October 22, 2014

5 Things Your Website Should Do

Your website is the face of your business on the Web. It’s what greets your customers when they decide to check you out or get more information. It conveys your message, shows them what you’re about, and is often their first point of contact with your brand.

So are you using your site effectively? Or are you giving off a tone and impression you may not even be aware of?

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to business owners about the current state of their website and what it is (or is not) saying to consumers. While we all do our best to prepare for the start of 2013 (yes, this is already happening) below are some reminders of the key objectives your website should serve.

Your website should:

1. Tell your story

A visitor to your website is looking for information about your product or services to make a more informed buying decision. But that’s not all they’re looking for. They’re also looking for you. The messaging, visuals, and types of content/features you put on your website play a vital part in telling potential customers who you are and revealing your brand story.

Social media has turned us all into voyeurs. We don’t just want to know why you’re competent at your job, we want to know what moves you. If I’m looking for a new lawnmower, there are hundreds of sites on the Web to choose for. I’m on your site hunting for cues as to why you are the company I should support. Your website needs to answer WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”) while giving me something to relate to and support. . Maybe it’s that you excel in customer service. Maybe it’s that you donate 10 percent of your profits to a particular cause. Maybe you’re a family-owned business. All of that information is going to be taken into account when I look to make a decision.

I’m looking for it, but are you giving it?

2. Address Core Business Goals

Many times in the excitement/rush of putting up a new website, we grab a template, throw together some content, and let it loose without giving much thought to the purpose of the site or what we’re trying to accomplish. We think having a site that just exists is better than having no site at all. But what’s the point of having a marketing tool if you’re not benefiting from it? It’s a wasted resource.

Your website should be looked at as an extension of your company, and tasked with achieving the same type of goals that surround your business. The goal of your site may be straight lead generation. Or it could be to get someone to pick up the phone or fill out a form. Or maybe it’s just to inspire donations or point users down some other path. You need to identify what your core goals are so that a solid conversion path can be created and built into your site.

3. Educate

Outside of the other goals you identify before, one of the main benefits of your website will be to educate your audience. Your site will stand to not only inform them about your services, but to provide knowledge and insight about your industry or topics related to whatever it is you do. By doing this you’ll be able to establish yourself as a true resource. You may choose to educate your audience through status updates, through a blog, a newsletter, creating videos, or just sharing links to third-party websites. Whatever it is, work toward building your site up as a place for industry education. That’s how you’ll stand out and attract an audience that keeps coming back.

4. Show off your assets

There’s nothing more frustrating for me than meeting with a client who appears to be purposely hiding their most interesting assets. They’re on Twitter, on Facebook, on YouTube, they’re blogging, and they’re creating content that is worthy of sharing. But then they’re either hiding it on their site or they’re not putting it on their site to begin with.

  • You work hard to create awesome stuff. Show it off!
  • Do you attend industry conferences where you speak on topics related to your business? Show people this.
  • Do you create video tutorials designed to walk people through common problems? Make sure people can find it.

Often, we’re sitting on a goldmine of content assets that we don’t even realize. Pull these things out of the basement, dust them off, and make them part of your website. Sometimes the best assets you can create are things you already had but didn’t do anything with.

5. Create an Experience

Ultimately, this is what everything above leads to – creating an experience around your brand that your consumers will enjoy. If people enjoy their interaction with you, they’ll be back. If they don’t…they probably won’t.

Those are five things I always look for when analyzing corporate websites. How are you using your site in interesting ways?

20 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

20 Reactions

  1. I think that a lot can be wrapped into the idea of “creating an experience.” It includes everything from your story, to your goals to the actual user experience on the site (including design). The real question usually is “Will a visitor come back again?”

  2. Here’s one more– have a call to action or reason why potential customers should contact you.

  3. Hi Lisa,

    Great post. I especially like the points you made about telling your story and creating an experience. These are two of the most important things your website to do to grab and keep your visitors attention. I do this is just about every post that I do and it’s been working well for keeping my readers interested in my content.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Ti

  4. Hi Lisa, I really benefitted a lot from this piece. Your site have to show your clients that feeling that says they are part of the team. You can also read this article on how to manage yourself in a context of time at http://www.sadiqdaniel.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/time-management-skills-it-just-happens.html

  5. Hi Lisa,

    Great post and I think the part about email newsletters could be emphasized a little. When someone arrives to your website it’s really just a first meeting but like all good relationships there needs to be ongoing contact and communication.

  6. Excellent post. I want to add few things is,
    1. Put yourself in the shoes of the customers
    2. Always test (A/B Test) 2-3 different alternatives for landing page & CTA
    3. People love graphics

  7. Lisa,

    Thank you for the reminder about making sure that we–as small business owners, tell our story.

    Otherwise, visitors may just click elsewhere.

    The Franchise King®

  8. Unfortunately, “telling your story” is not advice that a lot of business owners want to hear. A lot of small business owners, in particular, seem to feel that all a website is supposed to be is a brochure. (And to be fair, a lot of web designers only want to deliver that, too.)

    I talked to a lady here about a site redesign – owns a large outsourced HR/payroll/accounting etc company – some of the ideas I brought up were completely foreign to her. Like she’d never thought of her site being a lead-generation tool for her.

  9. I think the core purpose of a website is to build relationships with customers, not just be a shop window to promote your products.

    I have just build my own webiste and feel reassured that I am trying to do the 5 things above. It may not be totally successful yet but trial and error will get it there.

  10. I am hoping to get my own website up soon. I am still selling through Etsy. But this is some good advice to keep in mind for the future.
    You got a little typo here: “A visitor to your website is looking for information about your product or services to make a more informed busying decision. ” you mean buying decision, right?

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