For a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, nirvana is when he not only gets inside the house, but gets to toss a handful of dirt on the floor and then vacuum it up with his super-duper top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner.
If he can keep his prospect’s attention for that long, there’s an excellent chance he’s going to make the sale. Of course, most vacuum cleaner salesmen never get beyond the front door.
The goal and journey is essentially the same with your website. You need to do much more than get visitors to your “door.” You need to guide them on a journey that leads to your call to action. Unfortunately it is easier to fail than to succeed.
Here are five absolute essentials you must understand before you have any decent chance to get a sufficient number of website visitors to your desired “finish line.”
1. Know your visitors. I suspect the great vacuum cleaner salesmen of yore could smell a sale almost immediately. In the same way, you need to understand your prospects and they might not all be the same. Will a prospect coming from an organic search be the same as one coming from an AdWords ad? Or how about a visitor coming from a social media post?
If you’re taking them all along the same path in your website, you could be losing conversions that are there for the taking…with the right user experience.
2. Website design is a multidisciplinary quest. If you don’t read anything more I will offer here, understand this point. An effective website combines graphic design, digital architecture, writing, psychology, computer science, and other disciplines.
Today, many small businesses are being pulled in by do-it-yourself website design services or WordPress themes. I’m not saying that you can’t build a good site with these, but if you think that the only criteria for a good site are pages that “look professional,” you will be very disappointed with the end result.
You need to work with designers and writers who are creative, technically proficient and understand designing for business purposes. Don’t be “wowed” by a beautiful portfolio if none of the sites are effective business websites.
3. You must establish a website flow. Think of your website like the Yellow Brick Road in “The Wizard of Oz.” It needs to clearly take your visitors on a journey. Again, this can be a problem when you’re using pre-defined templates because they already have a design “logic” built into them. You start filling up little boxes rather than strategize a journey you want to take your visitors on.
Depending on what you want your visitors to do at your call to action, the flow might be short or long. This is why we are seeing so many long, single webpages today. Words and images work together to keep the visitor scrolling down.
4. Quality is required for every element that defines your website. Dropping the ball on any of the elements will scuttle the chance you have for success with your site. An automaker wouldn’t hire the world’s greatest designer to come up with a new body style and then stuff it with an old Yugo engine.
The graphics, colors, writing, functionality, speed, and more have to be their best and all be created with their purpose in mind. A highly experienced technical writer won’t do a good job writing copy that sells.
5. Understand that you won’t get it right the first time. In fact, it will never be perfect. I think that every website should always have an Under Construction sign at the top…well, figuratively at least.
You must constantly work to improve the flow and keep visitors engaged and increasingly interested as you lead them to your call to action. Further, design is always evolving. Right now, flat designs that unflinchingly focus on usability are in vogue, so that should be a starting point for you.
Plenty of great products and businesses don’t enjoy the success they should experience because the responsible parties didn’t fully understand what is required for effective web design.
Don’t make that mistake.