There are three major things I see on websites right now that could so easily be modified to give the person viewing your site a far better experience. And they are removing the unnecessary clutter, reducing the amount of stuff that has to load each time, and providing a clear, frictionless journey through your site.
When we are running our own businesses, we tend to be quite passionate about them. And for of us that passion manifests itself in a major case of tl;dr – or too long, didn’t read. What this means is, that, we are so close to our business, that we’ll carry on and on and on and on about it. Try dating someone who works in the creative or presentation areas of a radio or TV station and you’ll know what I mean. They find every aspect and facet of their work or business so fascinating that they have little else to talk about, forgetting that few people find what they do as fascinating as they do. This is the same with small business. Whilst we are immersed in the world of our business, our customers aren’t. Your website is a place for your customers to easily find what the need to address a problem that they’re having. They are likely uninterested in your family history, long pathway to success or philosophical positions. When you change the position of your website from a tool promoting your business, to a tool that solves problems for your potential customers, you become part of the solution for a customer, not just another self-absorbed promo-fest. We’ll cover more on this at another time, but it comes down to reducing the big blocks of endless text on your site. While Google likes a solid amount of readable text on your site, it also likes it when you get to the point and deliver the answer someone is looking for.
Next, improving your site involves streamlining what is on it. We covered text, but now, perhaps more importantly than text is the multimedia part of your site. No one ever bought a product because of the giant video on the home page. Or because of the Facebook Like box on the sidebar of every page. Or because of the multicoloured unicorns and flames that run around the edges of your site. For everyone of these elements, you’re adding to the loading time of your site. Slow sites perform terribly on Google search results, and that will only get worse over time. There is no place for a Facebook Like box on any website. And while a feed of your beautiful Instagram photos is attractive, it’s adding no value to the ability of your site to be found on search. In fact, Instagram feeds are notorious for slowing websites down, so if you have to have one, whatever you do, don’t put it on the front page of your site. Embedded YouTube videos should be kept at a minimum as well. Limit yourself to one on your home page only, and if you want a page of them, have a separate page of them. Or display a graphic of the video with a link to the video itself on YouTube so you’re not slowing down your own website to display something that is playing from somewhere else.
Finally, if you have ads online that point back to your site, make sure that the link on the ads goes to the exact page on your site that deals with what the ad was talking about. Ads that point to home pages of websites are the least effective kind of ads, because home pages are like the jack-of-all-trades part of a website. They focus on nothing on particular because they are the page that should be leading you to somewhere else where everything particular is. Which brings me to the home page. This page needs to be clear, concise and able to lead a person to where they are most likely to go. Vague branding statements and weird buzzwords aren’t clever, they’re stopping your potential customer from getting what they want quickly. Your website isn’t an experience for someone to be immersed in, unless you’re Netflix. Your website has only a few purposes. To lead someone to contact you, to buy from you or to put you on their list of options to solve their problem. Anything on your home page that doesn’t lead to, or provide these things is fluff and is getting in the way. Buttons, menu items that use real world words and recognisable directions, and clear, common English are what defines a good, easy-to-navigate and useable website for the vast majority of users – and customers.
Cutting the text clutter, removing all the unnecessary images and videos and providing a clear, easy path to get from any page to the page someone needs is what makes a website truly usable and truly great. And most of these things can be done by your on your own website, but I’d recommend getting in touch with your web designer and running these ideas past them. As designers they tend to get very caught up in vagaries like look and feel. But they are also users of websites themselves, and will understand that a website isn’t made to highlight their aesthetic, but to deliver success to your business.