So you’ve just got over the Christmas and New Year’s Dinner and eating lots of Sweets and Biscuits that were filling your cupboard shelves and causing you to repeatedly visit the kitchen for more treats, but remember your website needs to bring in sales leads…
Regularly I’m asked what features do I need on my website for it to be successful, well the answer can vary depending on your industry, your products and services, but as a core for most website owners here’s what I’ve found that works well.
1. Home Page, with Immediate Answers
If your customer has to think about what they need to do, or if they have to click or fill something in to simply get answers, you’re going to lose most of them before you have a chance at hooking them in, we’re a society of now. iPhone, iPad, 4G on the go, people want answers now and the faster you show what you do and answer the main questions people ask before they’re your customer, the more likely you are to convert them into a warm lead or a buyer.
With immediate answers you can back this with a clear and engaging call to action, so that in answering your customer’s potential questions you also provide them with a route to buy from you.
The example below shows clear bullet points answering questions above the fold immediately with a video for added conversion success.
2. About Us, with Personality
New customers want to be wowed, instilled with confidence and happy working with you, buying your products and services. It all starts with the about us page when a customer wants to find out a bit more than just your home and products pages. Ever come a across a website with no team pictures, or at the very least a picture of the director? How about a website with no real about us page, just some boring text about when the company started?
Yeah like you, that doesn’t fill me with confidence or excite me.
3. Pricing, what’s the ballpark?
What are the first few things you think of if I say you need new double glazing for your whole house, you think who can I use and then one of your thoughts will turn to the price…
If you don’t show the price, another competitor will.
A great tip is to put the price starting from, this way you can account for add on’s and custom quotes if that’s how your pricing model works.
And if you say every customer is different and we can’t put prices from, then you really need to go and take a hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what am I scared of?
Here’s how unbounce do it, Example: http://go.unbounce.com/pricing/
4. Learning Centre, Educate your customers
Education is a massive value and belief I have. One which constantly comes up on a daily basis from my clients, how do I do this, can you do this if X, Y and Z happen, all questions which are common amongst my clients and questions I answer using eBooks, User guides, Blogs, Videos and other supportive learning materials.
All of these learning materials not only position your company as the experts but it helps to make additional sales without even trying. Ever heard the saying do more than you were paid to do?
Here’s how Moz do it, Example: http://moz.com/learn/seo
5. Video, target the senses of all your visitors
Your customers are creatures of senses, how do you best target those key human senses? VAK, (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic)? You use video… Remember we’re all different and amongst that we all prefer different ways of taking in data, some people like to see things visually, others like to hear and listen to things (podcasts) and then you have other people who like to touch or have a gut feeling about something.
So the solution readily available and growing each day is to use Video with your website. Incorporate videos into your marketing & sales messages, training & help videos and general advice. The potential is limitless and with video you can offer so much more compared to a competitor who chooses not to use video.
The revolution will not be televised, it will be viewed online, from a SMART phone and on tablets!
6. Security, hackers constantly target web servers
One of the regular pains of owning a website is that every now and again you can fall victim to hacks and security breaches. Moreover if you’re running your website on a platform like WordPress, Joomla, Magento or OpenCart these pay the price for their own success. Because of the popularity of these systems and many hundreds of thousands of websites running on these systems, hackers target them for security breaches.
Most of the time Hackers are not personally targeting you they more than often wish to use your website to distribute viruses onto other peoples computers or to use your hosting server to send out mass email spam, this way your server becomes the source and not theirs, which helps to keep them shielded from the authorities.
Anyway enough of the techy talk, what does this mean for you and your website? Keep it updated regularly, make use of the latest security techniques and patches.
Here’s a company that can save you time and money when the sh*t hits the fan: http://sucuri.net/
7. Strategy, a commercial profitable organisation that works without you
The whole point of a website when it comes to business is to create more sales or sales opportunities, right? Well in my world that’s true.
So the key thing with your website is that it should be driven by your marketing strategy, the plan you have to grow your business, which in turn is driven by your, business plan and your Purpose. You know… The reason why you get out of bed in the morning that stretches far beyond your own needs? Yeah that biggie again…
Does your marketing message add real value?
The kind of value that moves your customer to choose you over your competitor even if you’re more expensive? Your purpose will truly separate you from competitors, understand and spread your purpose.
“We live in times of high stress. Messages that are simple, messages that are inspiring, messages that are life-affirming are a welcome break from our real lives.” Simon Sinek
Does it look right, does it feel right does it work right?
This core element is a massive area, so the best thing to do is to break it down and make it simple.
Compare your website to the top 3 competitors or leading companies in your country (lets go big), how does your website stack up? More often than not the leading companies will have good looking websites, because they recognise the power of investing in their marketing as it will directly impact on their sales, plus they usually have the budget to update their websites regularly.
Technology trends and designs move fast, more so now than ever. Keep your design clean, simple and embrace space. There’s a great quote I like which has nothing and everything to do with this when it comes to design…
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Albert Einstein
The thing with this quote is that it has the same meaning when it comes to great website design. If you can design it simply, you will create it well enough.
Here’s how Apple do it, Example: http://www.apple.com/uk/iphone/
Is your website ready for the devices your customers wish to use?
What I mean is, when your customer views your website on a 23” screen does the design respond and adapt to a device that has a 5 inch screen like an iPhone? The point is they’re two different sized devices and obviously your website design will not work the same or even well on both if that is the only option. The solution to this is to adopt a responsive design feature, what this means is that your website has a normal desktop screen size view and that it also has a SMART phone (small device) view, where the buttons are bigger and easy to tap on with your finger and that the smaller responsive design still offers a great navigation experience for your customer.
Google actually grades your website on its ability to deliver in both desktop and mobile formats, see their page speed test for proof; http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ So get on board and take advantage if you haven’t already.
What will your customers expect, is it idiot proof?
The first rule is to keep it simple (KIS). From here you need to make sure its idiot proof, what I mean, even if it’s the first time your customer has landed on your website, make is it so simple they don’t need to think too much to perform some form of action?
A lot of the time technology is miss-used and we over complicate features, when in actual fact a lot of things can be simplified, like entering your name and email for a free PDF eBook – But if you ask for name, email, telephone, passport number etc. you may lose the chance to convert a visitor into a lead purely because there is too much to fill in. Or maybe your submit button doesn’t stand out like a big green button that entices a user to click.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Steve Jobs
You’re up next
So there it is. 10 core elements every great business website needs in 2014. I’d love to know your thoughts on these elements and would also ask what other suggestions would you add?
Thanks for reading,