You have invested in a website for your business, you are happy with the design, have all the pages you need, but you can't help feel something is missing or the site could be better somehow.
Don't worry! This type of thinking is extremely common amongst owners of newly launched websites, and rightly so. A website can always be better, no matter how old or new it is.
There are a few characteristics all great websites have in common. They capture your attention, inspire trust, guide visitors effectively around the website and make getting in touch easy.
Inspired by these characteristics, this article touches on simple yet very effective strategies that can be applied to instantly improve your website. The aim is that you’ll have a handful of easily actionable ideas to implement and as a result, have the satisfaction of knowing your website is the best it can be!
1. Establish a clear message
Upon a new visitor entering your website, the first questions they ask themselves is “am I in the right place?”, “have I found what I am looking for?” Users typically take less than 8 seconds to decide whether they're going to stay or not.
In those 8 seconds your website must clearly inform the user of what the site is about, it's purpose as well as capturing their interest and convince them to keep reading.
Crafting a clear and concise message that describes who you are and what you do is essential to building a successful webpage that keeps visitors engaged with your website.
Consider the content that visitors immediately see (without having to scroll down) when landing on your website. Does your text and imagery clearly answer their questions?
Write a "business 1 liner"
Think of how you would best describe your business in one sentence or even just a few words. Ask family, friends and clients this same question to help give you some ideas. This process will help you to distill words and phrases of what you and others think of your business.
Once you have your "business 1 liner", write 2-3 sentences that describe what you do in greater detail. This allows you to elaborate on your 1 liner and communicate valuable information about your business to your website visitors.
Choose appropriate imagery
They say pictures are worth a 1000 words. This statement is even more true when taking a very minimalist approach to website text. Finding imagery that complements and adds to your text helps to convey the nature and core values of your business.
Apply to Your Design
With your "business 1 liner", 2-3 sentences and imagery chosen, it is time to position these in a highly visible area on your homepage. This should be somewhere at the top of your page or featured in an image banner where the information is clearly visible.
Take Base's homepage as an example. They clearly define their product, who it's designed for, what it does and how it can help, all done so in under 30 words.
Pro Tip: Apply to all website pages
Think about all the other various pages of your website. You may have many different service and product pages. Do they answer those visitor questions within the first 8 seconds? If not, or if you think they could be clearer, then simply apply the same technique and tailor your one-liner and 2-3 sentences to your page specific content.
Completing this for all pages of your website not only helps visitors digest your website information easier, but also is great practice for SEO as it helps include your keywords and phrases in a very natural way.
2. Connect with your visitors
A well designed website should immediately inspire trust and familiarity. It can be achieved through carefully crafted content on your website. Being able to harness this trust with your visitors can instantly help your website make more meaningful and memorable connections.
Show your face!
People enjoy doing business with people, being willing to show your face can go a long way towards building trust.
Here's a picture of me in a hammock!
Whether you are one person or have a whole team, get photos taken of each individual member and some shots of your workplace.
Most websites reserve these photos for the "about" page, however to really set yourself apart, incorporate photos of yourself and your team throughout your website.
Not only does this element of personal touch make your site appear more approachable, but also provides future clients with an idea of who they may be working with, making visitors more receptive to enquiring about your services.
Moz proudly features each and every team member on their website. Each team member has their own page that explains their role in the company, personal achievements as well as fun facts about them.
Use a quote or your own personal message
Let people know what your goal or vision is. Lose the corporate third person narrative and say something from you as the business owner to your website visitors.
Let them know why you do your job, what you love about it and how it can benefit them. Design-wise this is also a good opportunity to include your professional headshot next to your quote or personal message.
3. Let customers do the selling for you
While a carefully crafted message and personal imagery are great at building trust and rapport with your website visitors, this alone is not always enough to convince them to purchase your product or make an enquiry.
Nowadays it is less about what we say about our businesses and much more about what others are saying about us.
Feature client testimonials and reviews
This is highly effective way to build trust in your products and services. Many business owners overlook the effectiveness of testimonials and reviews, believing the common misconceptions that website visitors don't read them or think they are fake.
Speaking with past and existing clients and finding those who are willing to provide genuine quotes endorsing your business provides evidence about the quality of your work. It also adds another human element to your website that helps engender your visitors' confidence and further win their trust.
Take a look at how Xero uses testimonials on their website.
Their homepage features testimonial snippets as well as photos of their customers. The testimonial page includes videos, quotes, client names and read more buttons that take you to individual case studies.
