After reading Lisa Barone’s incredibly useful and popular post “25 Questions Your Site Must Answer,” I felt compelled to look at my site and my client’s sites to see what tools I could find and use to start answering as many of the questions as I could.
I’m not done yet, but Lisa inspired me to find the tools to get the job done. Below, I don’t answer all of Lisa’s questions, as you’ll see. Because there is no tool to answer how you are weird or what you believe in, that I can find.
But I love the questions:
1. Where is your search box? How usable is the navigation?
I’ve created many Custom Search Engine search boxes with Google’s tools. Here is how to do it.
2. Are you a real company? Do you have a store? Where is it located? What are the hours? Phone number? I need a map.
Lisa is right on with this one: Show your visitor a map. But first, make sure your site is mobile-enabled.
Frankly, most mobile browsers on smartphones are figuring out how to display even older sites, but it doesn’t hurt to take a peek at what yours looks like on different devices. Gomez is one of the best, free tools to test a mobile view. They email you the results. But you can also check out this list from WebDesignerDepot.
Next, go to Google Maps and grab the embed code to insert into your website so that your map is instantly available to a mobile phone user. Here’s the Google Maps way to do it.
3. Are you on Twitter? Facebook? Instagram?
Add the social buttons easily with two of the most popular tools: AddThis or ShareThis. If you use WordPress, you’ll want to search for plug-ins from within your dashboard, but here’s a list to get you thinking.
4. Is there an About page? Are your employees visible? Do you give them a voice?
Easy enough to create an About page. Totally needed. Of course, Lisa is too humble to link to her other post that offers excellent advice “5 Must Haves For That About Us Page.” Here are 12 great examples from BlogTyrant.
In addition to creating a page that profiles employees or your team, make sure your team is connected on LinkedIn by having a Company Page. Head over to their Learning Center to see how to best leverage a company page.
5. What is the culture like? Are you a “good” company?
6. Are there company testimonials? What other people or companies have worked with you? Were they happy with the experience?
I’m going to combine questions 5 and 6 and state ditto on using LinkedIn for testimonials and partnerships. Forget about those testimonials that say, “Susie J. says…” Those are not likely to be believed. Ask your customers to connect and use LinkedIn or use a plugin like this if you use WordPress.
7. What about product or service reviews? What’s everyone else saying? Am I making a good decision if I commit to this?
Link to your Yelp profile, if you have one, so people can see what others are saying. If you don’t have one, consider getting your business started on Yelp. Possibly even better would be to use GetSatisfaction, the online customer feedback service.
8. If I’m not ready to buy yet, how can I stay in touch? Is there a blog? A newsletter?
One of the main reasons to have a site is to keep advancing the conversation with a customer. Have a Web form to capture names and emails that allow you to stay in touch. I like MailChimp forms as well as Aweber.
9. How do I know if this is the “right” product for me? Is there a sizing guide? A product FAQ? Comparison charts?
You can do this in a spreadsheet, of course, and then embed it or take a screenshot and use that. Read these Microsoft Excel instructions on creating the comparison chart. Or try out Compare Ninja, a Web-based service. You can also take a look at Hongkiat’s post on comparison charts which reveal some other tools. Finally, there’s a simple HTML chart generator from IzzyWebsite.
10. What’s your return policy like? Will I stuck with this if I don’t like it?
11. Do you ship to where I live? Where are you shipping from? How long will it take me to get my goods?
If you find yourself overwhelmed with shipping, you might want to check out my review of Shipwire that offers fulfillment at an affordable price from multiple warehouses.
12. What are your payment options? Can I pay with Paypal?
Paypal lets you create custom buttons and while their tools are not always super user-friendly, they work. You can create custom invoices, too. They explain how in this FAQ on Paypal Buy Now Buttons. They let you insert the Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express logos, too.
13. Is your Web site secure? Are there icons that tell me that?
If you run an ecommerce store, you are probably already using an SSL connection or on a secure site, but you can make sure you put the certificates front and center as Lisa suggests. Visit Thawte, Network Solutions, Google Trusted Stores, SiteLock, or Verisign (which is owned by Symantec, makers of Norton Antivirus). Each of these lets you have icons to display, of course. You can also remind customers and visitors to look for the little padlock symbol in their browser address bar when shopping.
14. How will you protect my personal information? If I give you my email address, are you going to respect it or sell it?
Read Pam Moore’s Social Trust post on Social Media Today for a few ideas. On top of that, use the security badges/icons to show your site is secure. Of course, you could make your own badge/statement of protection around how you are not a spammer and you won’t sell my information. That goes a long way to starting the trust process. See answer to question 13.
15. Do your prices make sense? Are you high? Low?
Comparison chart is the way to go, even if you’re only comparing your own services or products.
17. Have any of my friends purchased from this site before? Are they connected with you on Facebook? Do you show that off?
See above to add social sharing buttons. Or, check out TabJuice or Payvment which both look to have robust options for a Facebook storefront.
19. Should I trust you? Are you part of any organizations?
This goes along with the security question above, so you could put that Better Business Bureau logo, if you’re a member.
20. Do other people seek you out? Do you speak anywhere? Teach a class? Been featured anywhere cool?
Put a “Press Page” on your About Us page. Again, LinkedIn (sign in to find these) offers ways to share this information with add-on tools like Amazon’s Reading List app, LinkedIn Events, TripIt’s My Travel app, and Slideshare’s Presentation tool. If you are a web or software developer, you can highlight your GitHub Social Coding utility via LinkedIn, too, showcasing how you share your code and coding skills.
24. What does your process look like?
Create an easy-to-understand flowchart in a spreadsheet or use Mindmeister to create a mindmap that others can visually see how you think, how you do things.
25. How is this product different from that other one on your Web site? Which is better for me?
The comparison tools listed above can help you.
I’m grateful to Lisa, and I’ve said this many times before, for the kick in the pants. She cares about readers and wants to help you succeed in getting people to engage via online means.
What tools are you using to get the work done that Lisa put on your plate? (I may be able to use your expertise in a future post.) Or feel free to email me via my Small Business Trends bio page.
Online Questions Photo via Shutterstock
TJ: Great step-by-step guide for your website! 🙂 I have to work on the “packaging” of my services and display that in an easy way on my website. Do you have any tips on this feature?
Fantastic job, TJ.
I didn’t know about a lot of these tools, and I’m going to see if any of them would make sense for my sites.
The Franchise King®
Great post, we will be meeting with our webmaster to go down list to be sure we have all the tools mentioned. I know we have many of them, but not sure if we have all of them.
Ramsay from Blog Tyrant
Thanks for the mention! Really appreciate it.
Great post you’ve put together here.
I especially liked #1 Creating a custom search on your site. Thanks for the info.
Making everything as easy as possible can help increase revenue.
A very useful article! I’m particularly interested in #13. I am considering to subscribe to one of the services you mentioned (Thawte, Network Solutions, Google Trusted Stores, SiteLock, or Verisign). I’m also considering ClickID.
I’m inclined toward Verisign (now Norton Secured) but can you suggest me the “trust level” of those services – which one is more trusted by the customers and why.
There is some evidence that having a phone number on your site does increase trust (featured in No. 2 above):
If you’re only focused on trust on your Homepage, you’re missing a huge opportunity with your ‘About Me’ page. That’s one of the main pages that users use to gain trust from a business.
I’ve included examples of how you can build trust on the about me page