Launching a website takes us all close to the edge.
We spend so much time getting every pixel just right. It becomes a mild obsession. There are late nights, moments of frustration and maybe even a few tears. It’s a real labour of love.
Finally, the day arrives where you can fiddle no more. It’s time to launch. You spread the word and wait for the enquiries to start flooding in.
While your bounce rate is high, the enquiries are low. All that time, effort and money, for nothing.
The problem is, most entrepreneurs and small businesses make the same mistakes when launching a website, without even realising. They focus on the wrong elements and crucial things are missed. Let me tell exactly what those mistakes are, and what you should be doing instead.
1. Make It Obvious Who You Are
When a visitor lands on your website, they should know exactly what business they’re looking at.
When it comes to website branding, subtlety just won’t do. You need to show brand consistency, making sure you’re using the same brand identity as you do on all your online and offline platforms, including logo, colour palette and fonts.
This is especially true on the homepage, which is the most commonly viewed page on your website.
Don’t try to be clever with your layout. Make sure your logo is in the navigation bar, use only your branding colour palette and make sure your fonts match the look and feel of your overall brand.
2. Make It Clear What You Do
We might think that our website makes what we do obvious, but often we’re too close to our business to realise that it’s not actually that clear.
We either use too specific, jargon filled language, or conversely, wishy washy, non-committal language. Both are unhelpful to website visitors.
The first thing your visitors read, your homepage headline, should clearly and simply express what your business is all about. This ‘unique value proposition’ makes you stand out from your competitors and tells people they’re in the right place. Get this right, and they will happily scroll down to find out more. Get it wrong and your bounce rate will be sky high.
3. Speak Directly to Your Ideal Client
When people end up on your homepage they need to quickly see, and read, that you can solve their specific problem. You’ve successfully got them onto your website; now the hard part is making them feel at home.
In order to know what to say, you need to know who you’re speaking to. This makes having an ideal customer profile (or super customer, or whatever you like to call them) absolutely essential.
Once you know your ideal customer inside out, you’ll know their biggest problems and exactly how to solve them. Then you can tell them all about your solutions, on your website.
4. Don’t Talk About Yourself Too Much
I’m going to be completely honest with you. When a visitor arrives on your website, they don’t want to know about your degree. They really aren’t interested in how you bought your first home. Your life story is not important to them.
If you put this stuff on your homepage, you’re doing nothing but distracting your new visitors. Before you start telling your story, you need to tell them how you can solve their problems. They are busy, and their attention is being pulled in all directions. You need to grab it, fast!
5. Prove that Your Offering Works
You can tell your audience anything you like about your business, but they need externally proof; specifically, ‘social proof’.
Otherwise known as testimonials or reviews, these statements from previous clients add to the ‘know, like and trust’ factor. Adding a selection of people who can vouch for you to your homepage gives your business authenticity.
Before launching a website, ask your existing clients for short, specific testimonials. This will show potential customers that you can help them reach their goals, too.
6. Use the Right Images
Regardless of what you write, the first impressions of your website will be formed based on the images that you use. That’s just how the human brain works.
Your images need to show what you do, but also the problems that you solve. Show your new visitors the solution you deliver; make them feel safe and in the right place.
Are you a business coach for women? Show an image of a smiling woman, happily working. Do you make beautiful gifts? Show a delighted receiver enjoying your products.
Make sure your images represent your ideal customer and the transformation you promise.
7. Get Rid of Long Blocks of Text
When I talk about user experience in web design, I often say ‘people are lazy’ when it comes to text. This is an oversimplification to make a point.
People aren’t lazy, they’re busy and reading online takes more brain power than reading in print. As a result, your website visitors will only read 20% of text on a page, and they’ll read in a specific pattern.
This scanning means that long blocks of text will be skipped over, because they’re too much work. To make sure your most important points are read, use as little text as possible and break up your long blocks of text into shorter paragraphs of three or four lines.
8. Ask People to Take Action
There’s no room for subtlety on your website. You need to tell your visitors exactly what you want them to do.
Be it ‘BUY NOW’, ‘LEARN MORE’ or ‘ENQUIRE NOW’, you need to make that instruction to take action the most obvious thing on your homepage. Guide them through your website to take the action you want. Add a call to action on every page so there is no confusion about where to go next.
A lack of a call to action is the number one reason websites fail. Make this one change and it hugely improve your website’s results.
9. Let People Keep in Touch
You’re pumping out quality content which is getting loads of website traffic. Awesome! But what now? Even if those visitors are interested in your offerings, they’re unlikely to be ready to buy the first time they visit your site. Or even the second. Or third.
According to this 2017 Episerver report, 92% of consumers will visit a brand’s website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase. Keeping in touch with these new visitors is vital in order to nurture them into becoming clients and customers.
The best way to do that is to provide them with the option to ‘sign up’. This could be encouraging them to follow you on social media, join your email list or enable push notifications.
Or even better, ask them to do all three.
10. Make Sure Your Navigation isn’t Confusing
I’m going to keep this one pretty simple; you don’t need every single page in your menu bar.
You only need your main pages, and strong call to actions in your page content to guide your visitors to the pages you want them to visit.
Keep your page names simple. You might want to tailor some clever headings on each page, but the names in your navigation need to be simple and obvious.
Keep your navigation where your visitors would expect it to be; at the top and bottom of your pages. Don’t overcomplicate things and your visitors will be much happier to stick around.
11. Make Your Site Mobile Responsive
Over half of worldwide website traffic now comes via mobile and this figure is increasing every year.
It therefore goes without saying that your website absolutely must be mobile responsive, to allow users the best experience and stop Google from penalising your search results.
The core WordPress software is perfectly geared to mobile responsiveness, but the theme you choose (or custom coding in place) will be the thing that really determines the way your site appears on mobile devices.
The key take-away on this point; check your website on every mobile device you can get your hands on.
It can be easy to overlook things when you’re launching a website. Set aside an hour this week to do a website review. Go through this list point by point to see if you’re making any of these mistakes.
The quicker you can correct them, the quicker your site can really start working for you.
Which of these ways are you going to improve your website? Have I missed anything out?