Showing that you have solved common problems that other people have experienced allows visitors to identify with the individual or business from the testimonial.
This identification often leads them to realise that your service can solve their problems as well, making an enquiry or sale much more likely.
4. Guide your website visitors
The ideal website should provide a smooth and logical process that tells the story of your business, introduces the team, explains your products and services and leads them to a desired chosen action.
Many small business websites forget to identify what it is that they want their users to do and are left with a site that provides a poor user experience and abandonment after viewing just a couple pages.
Fortunately there are some simple methods to help improve your visitors' time on site, number of pages viewed and positively influence your desired outcome.
Define your goals and design accordingly
What you would like users to do while browsing your website? Probably one or more of the following;
- Make a purchase
- Fill out an enquiry form / Call
- Sign up to a newsletter
- Share your content on social media
Put yourself in the shoes of your website visitor and think about the various pages and thought processes they must go through before you earn their trust and they hand over their contact details.
Consider at what point and on what page visitors will be ready to carry out your desired outcome.
Use call to actions
Guide your visitors logically through each page of your website. Instead of relying on the main navigation links to direct them from page to page. Try adding buttons and labelling them in interesting and personal ways to grab their attention and create a sense of urgency.
Crazy Egg has a very simple yet effective homepage that has been designed with their goal in mind; get users to try our product.
It establishes a clear message of what their product does and leaves an easy decision for their website visitors. After all, who doesn't want to make their site better?
Design every page as a landing page
A lot of websites out there are designed in such a way that assumes the visitor has previously entered via the homepage. However in reality, the majority of visits begin on other pages.
Consider the content on each page of your website. It needs to be designed in such a way that whatever page a visitor lands on, key information and content is there.
This will help guide your visitors in the direction of the next page(s) bringing them closer to your desired goal and outcome.
5. Make getting in touch Easy
So you have a website that informs, engages and builds trust with your visitors. All you need now is a contact page right? No. While having a contact page covers the bare minimum, there are a number of ways to make yourself more easily accessible to your website visitors.
Feature contact information on every page
This is fairly common advice and most business websites out there are already doing this. The most common places for contact information (email & telephone) are usually in the header or footer of the website.
In section 4 we discussed considering at what point on the page your website visitors will be ready to contact you. The optimum point you have decided on is the best place to add your contact information or a "get in touch" button linking them to your contact page.
Contact forms - not just for contact pages
Ideally, you want to make getting in touch as quick and easy as possible. Why wait for users to navigate to your contact page if they are ready now?
Providing your website visitors with a concise contact form with the following fields is a sure fire way to acquiring enquiries.
- Telephone number
Elevate user experience with live chat boxes
Your business can create an engaging experience for existing and potential customers by using a live chat service on your website.
Instead of relying on an email response within a few hours, a live chat box allows you to instantly build rapport with your visitors during their shopping experience. Being available to chat in real-time is a great way to build trust and confidence in your business as visitors are able to get instant answers to questions and helpful advice.
There are some great live chat providers out there which make setting this up very easy. Firehose Chat uses a mobile app that makes receiving and responding to messages as easy as texting. Best of all, it's free.
17 Hats features a live chat box on their website to assist visitors while trialling their software.
Their ability to provide users with instant answers and guidance as they trial the product plays a key role in their ability to convert trial accounts into paying customers.
Promote blog commenting
Investing time into keeping your website blog updated with new content is extremely valuable for both SEO as well as engaging with your customers. Yet many businesses out there overlook the primary purpose of a blog: to spark a discussion.
Visit your website and take a look at your previous blog articles. Do you ask for comments? If not, remember this:
The easiest way to get comments is to ask for them.
Here are some tips to help you encourage participation:
Ask a leading question - Raising a question at the end of your article is a great way to get readers thinking. These questions often surface in the comments.
Be the first to comment - Don't wait for others to comment first, start the discussion yourself and let people know what to talk about.
Value your readers input - Give your readers a voice by welcoming their insights and perspectives. Try telling them: “I’d love to hear what you think about this issue. Let me know in the comments.”
While there are a many strategies and a lot of advice on the subject of website improvement, I have outlined some of the key characteristics that can be easily used to produce swift impactful results. I hope this article has given you some inspiration and direction to get started with fine tuning your website.
So what have I missed? Let me know in the comments what strategies you find effective in promoting website visitor engagement!
Sam Obrart, Web Designer
Web designer at Atomic Marketing. I write about web design, business, Squarespace & SEO. Passionate about travel and entrepreneurship. Feel free to get in touch with me on Twitter!