Treat Your Website Like Your Online Office

We've all been to those websites where you're not really sure what the message is the company is trying to get across.  Maybe you clicked a link to an article and find yourself on a page with more clickbait than actual text.  Perhaps you are trying to locate an address or phone number to quickly contact the business, and you find yourself wasting more time hunting for what you're looking for than you initially intended.  I don't know about you, but I often find myself clicking out of those websites almost instantaneously.  My time is worth more to me than putting forth the extra effort to wade through all the clutter to find what I'm looking for.

I think of it in terms of visiting someone's office - only digitally.  If I walk into an office, I expect the experience to be relatively simple.  I expect to walk into a reception area where I can effortlessly let them know I am there, perhaps sign in, and get directions to which office or waiting area I need to go to.  I do not want to be pounced upon at the door by someone trying to sell me this season's new perfume - practically spraying it into my face as I walk in.  I do not want to take five steps into the waiting area and have another individual lunge at me from somewhere I didn't even see him coming from announcing that I've been selected for a very special offer.  He most certainly better not approach me with a confetti cannon and megaphone.  After dodging him, I step up to the desk at the end of the room, give my name and appointment information - just to have that individual thank me for the information and then direct me to the actual reception desk, which is around the corner.  

As a point of clarification, I am not saying that your site should not include some form of native ad options.  Native ads have, after all, become a rather useful tool in the past few years.  What I am saying however, is that your ads should be strategically integrated.  Going back to my example of visiting an office, it's not like the office you're visiting doesn't have handout and advertising material around.  They just have it placed where it makes sense.  Perhaps it is a handout brochure at the reception desk.  Perhaps it is displayed on the wall as part of their decor.  At the moment, I'm thinking of sitting in my PCP's office.  There are some lists on the wall about what you can do to help minimize cold and flu symptoms.  There are samples for a variety of medications available near the check-in area.  There are pamphlets available near the magazine rack providing information about different kinds of health conditions.  It's there.  It's non-invasive.  And, it's applicable to what I'm doing.  

Here are some things to consider while designing (or redesigning) your website:

1.  Is there too much information?  If your page looks cluttered, or there is a lot of text, it can turn people off.  You want to have a site that looks nice.  You want it to be inviting while also providing information to customers and clients.  

2.  Are you using images properly?  Images should compliment the text on the page.  This goes for both size ratio as well as content.  If you are providing yoga services, for instance, you may want to reconsider the giant picture of an apple pie in the middle of the page.  However, if you are promoting a "Pie-lates" class that incorporates pie with your Pilates class, an apple pie image may be applicable.  Just make sure it is not too big or too small for your site layout. 

3.  Are you using Flash?  This should be a no-brainer these days, but you'd be amazed at the number of sites that still incorporate flash designs.  While Flash may give you a splashy effect, not everyone will see it since it requires users to download and install a player.  Which brings us to our next point.

4.  Is your site easy for users?  Your site should be easy to use - from searching to navigation.  If someone visiting your site has to jump through hoops (such as installing a Flash player) to find what they are looking for, they are more likely to move on elsewhere.  

5.  Is your contact information handy?  While I understand using a contact form, if your customers are more likely to contact your business by phone it makes sense to have your phone number listed.  In this day and age of social media usage, you should have your social media information also listed on your site.  It helps in building your social media following as much as it does in building relationships with your customers.  

6.  Are your ads strategically placed?  Whether you're using Google Ads or utlize B2B ad placements, make sure the location of your ads makes sense.  I pay attention to ads I see on sites I visit - good or bad.  If there is a pop-up ad, I want the ability to "x" out of it (even if I have to wait a few seconds to do so, that's fine) or to minimize it in some capacity so I can do what I came to the site to do.  If I see an ad in a side bar, header, or footer that appeals to me, I generally left click to open it in another window.  That way I can continue what I'm doing on the site I'm on, and come back to whatever it was that I want to learn more about.  (And, don't get me started on ads that auto-play video or audio.  Let's just say that I keep the speakers on my phone and computer off 99% of the time.  It's my way of avoiding unwanted audio interjection into whatever I'm doing online.)