I work with a lot of DIYers who come to me due to being unsure if what they have in place is “good enough”. As you know, good enough can be subjective. Depending on what your goals are. Subscribers, contacts, orders?
So depending on the goals of the website, what we need to have in place will differ. But there are a few things that we can have in place that will clearly help any website to reach whatever their goals may be.
This post covers some of the things I see quite regularly that site owners can improve upon. Not the technical or design stuff you read about elsewhere. The little things that are overlooked, not necessarily intentionally, many times just because we are not outside looking in.
The Big Picture
One thing I see that most overlook is that we need to make sure we are thinking beyond just what we want. What you want may not be what your site visitors or target market need or are looking for.
This is where the big picture comes in. Here are some questions for you to consider as you make determinations for your site's brand, structure, functionality, content, visuals and terminology.
Are you putting yourself on full full display? As of the writing of this post there are 1.74 billion websites on the Internet. And there is only one you.
People prefer to do business with those they, know, like and can relate to. Use “you” to your advantage by reflecting your personality and style in everything to do with your online presence.
Tell your story, why you do what you do, and how you got there. Let site visitors have a window into your passions and priorities. If everything is equal, you can be the deal breaker.
Have you investigated what terminology is important to talking to (not at) site visitors? Do you even know what those are?
These sets of terms are generally two unique and different sets of terms and phrases. And will produce different results. For example, industry terms and jargon rarely connect to someone unfamiliar with them.
Talking “at” site visitors tends to be what you want them to know. Talking “to” site visitors is what they want to know. Integrate those “to” terms and phrases every step of the way.
No More Than Two Clicks
Can visitors get the info they seek in one or two clicks? Clear concise navigation and calls to action are critical. Simple, intuitive and minimal.
Navigation is tough because we want to cram everything into that limited nav bar real estate. Just resolve yourself to the fact that everything will not fit. This is where prioritizing what site visitors would be looking for comes into play again.
In addition, you want to keep in mind how your navigation will display on mobile platforms. The more navigation you have the less elegant it will be on mobile.
If you have more than one nav bar you want to stick with a structure that most site visitors expect:
- Top of Page Navigation: For pages that rarely change. About, Policies, Contact, etc.
- Secondary Navigation: Blog Categories (aff), Featured Pages
- Footer Navigation: Handful of Core Pages: Privacy, About, FAQ, Contact, etc.
My navigation caters to what I know those who land on my site are looking for. Based on that alone you wouldn't know that within are almost a hundred pages and over one hundred posts within ten categories (aff).
This is where internal linking is so important. Use every opportunity within your content to link to other content that is apropos. This guides visitors to related content and is good for SEO and indexing as well.
If we scroll more than an extra half a page, is the content worth it? Not just because you feel it important. Be honest — is it compelling enough that visitors take the time to actually read and scroll because they feel it is important and valuable.
Writing for the web is a challenge and a skill developed over time. In other words if an article is that important to be thousands of words, think about how you can create in-content navigation and structure it in a way to increase its readability.
This would include clickable navigation lists at the top of the article, subheadings, short sentences and paragraphs. With every word being necessary to the value of the article.
First Impressions Matter
Questions to consider when trying to make that positive first impression with those who will visit your site for the first time…
- When someone lands on your site, what is the take away after 8 seconds? Are you trustworthy? Interesting? Reliable? Worth subscribing to?
- How does your site make visitors feel? Enlightened? Informed? Important? Everything from visuals to your writing personality will contribute to this.
Knowledge is Power
When visitors learn something new and of value, they tend to subscribe, participate and share. Think about your website and make a list of the knowledge you can provide to visitors that they didn’t know before.
What problem(s) are you solving? Knowing the answer to this question will help you to create a site that reaches your target market — and your goals.
Above all, this exercise will help you to structure your site to provide the information site visitors require to gain the confidence that you are qualified and trustworthy.
We shouldn't assume what site visitors will do based on what we prefer they do. This where having simple navigation, that caters to site visitors, and guides them on what the obvious next step should be.
For instance, what will make site visitors know your site is different than any other? There are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of sites for every possible search.
- What makes your site different?
- Is your story unique?
- Why would someone subscribe?
- Is it good enough to share?
Challenging the Status Quo
When it comes to your website it is natural to be self-focused on what message you want to get across from your point of view. The above questions are to get you to think “outside” the box of just creating a website from that one point of view — yours — and that doesn't connect with site visitors.
Don't underestimate the power of putting the work in to create a great site, unique to you that is primarily focused on your site visitors. Keeping these questions in mind every step of the way will help you to do just that.
At your service,