Looking back at one of my past blogs I talked about your personal brand and how important it was. We don’t put on clothes in the morning that don’t fit right or have stains in all the wrong places. We are careful in how we look so that we project the right image. Basic stuff right? If it is so basic, then how is it that so many companies do such a crappy job of how they look on line for the whole world to see?
If I’m in the market for a television, choosing a place to eat or seeing what movies are playing at my local theatre, I go online. Today, there are more than 2.4 billion internet users, and more than 70 percent of them are online each day, according to The Cultureist.
If people want to learn about you or your company, doesn’t it stand to reason that they are going to look for you on the Internet? The answer is so obvious, yet terrible websites being hosted by people in the mattress industry are rampant.
What are you trying to accomplish with your website? Are you trying to help people in the shopping phase of buying a bed or are you simply using it as an opportunity to market AT people? How much time do you spend each month reviewing load times, time spent on site, bounce rates, conversion points, conversion rates, social-engagement levels, or something as simple as traffic numbers?
Yes, I’m talking to all you small- and mid-sized businesses out there. And don’t tell me you can’t afford to hire a high-dollar consulting firm to come in and work with you—there’s so much information available for free that you should already have the basics down pat.
To be clear, I don’t think the lack of focus here is because people don’t care. I think it’s because they don’t understand the gravity of it and they’re flat afraid of the Internet, because they don’t understand how things work. They’re not willing to learn about how to position themselves any better than where they are today. Your website matters, and if you’re serious about your business, you need to get on the stick.
Here are a few basic things to avoid when it comes to creating or improving your website:
Everything should begin with a solid strategy. Get with your team and fully understand—so you can effectively execute—what you want the site to do, what’s most important for function and design, and how you are going to measure results. This should get you started, but make sure to have the key people who will be working on the site or benefiting from the site so that you can build it right the first time. Don’t build first and sell it in later. You will regret it.
For the most part, your website should help you grow your business, so be clear on how you are going to do that. Can you generate leads? Can you offer free information that’s valuable enough to exchange for their contact information? Can they order right from your site, or can you direct-link them to a place where they can ring your register? Be intentional when you design your site; understand how you can create an actionable item that delivers sales.
Be certain that SEO and graphic design intersect at the right place. We’ve had many debates about the site looking good versus being optimized for SEO. (By the way, if you don’t know what SEO is by now, look it up.) These two things can and do work in tandem just fine, so avoid the problem of someone telling you that it has to be either/or.
Optimize for mobile from day one. Thirty-eight percent of all Internet traffic happens on mobile devices, so be sure your content appears the way you’d want it to on your phone.
Post useful, sought-after content. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and make sure that you are serving up the information that they are looking for and that they can find it in a single click if that is possible.
If you’re a CEO, or if you run a business unit at a larger company, and have a website, you need to figure this all out. If you don’t understand how your website is contributing to your business, then you shouldn’t be in charge. It’s the Internet, for crying out loud. Take some time out to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and look at it through their eyes. You might be surprised at what you find. Grade your company and your web presence. Is your design right and does it deliver the goods?
BONUS: If you want to feel a little better about yourself, you can always visit this site that features the worst websites from 2013.