I remember the day I heard sales expert Jill Konrath say, “If your website sucks, it’s hard to sell.” She was addressing a room full of marketers and business owners at Minbound. Without hesitation, the room filled with applause.
In one sentence, Jill had uncovered the largest pain point most sales and marketers have—they can’t do their job because their website sucks.
I have spent nearly half of my life helping companies build websites that achieve results (including Jill Konrath’s site). Sadly my reality is we redesign websites that suck everyday, and that problem has kept my company in business for 19 years.
THINGS NEED TO CHANGE!
It’s frustrating to me because the stakes are too high for a business to get it wrong. A website is considered the #1 sales and marketing asset a company has. Yet I’ve heard far too many horror stories from marketers, sales teams and CEOs who find themselves with a website that doesn’t help them achieve their goals—and that’s impossible for them to use.
To get a website that works, companies must do their proper due diligence before diving into a website redesign. That involves talking to their customers, reading reviews, asking a ton of questions and making sure your personality connects with the redesign team.
Here are six questions to ask as you prep for your next website re-design:
1. Who are you building this website for?
If the answer is you or your business, you are not in the right mindset. You need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer. What do they want? Need? How can you help them answer their questions?
Jot down and identify their pain points and needs. This list will help you keep on track to establishing and thinking about your user throughout their entire journey. Remember: Successful websites put the needs of users ahead of their own.
2. Why do people visit your website?
The most common answer to this question is, “To buy from us.” Unless your company is Amazon, this is not the correct answer. All site visitors have needs. Don’t get caught up in the idea of only generating new business and forget about your existing customers, vendors and future employees.
The issue most companies have when building their website is that they get fixated on lead generation—this is a dangerous mindset that can negatively impact your bottomline.
Understanding “why” people visit your site will help you establish clearer paths for your users to achieve their goals. You should develop content based on their needs on a page-by-page basis, and have clear directional paths to get them to the next step on their terms. Don’t be afraid to go deep with content, if it will help a user achieve their goal.
3. When you read your website content, does it sound like you?
You have to read your copy out loud and ask yourself, “Is this our voice?” If you are edgy, your copy can be. Never try to be someone you are not—your users will see right through that.
There is an art to writing web copy. You need to also consider where the user is at in their buying journey. Less is usually more on shallow pages, however with the more clicks in, the user is diving deeper (and trying to learn more) so content should also be more thorough. Remember: If the content is relevant and helpful, it needs to be there.
4. Does your website design appeal to your site visitors?
Humans hate to admit it, but we all judge the websites we visit (and sometimes without really realizing we are doing it). In fact, the top reason people think a website sucks is because they don’t like the way the site looks.
Our brains go through a very quick process when we see things for the first time. How your website looks will play a key role in how your users perceive and value your brand. If a brand looks as expected, most people will move forward. If not, our brain signals “danger,” and most will leave. Anyone with vision is impacted by the look of your website—as it is the visual cortex part of your neocortex that helps a person think, based on what they see.
5. How will you define or measure the success of your new website?
This is a question that most people have a difficult time answering. Most default to revenue—however, producing revenue is a common goal marketing and sales already have (so scrap that). To determine the success of a website, you have to dig a little deeper.
Begin with creating a connection with people on their level, be mindful of their experience and help them achieve whatever it is they want today. If you invest in their experience, they should feel the connection naturally. Remember: When a user achieves their goals, a company typically achieve theirs.
6. What story does the live website data tell?
Too many companies scrap their website without fine tuning it. This is an important step. Look at real time user interaction and behaviors on your current site. This is where quantitative data becomes relevant and helpful.
Your real time data will be your best navigator on what to do next. Try not to form opinions too quickly or on feelings, and don’t be afraid to let the data guide you. Remember: The best websites are never done. If you keep that top of mind, I am confident that you will build a website that gets results.