. Just pretend you’re your own ideal customer, knowing they:
- Have questions
- Are looking for something
- Have a reason for visiting your site, some goal in mind
- Need something
And also, that they:
- Probably don’t know you, trust you (yet), or are sure if you’re legit
- Have very little time and patience
- Are constantly inundated with messages all day long, most of them very similar and unhelpful
- Are easily distracted, even bored
- Will “skim and scan” your website trying to find what they’re after FAST
- Are not familiar with your site structure and won’t immediately be aware of where to find things (you might know your contact information is linked from the third paragraph on your about page but they won’t)
- Won’t dive deep into big blocks of text (unless you’ve really proven it’ll be worth their time)
Armed with this knowledge, ask yourself some questions (you’re the customer looking at your site for the first time, so I’ll frame the questions in that tense):
- What is it they do? (Is it clear?)
- What problem are they going to solve for me? (Is it clear?)
- Are they speaking to ME? Or is this for somebody else? (With more money, a different need, etc.) (Is it clear?)
- What makes these guys any different than the last site I looked at? (Is it clear?)
- Where do I go to find information about ______? (Is it clear?)
- Where am I now on the site, where should I go next, how can I get back to where I was? (Is it clear?)
- How do I get in touch/buy/take the next step? (Is it clear?)
If you’ve discovered any areas where you aren’t making it super clear who you are, how they can find what they’re looking for, and what actions they should take — you’re certainly not alone. Most websites are far from perfect! But now you’ve discovered some great opportunities to make your website work much harder for you.
If after this exercise you come away with a few actionable ideas — and most especially if you see improved results because of it! — I would LOVE to hear about it in the comments below!