So you’ve got your lovely new website and it looks glorious – just what you wanted. It showcases your products or services beautifully, announces to world how fabulous you and your business are, and you’ve spent a fortune on search engine optimisation so it’s sitting proudly at the top of page 1 in Google.
But six months on and no-one’s buying your stuff!
How can that be? It’s not what you’re selling because you know that you’re the best at what you do, bar none.
Is it your prices? Can’t be that – your prices aren’t on your site, but you’re not even getting any enquiries.
And you know you’re getting visitors to the site because Google analytics tells you that you are.
So what’s the problem? Where’s it all going wrong?
Well let me let you into a little secret: there’s a lot more to web design than making a good- looking website.
You need to get into the mind of your customer – think the way that they do, about what they want, about what their problem is and how you can solve it. And once you’ve got your head round that, you need to think about how you can make it as easy as possible for them to buy your stuff.
And that’s the basis of good web design: making it as easy as possible for your customer to buy what you’re selling.
But it’s not easy thinking like a customer, mostly because you’re far too close to your own business, so let me share what I think are the most important things you can do to get your generating the business that you need.
Step 1: sit back and think long and hard about what you want your website to achieve
Don’t fall into the trap with this one of thinking that you want it to ‘advertise your business’ or ‘sell your stuff’. You need to be a lot more precise about that.
Think instead about your targets for the next three, six or twelve months. What are they?
If you’re a coach or a consultant you may want more clients, but what’s the target you’ve set yourself to generate more interest in what you offer? Would you like to book in more free consultations? Or get more people to attend our workshops?
If you sell widgets, do you want to sell more of all of the 1000s of widgets you sell? Can you focus it down to a category of widgets, or even just a single widget? Maybe the one with the highest profit margin? Or the one that you overbought so it’s taking up precious space in your storage room?
You may, of course, have more than one target, but for now let’s stick to a maximum of four. Once you have your top four pick one – yes, just one.
If you can make your top target the first button that people see when they load your website then that’s the one they’re more likely to click.
Have a look at an ecommerce site like Sainsbury’s and you’ll see what I mean. As I write this (Spring 2018) this is the first image I see:
We’re in spring now so they’ll be having a big push to sell all the stock of summer clothing they’ve bought.
And look at the button too – ‘Shop now’. It’s in a different colour to the rest of the screen so that it really stands out, it’s clear about what it wants you to do, and with a single click it
takes you to their online clothing store. They couldn’t have made it much easier for their customers, could they?
So what about your other three targets?
Keep them on your Home page, just put them a little lower. Again, looking at Sainsbury’s, if you scroll down the screen the next thing you see are links to all their other services, which are still important, just not as important as their summer clothing line:
Step 2: make sure that your website is clear about its purpose and what your business or organisation is about
This is one of those areas where there can be a bit of conflict between design and usability. Although good, innovative design is exciting and attention-grabbing, you have to be careful that you don’t sacrifice usability for innovation.
Have a look at this one for example:
If you go to the website you’ll see that the boxes spin around the man’s head, yet there’s nothing to say what the site is about or what they want you to do, other than the menu options.
Look carefully and you’ll see they offer degrees and they want you to apply now, but you have to dig quite a long way into the site to see that it’s for the University of Advancing Technology.
Compare it to this one:
Just a millisecond glance and it’s all there – Newcastle University selling their MBA courses, looking for help with research, and encouraging people to look for a course. In just a few weeks’ time I expect that page to change radically, probably in favour of advertising Open Days.
Step 3: ditch the ‘Welcome’ text that tells everyone how wonderful you are
You’re wonderful, I know you are, and I know you’re absolutely the best at what you do. But your product is so great that you don’t need to tell people about yourself, at least not by taking up valuable selling space on your Home page.
Take the Welcome text, shift it to your About page where your visitors can find it if they’re interested, and leave the Home page free for showcasing your fantastic products and services.
Step 4: make sure that all of the important information is where your visitors expect it to be
What you’re aiming for in your website is to make it so that your visitors have to think about their actions as little as possible.
For example, the reason contact information is always top right, or in the footer, is because that’s where people expect it. If you move it away from those areas to, say, a box in the centre of the page, it might look fabulously innovative but by removing it from where people expect it means they’re going to have to search for it, taking their time and their focus away from simply buying your product.
Step 5: remember that people don’t read web pages, they skim them
You need lots of copy on your website, you really do. You need it to be keyword rich so that Google can read it and work out what your site is about, and you need the detail there so that if anyone does want to find out what you do in more detail, it’s there for them.
But it has to be easy for them to find out what they need to know, so you need to break your text down into manageable chunks with lots of good headings.
Have a look at the Alzheimer’s Society’s description of symptoms to see what I mean. The page is just a masterpiece in web readability.
It has links to all the information you need at the top:
Then further down you can see the main symptoms listed as nice, clear bullet points:
And further down again you get headings for sections giving more details about later stages and other types of dementia:
So that’s it really: all you need to do is to keep your customer in mind
Think about what they want to do, what you want them to do, and make it as easy as possible for them to do it.
And if you want any more information, please feel to contact me, Jackie Latham, whenever you wish. You can find my own website at https://jackdawwebdesign.co.uk
Hello, I’m Jackie, founder and owner of Jackdaw Web Design, and I’ve worked in IT since before Windows was a twinkle in Bill Gates’ eye.
I have been in IT for my whole career, starting as a COBOL programmer with the DHSS in 1986, then joining British Airways after a short stint at Newcastle University. While at BA, I ran the team which looked after the corporate intranet – a large website with over 50,000 regular users, and many webapps from payroll to cabin crew check-in.
I started building websites on a part-time basis in 2013, so when I took voluntary redundancy in 2015 it was a logical step to becoming a full time web designer, so Jackdaw Web Design was born.
I am a member of the British Computer Society and you can see my LinkedIn profile