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Why Some Websites Succeed...and Others Don't

What’s the purpose of your website? When I ask potential clients this simple question, I always get similar answers: to sell products, to increase subscriptions, to generate leads, or to make money. Of course, all these answers are right. But, only partially. They are the result of what happens when your website does what it’s supposed to do. The purpose of your website is to connect with the people you’re supposed to serve. Why? Because the novelty of shopping online wore off a long time ago.

There are now approximately 109 million websites in the world competing for the attention of Internet users. If your website doesn’t connect with them, there’s a website out there that will. And it’s that website that will succeed, and not yours. Here are five things you need to know: 1. It’s all about your customers.

Your website should revolve around your customers. That means everything about your site (design, navigation, content) is a well-thought-out sales process that’s completely relevant to your visitors. So start by analyzing who they are and what motivates them to buy. And, no, that doesn’t mean guesswork. It means identifying them by age, gender, income, education, lifestyle, personality and buying style. 2. It’s not all about search engine rankings. Of course, it’s important for your site to do well within the search engine results but ultimately your goal is to sell more of your product or service. After all, better one visitor and one sale than thousands of visitors and zero sales. When creating your site, put the needs of your customers first then build your site around what they want, not what you think they should have.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t include search engine optimization in your overall plan, just don’t make it your first priority. 3. It’s about clarity not cleverness. You may know what you’re selling, your mother may know what you’re selling, but if your visitors don’t know it from the moment they land on one of your pages, you’re doomed. Try looking at your site from a visitors point of view then ask yourself the following questions: a) Does every page identify the company and/or the product or service? b) Is the site well organized? Does it progressively drive customers toward a sale? c) Is each page headline strong enough to achieve impact? d) Is each image strong enough to achieve impact? e) Is the text easy to read? f) Is the copy well-organized? Does it stress the main and subsidiary benefits of your product or service? g) Is the total physical effect of each page effective in achieving its objective? h) Does the navigation “track” well in leading the visitor logically through the site? 4. It’s about knowing when to opt for cosmetic surgery. Much like us humans, time isn’t kind to websites. They get old, tired and (dare I say) outdated. In addition, as time goes by, pages get added, graphics get changed, and content gets tweaked. Before you know it your site is not only showing its age design-wise, but it’s evolved into a mish-mash of content with no central focus.

Keeping tabs on what’s going on in the online industry, and implementing changes accordingly — even if it means a complete re-design — will help you keep up with your competition. Remember, Internet years may be much, much shorter that human ones, but it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to give a website a facelift than it is to have one yourself. 5. It’s about customer interaction and feedback. Today’s customers have high expectations and low-levels of patience. Gone are the days you can get away without providing your customers with a way of telling you what’s on their mind. If there’s a problem, they want to be able to tell you about it. And, they want you to respond. Better yet, they want ways to interact with you. Then, when you fix their problem, you tell them you care.

For your own business. And for your customers. To your success, Julia.


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