The statistics that reflect the performance of your company’s website have begun to paint a somewhat disturbing picture.
While visits to the site are relatively high, it seems that few of those visiting the site spend more than a couple of minutes there, hardly enough time to fully absorb the message you’re trying to deliver.
With online activity playing such a pivotal role in a business’s struggle to succeed, this is not something you can ignore. What should you do?
Give Us Some Reasons
You’ll first need to pin down the reasons your site is turning off users.
It could be a layout that confuses and isn’t user-friendly, or perhaps the site’s design is flat-out ugly and unappealing.
If the complaints you’ve been hearing are not specific in nature, you and your website team will need to conduct a top-to-bottom examination of the site to see if you can pinpoint what’s wrong.
Here are some key areas to consider:
• Branding – The primary goal of your website is to acquaint online visitors with your company’s brand and the values that you want that brand to represent. Each part of your website should be directed to this end. In your in-house audit of the website as it now exists, carefully look at the site’s component parts to confirm that each in its own way helps users of the site to better understand the company brand and what it represents.
While the many parts of your website can reflect various aspects of your company’s brand and values, collectively they should convey a message that is easily understood. This is no place for clever representations that may be difficult for most users to interpret.
Evaluate each image and each block of text to ensure that they contribute to the overall message you want to convey. If you run across content, images, or other design elements that are confusing or have no place in the context you’re striving to present, get rid of them.
• Visual Appeal – Your website need not be a work of art — although it wouldn’t hurt — but it should be visually appealing so that users enjoy the time they spend seeing all that the site has to offer. Soothing colors and simplicity of design can help to ensure that visitors to the site will like what they see and want to see more.
• Ease of Navigation - Take an inventory of all the features that your company’s website has to offer. Then check out how easily new users can navigate to each and every one of those features. If you find that you have trouble getting from Point A to Point G, for example, then it’s a pretty sure bet that visitors to the site will encounter the same or even greater difficulty.
All of your efforts in creating special features amount to nothing if users have significant difficulty getting to them. Today’s Internet browsers have set a pretty high standard, and if your site doesn’t come up to or exceed those standards, visitors to the site will take their interest and business elsewhere.
• Technical Hiccups – Incredible as it may seem, some companies fail to check out their site on a regular basis, which allows for the intrusion of technical difficulties. For example, a user clicks on a hyperlink on one of the website’s pages, but all he gets for his effort is an error message indicating that the page he wants can’t be found. Although everything else on the site may be working well, that user very likely may be frustrated enough to give up on the website altogether.
Make sure that one or more staff members regularly checks the site for possible technical glitches. Once such problems are found, they can be corrected, hopefully before too many users have been turned away by the site’s lack of functionality.
• Keep It Timely – If you want visitors to your website to take it seriously, show them that you do too by updating the site on a regular basis. Users get turned off when they spot signs clearly indicating that the site was pretty much set up and forgotten or at least very rarely tended to.
All information on the website must be kept current. If you have a News page or section of the site, regularly add up-to-date news reports or even news features to show that you’re staying on top of your site and the developments that affect your business.
Above all, if you have an interactive forum somewhere on the website, reply in a timely fashion to queries from visitors to the site. If you’re not getting much in the way of visitor comments, try to stir up some interest by commenting on a relevant news development or upcoming product introduction just to keep the forum lively.
• Call for Outside Help – Lastly, if you have no web design specialists in house and know little about the subject yourself, you may want to call in an outside specialist who can evaluate your site and draw up a list of recommendations for improvement.
About the Author: Jay Fremont is a freelance author who has written extensively about personal finance, corporate strategy, and social media.