Web Sites Are Built for Visitors … Not Designers
“‘The water sleeps until the great snake.’ These aren’t just drawings, they’re directions. Get me a map!” – Indiana Jones, “Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” Paramount, 2008
We love buzz words. You know, innovation…marketing ROI (Return on Investment)…social media…branding…positioning…differentiation…segmentation. Yeah, they’re all cool; but do you know the words we like better that the boss likes? Sales…customer…customer satisfaction…customer retention! We know, crass…very crass. But we like a paycheck every now and then. Stockholders like results. Vendors like to be paid. Whether you sell online or at retail, the best place to start with our favorite words is with your much- maligned website. Back in the day, people spent buckets of money to make their website elegant. Then, with each new social media solution that came on the stream, the website slipped further and further down the priority list. It wasn’t long before the website was supported by whatever loose change fell off the table. After all, there was important (read sexy, fun) stuff we needed to use to leverage your marketing budget and get that ROI. You know – Facebook page, Printerest stakes, YouTube elegance, Twitter stuff, mobile ads and marketing stuff like that must be better for you because “everyone” is talking about it. The problem is, nothing happens until people come inside and get “served.” As Indie said, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Web designers love to show you their elegant sites and how beautiful the Flash/HTML 5 stuff looks, what artistic videos they have, how gorgeously everything is laid out.
Sorry, but folks aren’t there for the show; they come to a website to get product/service information, to buy and get on with their lives. It’s all about the instant, the moment.
Small Window – People who make their money – Google and other search engine folks – from helping you find the product/service information you need know you don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to slow opening web pages. After four seconds, they begin to leave pretty quickly; and by 10 seconds, they’re not only gone but many will never return. Source – Google
That’s why Google, the people who make their money serving up clicks–and answers 34,000 questions a second, reported:
- Slowing delivery 4/10th of a second reduced searches by 8M a day
- 25 percent of web users search only on their smartphone
- 50 percent of mobile users abandon a site that doesn’t load in 10 sec., 3 out of 5 won’t return
- 79 percent of mobile web consumers use their phone for shopping, 40 percent abandon after 3 sec.
That’s probably why Amazon, which racks up $67 million a day in online sales, estimates they could lose $1.6B in sales with a one-second page delay! Bezo’s team doesn’t focus on being the sexiest site in town…just functional. Of course, the same is true of Craig’s List. Ebay, Twitter, Facebook, Google and a lot of other etailers we could mention. It’s why fastfood does so well. It’s not about ambiance; it’s about eating, getting on with your life. An interesting fact we found when researching this piece was that every year, millions of American’s look for true love in 3- to 8-minute speed-dating sessions. It’s all about getting the information, the answers!
But back to your website. Go to most manufacturers’ websites and they’re works of art. They have:
- Slow-loading product pages which have tons of engineering features, specifications but nothing about how you can use it, benefits to ordinary folks
- Details that are important to everyone (except the customer)
- Videos that are well-scripted, well-shot, well-edited and appealing for the boss but not the customer
- In-site searching that leads you to 10-20 different areas they think you’ll find “interesting”
- Menus normal people can’t find/don’t understand, links that don’t work or take you nowhere
The problem is most people don’t use the tools that are readily available to analyze their sites and traffic. Or, as Indie said looking at the situation, “Leave it to Ox to write a riddle in a dead language.”
Looking, Being Better – If you focus on social media tools because “no one” visits your web site or don’t do anything once they stumble across your site, it’s probably because you don’t spend enough time tuning the site. Today, it’s not enough to build it and they will come; firms need to continually focus on improving the experience. Source – Demandbase
Analytic tools allow you to monitor how your website is doing in terms of visitors, conversions. Google Analytics are free tools that allow you to study your website in detail:
- where visitors come from
- pages they visit
- length of page visit
- which keywords people search to boost your search rangings, be more quickly located
- exactly how people interact with your website
By using the analytics, you can determine which locations and what information resonates with real people (customers), not just the folks with a vested interest in looking good (designers). Admittedly, it’s not very creative work; but it helps you determine the real quality of your site.
Learning More – Free metrics tools are available to help marketing departments analyze information about web site visitors, including not only how they got to the site but what areas they visited and what they wanted to find. The more the company knows about visitors, the easier it is to attract – and reward – more visitors. Source – Demandbase
Just imagine what you could do if you could do if you could understand your visitors and learn more about them. Whooppee!! It’s not really about having 20,000 Facebook Likers or 40,000 Printerest visitors. Instead it’s like Indie said, “You want to be a good archaeologist…” It’s about understanding the people who are important to your company, you – your prospects, your customers.
All About You – The more work companies do in helping web site visitors personalize the site to their individual wants and needs, the more productive (and profitable) the firm’s online presence will become. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember it isn’t about the designer, the person who writes the copy or the person who does the video when it comes to understanding what makes a good or so-so web site. Source – Maxymiser
Businesses – products/services – need to understand more about the quality of leads/sales the website generates. Just remember its quality…not quantity. That means if the website visitor registered with you, what happened afterward? Were you able to turn the suspect into a prospect, a customer? If not, where did you lose them? Why? It could be as simple as not having all of the information immediately available that they want/need to make a purchasing decision.
Do you have:
- Fresh, interesting blogs that give people insight into the company, its business philosophy and insight into product plans/applications
- Fun, interesting, educational videos. Today, more than 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Some of the best and most popular are those that feature industry thought leaders who present critical thinking (TED) and how-tos – how-to install, how-to use, how to troubleshoot, how-to get the most from their products (like OtherWorldComputing). It’s all about being a valuable resource for people looking for you who don’t even know you exist.
- Free stuff is always popular. You know, free information, free ideas, free industry news, free insight into how your developers/engineers evaluate/test/prove products/services before they are offered to consumers.
- Use social media tools such as allowing people to Tweet and post on your Facebook wall, content they can quickly/easily share.
Doing all of the analysis and checking off all the things you need to have to make your web site interesting and useful is great as long as you test the work to see if it resonates with people.
Real People Tests
No, not the guy/gal in the next cube, not your spouse/kid (think they’re going to hurt your feelings?), not the boss (’nuff said). Instead, have people completely unfamiliar with your business determine how quickly and easily they can find specific information that would help them find out about your products/services and maybe even purchase…a couple of your neighbors, the in-law you’re certain isn’t all there. They may tell you as Marion did, “Not like you did any better.” Sure, getting traffic to your landing pages is important; but that isn’t what produces sales and revenue. What you really want to do is improve the customer’s experience and reduce the cost of acquiring the customer, retaining the customer. Do it right and constantly test/review your website personalization and it won’t be long Professor Oxley will say you’ve found the answer, “A portal! A pathway to another dimension!”