The Weekend Solopreneur

Issue 22.38

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Is your website doing its job?

Your website has a job. Specifically, it is responsible for two things:

  • get people to connect with you
  • sell your stuff.

If you don’t sell stuff online, your website’s single remaining job is probably even more important. Your website is where people come to check you out, learn about what you do and help them decide if they want to contact you.

But not all websites are good employees.

Here are the top six signs your website is slacking off. (You can download the website assessment tool at the bottom of this story.)

1. It’s not immediately clear what you do, or for whom you do it

When someone lands on your website, they’re going to form an impression of what you do in the first thing they see.

  • If it’s relevant to them, they may read more.
  • If it’s not relevant, they will not only go away—they will also “remember” that you’re not interesting and probably never visit again.

Headlines like “Powering the Future” tell me nothing. But “Hassle-free Accounting for Small Businesses” does. If I’m looking for an accountant for my small business, I would probably read more.

When visitors come to your website, is it immediately clear what you do, and for whom?

2. It’s all about you

As much as we would like to tell people how great we are at what we do, your website is not for you—it’s for your potential clients. It has to be designed around their questions and needs.

The first thing they want to know is: can you help me with my problem?

If your website is all about you, you’re creating work for visitors. They have to process the information you provide (about you, your products and services) to see if their problem fits into what you’re offering. If they get it wrong, you may have lost a good client. Or you have to spend time with someone whom you really can’t help.

Is your website all about you?

If it is, you’ve lost the opportunity to tell them you understand their pain and you can help them solve their problems.

3. They don’t know what to do next

It’s so disappointing reaching the end of a web page and not knowing what to do next. Most of the time, we start clicking at random hoping to find something useful—or we just go away to see if there’s someone else who can help.

Every page on your website needs a small number of clear, prominent Calls To Action.

A Call To Action (CTA) is a button, link or form that invites them to read more, or download something, or contact you. Without clear signposts of where to go next, chances are your website visitor will end up in a place where they don’t take action.

4. You don’t write like you speak

Too often we see websites written in officialese:

Officialese: the formal and typically verbose style of writing considered to be characteristic of official documents, especially when it is difficult to understand.

Your website is not an “official” document. You’re trying to engage visitors, and it’s a lot easier to do that when you’re having a conversation. Official or formal language may be suitable in some settings and cultures, but most of the time a website should be plain language—easy to read and understand.

Is your website written in officialese?

5. No people in sight

Ah, the faceless corporation. Pretty words, great promises, a soulless contact form and an info@email address. Not a person in sight.

Fact is, people do business with people.

We more easily do business with people we trust, and building trust starts with not being coy about who you and your team are.

Not having real live humans show up and stand for something deprives you of the opportunity to start building trust – and makes it more difficult for potential clients to reach out to you.

Are you giving up the opportunity to start building trust by hiding behind an anonymous website?

6. Bad design hides good information

Good design is not just about making things look pretty; it’s also about making it easy to find what your visitors are looking for.

Some of the bad design issues we see include:

  • centred text (difficult to read);
  • information crammed together (can’t see where things start and end);
  • intrusive pop-ups or messages (obscuring your main message);
  • too many different fonts and colours (distracting).

Does your website hide good information?

How good is your website?

Good website design starts with using your common sense. Who is your website for? What are they looking for? How can you help them?

If you don’t get those very basic human things right, all the marketing psychology in the world is not going to help you.

If you would like to rate your own website, download the Website Assessment here.