|| The Top 5 Most Important
Things Every Website Should Have
(+ 6 Sure Fire Tips)
Whether your business does $10,000, $100,000, or $10,000,000 in weekly online sales, there are only 5 things that really matter on your website. Focus your time and attention on them to make sure they are performing correctly. And, "correctly" means what is best for the user, not what is necessarily best for you, your boss or even your CEO for that matter. Having been involved in literally thousands of usability studies to observe how people use the Internet, I have come to the conclusion that a successful site must have the following ...
1. An entry page that quickly involves the user
According to the latest statistics, over three quarters of website exits occur on the entry page. Why? Because users can't find what they want easily or they aren't drawn in by what they see. You have just a few seconds to satisfactorily answer the who, what, why, where, and when questions and prompt an action on the part of the user. This requires thoughtful page design based on eye path, standard navigation elements and direct marketing principles.
As Peter Spiers from Elderhostel once said, “Your entry page is like the lobby of an emergency room. Nobody with an urgent need wants, or can afford to, hang around in the lobby, they need to figure out where they need to go and FAST! Time is of the essence.”
If your entry page is doing its job correctly, users will visit it 2.8 times on average. Yep, that’s right. The sites with the highest conversion often see higher-than-normal repeats on the page they entered in on. Why? Well, nobody really knows but the theory is that it gives the user high comfort level.
2. Navigation that is easy and familiar
Approximately 60% of the success of your website is directly related to its ease of navigation. Users want to know how to find things quickly. They want to know where they are at all times. And, they want your site to "feel" like other sites they are comfortable visiting.
3. Streamlined inquiry forms and shopping carts
With email sign-up you have the opportunity to start a conversation with the user by inviting him to receive regular emails or newsletters. Don't turn him off by asking for too much information. And when he's ready to purchase from you, don't make the process so confusing he bails out, leaving merchandise in his shopping cart.
4. Proactive targeted email programs
Proactive emails to qualified lists can serve as effective one-to-one messages. Use outbound emails to acquire new customers, increase order frequency, convert prospects to customers. Follow-up the sale with confirmations and customer service information or special offers on specific products.
5. New customer acquisition through SEO and PPC
The most beautiful website on the Internet is useless if no one can find it. Whether you like it or not, search engines like Google and Yahoo are the gatekeepers and you have to know how to play by their rules using Search Engine Optimization or buy your way to the top with Pay-Per-Click advertising.
+ 6 Sure-Fire Tips
1. Know what your primary goal is.
There are many good reasons for having a Web site, but there are only two that really count: generating inquiries or generating orders. And it’s difficult, if not impossible, to do both. Make sure you know what your primary goal is, then design your home page around that ONE goal. A lot of people think this sounds rudimentary and then when you look at their sites, you realize that their site goes for the order, goes for the inquiry, has a ton of space allocation for customer service and for the press. That’s four goals, not one.
2. Capture more e-mail addresses
If your primary goal is to generate inquiries, the more you ask for their e-mail address, the more e-mail addresses you’ll capture. Ask for e-mail sign-ups via free newsletter and Web special sign-ups, contact us and "give us your thoughts" links, technical bulletin and software download offers, and so on. Companies have spent millions of dollars on extensive testing to find out that the best place for your primary e-mail sign-up box is in the top of the left-hand navigation bar.
3. Develop killer navigation.
There are three kinds of navigation your site should have: top navigation, left-hand navigation and bottom navigation. The top navigation tells your customers what they are supposed to do at your site, whether it be to order or inquire. Top navigation topics that work include Web specials, auction areas and free catalog buttons. The left-hand navigation is your index information — it tells your customers what’s in your store. Your left-hand navigation should include both your subject categories and your information items (100 percent satisfaction guarantee, for example.) Keep your descriptions short, to the point and make sure they lead your customer through your site in a logical, step-by-step fashion. The bottom navigation repeats the items in the top navigation and includes your site map, privacy statement and contact information links. Once you develop great navigation, it should not change. (Customer familiarity is primarily based on navigation and the look/colors of your site.)
4. Develop a solid search function.
This is, by far, one of the most difficult parts of building a site, so if you don’t have the time or resources to do it right, consider private labeling one of the programs that’s already out there. (Whatever you do, don’t send people off your site into someone else’s search function.) Your search function should be intuitive, easy to use and it should always present your customer with alternative choices for items not found.
5. Use provocative self-banners throughout your site.
Self-banners work just like regular banners but instead of promoting other people’s products and services, they promote yours. Your self-banners will work best if they stand out from the rest of your home page. And they’re meant to look like mini-advertisements, so bright colors (like yellow and red) and simple animation tend to work best. You should use at least two self-banners per page — one on the top and one on the bottom of your site. Rotate the banners according to your traffic patterns.
6. Sell! Sell! Sell!
If the goal of your site is to sell (as opposed to collecting inquiries) it’s important that you start selling immediately on your home page. Customers should be able to buy and get more information on each of the products that are listed for sale on your home page. If you are collecting inquiries, your job is to “sell” inquiry generation – meaning all roads should point to your lead form.
Case Study Prepared by:
Eight by Eight
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