A friend of mine recently drafted a website for a product he is launching, and asked me to have a look before publishing it. Not a great thing to be doing, as by the time I had finished commenting, he had tuned out. There was just too much bad news.
There are millions of websites out there, so the question now is not just how to get your website seen by those to whom it is targeted, but how do you then get them to take some sort of action, without which, it all has little point.
A few simple rules
Clarity of purpose. Ensure it is crystal clear what you do, in essence why the site exists. The simpler the better, remove all the detail, all the jargon and fancy words, opting instead for simple statements and graphics that illustrate why you are there.
What problem do you solve. Customers buy solutions to problems, not products. The purchase of everything from the groceries to expensive luxuries are in some way connected to a problem, real or perceived that the customer has. Tell them which one you are solving, how, and why they should buy from you.
They are not interested in you. Almost every site has an ‘About us’ page. It is useful to give some background, demonstration of expertise, and how you care deeply about the ‘bilbies’, but less is more. People are interested in you only to the extent that it confirms their decision to purchase from you. The fact that your grandfather who founded the business was apprentice of the year in 1935 is supremely irrelevant, as are the awards you may have won in 2000.
Demonstrate that your solution works. This can take many forms from testimonials to statistics and demonstrations, but is an important component of building trust and credibility.
Have a designer design. The look of a site says a lot about you, and it is a designers job to interpret the important things visually. The choice of images, layout, use of white space, location of icons of various types are all done better by a pro. It does not have to cost a lot, and most of those who design websites who may be good technically are not necessarily good at visual and creative design. The bit of extra investment is almost always well worth it.
Tell them what to do now. Ask for the action you want a visitor to your site to take. Download something, watch a video, follow a link, whatever it may be, make it clear, easy to do, and ask.
My friend was sorry he asked, but a week or so later, showed me a way better version that will now be published as a part of his product launch in a few months.