The main failing I see in most business websites, and especially small businesses is a lack of clarity.
This isn’t surprising. It’s always tempting to add all of the information and content that we can.
If you have multiple products or services, and do multiple things – of course you want to promote and explain them all.
You want to do your entire business justice.
The issue is – and this is a growing problem as attention spans continue to shrink – people use the internet in an increasingly specific way.
People are not opening up your website and browsing through it like it is a brochure, or a book.
Instead, they are scanning for snippets of information, making snap judgements, and forming quick, immovable first impressions.
They are seeking out specific clues and hints that you can help them before they waste any time delving in deeper.
If visitors are not immediately captured by your website, they will hit the back button in a matter of seconds, and are very unlikely to ever return.
So how can you optimise your website for short attentions
This all means that you need to be catering to how people use your website.
It’s worth paying extra attention to the top of your website, because this is your chance to grab their attention.
Increasingly, they will also be on mobile devices, browsing to fill a few minutes while waiting for a train, or for the kettle to boil.
Think about what your users want, and make sure you are displaying it front and centre.
Bringing clarity to your website
A good website is often a good indication of how well focussed a business is.
To be able to design and launch a clear website, you need to know who your audience is, what language is likely to resonate with them, and how you can quickly communicate the specific way you can help them and make their life better.
The best websites make it clear in a matter of seconds, how they can help improve the lives of their customers.
But to get to this level of clarity, you will need to think hard about how you can distill your message, and your unique offer.
This is why website creation is such a fine art. A website should be your key marketing asset, persuading, and removing any reluctance that your customers have to do business with you.
So it should be built on sound marketing principles.
This means you need to understand marketing and sales to build a great website that actually lives up to its potential and adds value to your business.
I talk a lot about the value of storytelling here – based on Donald Miller’s Storytelling Framework.
This is an effective way to communicate the real benefits that your product or service can offer your customers.
But if you build a website without having done the leg work, and having a thorough understanding of the problems your business is solving for your specific customers, then you will undoubtedly create a website that is as clear as mud.