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June 23, 2011

What To Do When Your Website Sucks

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Every business, large or small, local or virtual, needs a website. You already know you need a nice looking site with content that is free of typographical and grammatical errors. What you may not know is that in order to create credibility and build relationships with potential and current customers you need the following:

A professional design: You have the option of hiring a web designer who will create a custom design for you, or you can choose a template or theme. Some templates and themes are free, while others are available for a minimal investment.

Consistent navigation: It is normal to have your navigation in more than one place on your website. Perhaps it is on the right side of your page and in your footer; but no matter where it is located, all navigation elements must be identical to prevent your visitors from getting lost!

Visible contact information: Only criminals profit from having their contact information hidden. If you are a virtual company, you do not have to provide an address, but always offer a telephone number and an e-mail address. If your visitors cannot find you, they cannot do business with you.

A list of products and services: Create uncluttered pages with your products or services on them, and give enough information so that readers can decide if they want to purchase from you. Include pictures wherever possible.

Hours of operation: This is critical information for brick and mortar businesses, but it is also important for virtual companies that only work certain hours.

Information about management and staff: Always have an “About Us” page that includes biographies of the owner and key staff. This helps potential customers build a relationship with your company. Include pictures if possible.

A company history: Include this even if your company is new. If your business is well established, include a detailed history. If your business is new, talk about your motivation for going into business and how you plan to help your customers.

A list of current and past clients: This information is critical for establishing credibility. If you haven’t signed your first customer, then offer to do non-profit work for a small business or your church in exchange for listing them on your website as a customer. Don’t make this information up. Potential customers can tell whether you are weaving a story or telling the truth.

A return policy: Establishing and communicating a return policy for products is essential; and it is even required by some local jurisdictions. If you only offer services, you may want to discuss whether or not you offer refunds if a client is unsatisfied.

A privacy policy: This is required by many government agencies, and it is good business to establish how you will handle visitor information and if it will be shared with anyone else.

A way to capture visitor information:
Offer a way to keep in touch with your customers, so you can tell them about upcoming specials, or new products and services. Some people do this by sending out a regular newsletter.

Sitemap: A sitemap has value not only for visitors but also for search engines. Don’t make your visitors feel like they are hunting for treasure when visiting your website. Make your sitemap easy to follow, so it guides your visitors through your site.

If you include all of the above information in your website, then you will be miles ahead of your competition. If you want to go a bit further, consider adding the information below.

Case studies: Tell the stories of what problems your customers had and how you solved them. This works best for companies that offer services, but it might also work for those that sell products.

A Portfolio: If you are an artist or web designer, then a portfolio is a must. Include many examples of previous work to help your website visitor understand what you can create for them.

Search capability: Google makes it easy to add a custom search box to your website. This is especially helpful if your website has many pages.

A Blog: If you like to write, and can commit to posting at least twice a week, then a blog might be for you. Do some research first to discover if this would be helpful for your type of clients.

Capitalize on the investment of time and money you have put into your website by creating something that captures the interest and attention of your visitors. Keep your website up-to-date, and constantly add new information so that your visitors will enjoy the experience enough to want to come back often!


© 2011, Davis Virtual Assistance. All rights reserved. Reprints welcome so long as the article and byline are printed intact with all links made live.

If you need a new website or have one that doesn’t work well, then why not hire someone to help you? Bonnie Jo Davis has created, updated, and managed hundreds of websites, and she can do the same for you. She offers affordable packages for new and existing websites of all kinds. For more information, visit www.your-virtual-assistant.com, or if you are a local business owner, visit www.local-map-listings.com

8 Responses to “What To Do When Your Website Sucks

    avatar Tom Szabo says:

    I read the comment about making “contact” info readily visable on a company web site. Nothing infuriates me more than having to “search” for the contact page. There are several thoughts that come to my mind when I experience this:
    The company wants to hide from customers.
    The company doesn’t want to hear from customers.
    The web designer has no clue!
    If I have a choice I’ll not buy from the company.

    Also, I wish companies would list email addresses for key staff members or departments within their organization. How do I know an email will get to a specific department or person if their is only one blind email address??

    avatar Scott Sellars says:

    How about practice what you preach. Your-virtual-assistant.com actually leads to Cyber-assistant.com which is then just a load of cr@ppy links to other websites.

    LOL

    I agree that having a visible returns policy can be overlooked, but this can be a real conversion boost. It’s one of the tips we have on cutting down on shopping cart abandonment.

    Once a visitor has made their product selection and is into the buying process, a few questions might crop up. Can the item be returned? How long is delivery going to take? Make sure this information is really clear, and not hidden away in some FAQ page. If the visitor doesn’t have this information right in front of them, it’s going to cause frustration and the chances are, they become another abandonment.

    Most definitely you would need to launch an expertly crafted website where people can check out your business. Not all websites attract much attention though and if you dont handle your business website launch properly you might only be disappointed with its performance. The first thing that people will notice upon entering your website is its looks.

    avatar SEO copywriter says:

    Don’t forget that once you’ve built an engaging user-friendly website you need to drive traffic to your handiwork. Search engine optimisation or SEO is one of the single most valuable investments you can make in getting your website working its hardest. And ensuring all your website overhaul efforts pay off.

    avatar Website copywriter says:

    I’ve seen plenty of great looking websites let down by sub-standard content. It’s worth investing in a professional copywriter and photographer to make a persuasive argument for why your product/service deserves their attention.

    And when you are writing content, taking good photos, and creating the overall design – remember one thing. The client has a responsibility to furnish all the information you need and to take some responsibility for working with the designer to make sure everything is in there. Not only do you want to put yourself in the client’s shoes, but also in their site visitor’s shoes. It is impossible to accomplish this when you have a client who takes the “here it is … DO IT!” attitude. If you visit my company blog, you’ll see several pages that talks about client responsibilities. I even added a page talking about designer responsibility, for the sake of fairness and balance. Computer Publishing Concepts Blog</a?

    Another thing about blogging – make sure it is also optimized to be found in search engines. You will be surprised at how often one of your blog posts will show up along with the web site’s listings. And make sure you have a link to a web site you have done, or to articles and people who have advice you can learn from. Having these links will make it easier for people to find the information they need, or if the blog is about just launching a web site, help your blog visitor find the actual web site. Photos and videos can also help reinforce the information you are blogging about. And keep your blogs to one subject at a time. If your blog contains more than one subject, it might confuse the reader. And a good benchmark limit for the number of words is around 600, give or take a few words. And always have a place on every blog where people can write responses. You want that kind of interaction!

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