Yes, a website must look good, as a poorly designed site can turn off visitors. They can click away in seconds. Strange or busy backgrounds, stark colors, and other things that clash on the site are a problem. In analyzing websites for effective lead or business generation, here are some of the problems marketing experts found:
1. Focus on YOU: Particularly on consulting, professional, and real estate websites, the large photo of the site owner in the header is not a business generator. The place for that is on the About or About Me page, not dominating the top of every page on the website. It takes up valuable space before the visitor must scroll down that could be used for much more important content for business products and/or services.
2. The huge header image: This is the same thing. Many real estate agents like to have a huge photo of a home at the top of their sites as the header. The same goes for any business that may put a huge photo of the business or their top product as the header image taking up a quarter or more of the screen. It wastes valuable “above-the-fold” space. That term comes from the old newspaper days when the most important content and headlines were placed above where the paper folded in half.
This way the important news was visible when the paper was on the newsstand. On the Web, this fold is the place where the visitor must start scrolling. They don’t see what’s below that space unless they scroll down. It varies by viewing device, but it should be one of your most important considerations in site design. Keep the most important content above the fold, and a picture isn’t usually the best use of that important space.
3. Poor site navigation: These are the tabs or links along the top or side of the site to direct visitors to the information they want. Even if they arrive from a search on the page with relevant information, they may want to know more. When they can’t see a quick link to get to their information, they leave and seek it elsewhere. Top navigation is usually best, as side navigation can result in some of the items being below the scroll fold. Sorry, but you must pander to the lazy and impatient site visitors.
Navigation that doesn’t break out the content on the site logically in the ways your visitors will think of your business is going to cost you business. If you’re a widget manufacturer, are there major categories of widgets that customers think about when buying your products? Using drop-down navigation, under those major categories can be sub-categories so that they immediately see what they want when they mouse over the tab. You should always strive to give visitors a path to their final destination that’s less than three, and preferably less than two clicks from where they are on the site.
4. Relevant calls-to-action placed well: When a visitor comes to your site on a search for “blue widgets for sale,” do they find great content about blue widgets on the landing page when they arrive? If you need an order, or if you need their contact information for further marketing, what is there on that landing page to get what you want? Have an order form or a special content offer form to get their email address, and make sure it’s above the fold.
If you change your website to adapt to these four issues, you’ll immediately see an increase in your business, and it really isn’t a major job to make these changes.