Website 101

I want to go back to basics this month, and ask you to look at your website, and its purpose. What may seem obvious is often masked by the ‘technology’ aspects of a site – CMS, SEO, homepages, navigation, etc.

Is the website there to sell, to inform, to reach new markets... do you have a real, documented plan? Or does the website merely explain (in your own words) your products, your services, and how many square feet your warehouse covers? That’s generally not good enough.

So... to my point. Too many SME websites (and some larger ones) fail to communicate any real purpose – and as a result turn out to be costly (or cheap!) white elephants. Who IS the customer? What does he/she WANT or NEED to know? These websites often ramble on with often inconsequential statistics, ‘me-too’ claims or clichés and under-developed messages.

This is usually down to a number of factors. So let’s quickly address them...

1. Do YOU know your customer or target audience, do you understand why they visit your website? If not, take some time out to think about this – and write it down!

2. Do YOU know how your website stacks up against your competitors? Do they have a clear homepage proposition? Do they segment their customers? Take a few moments to note (and print-out) competitor sites. Be aware when they have changed (that is – improved!)

3. Does your website copy (the text) get the message across efficiently? Lots of websites are written by an owner/manager – which in our experience is ineffective at least half of the time. You are probably too close to your business to write objectively from your customer viewpoint. Ask your customers whether your website reads well, does it differentiate you from your competition? Hire a copywriter, who in under a day could update drab blurb to crisp, compelling copy!

4. Finally – address your call to action. This is fundamental – make sure your phone number is clear, an enquiry form is easy to use, or your shopping cart slick. My advice is test, test, test!

Take an afternoon to address these points, and I’m confident that you will see action points, and reap the benefits.

Leon Calverley