When I worked at The Worst Job In The WorldTM, one of my jobs was to sort out the new company webshite. Uh, website. Sorry.
Inevitably, there were loads of pointless meetings and a ton of uninformed opinions. I remember one of the people who worked there sent me a link to, and I quote, “the most beautiful website I’ve ever seen”.
It played serene music, and was – as I recall – black with abstract patterns that shifted and changed as you moved your mouse around. There was no navigation that I could see.
“But what is it for?” I asked him. “What does it DO?”
“Well, it’s just beautiful, isn’t it? It makes the company look great. Slick and polished and wonderful. That’s the kind of thing we need.”
I hope you realise by now what an absolute bunch of arse that is. And why I didn’t last more than six months at that place.
I suspect that website cost an absolute fortune. In the tens of thousands, I wouldn’t be surprised. But do you know what? I’ve no idea whose website that was, and couldn’t figure out how to find out. Or what to do.
So let me ask you: what does your website need to do? What is your most wanted action (MWA)? The thing you want people to do on your website more than anything else?
It might be opt-ins to your email list. It might be downloading a free report. It might be buying from you directly (although you know by now what I think about cold sales).
The point is, you must be clear about what you want people to do when they land on your website. (This goes back to what I was saying about landing pages – each page must have a clear purpose.)
Here are the four biggest problems I see with people’s websites:
- They’re not sure themselves what their MWA is and that’s reflected in their website. Remember: if you’re not clear what you want your visitor to do, how will they know? People who are confused won’t take action.
- Most websites hide the MWA away. It’s not obvious. That’s crazy: you have to make it very clear, and very obvious, what your visitor needs to do next. Put it right up in your visitor’s face.
- They’re full of bright shiny objects that distract your visitor from taking your MWA. Instead, your pretty buttons and baubles attract your visitor to click on stuff that you don’t want them to. (That’s why I tell my clients not to put social media links on their websites. Or at least not on their landing pages.)
- Too much choice. Marketers always bang on about giving customers a choice – and that’s good, as far as it goes. But have you ever heard of option paralysis? The situation where, faced with unlimited choices, you have the ability to make none? If you give people a choice between two webinar dates, for example, they won’t choose. They’ll do nothing.
If you keep all that in mind when you’re planning, writing and designing your new website, you’ll be doing better than most.
Speaking of designing your website… I’m assuming that you’re not a web developer or designer. I’m not, either. That introduces another layer of uncertainty into your marketing.
So I’m going to give you a Very Valuable Tip: choose your web dev carefully. Very carefully. A new website won’t be a small investment, so it needs to work.
When you’re talking to web devs about hiring them to build your site, listen carefully to what they say. And pay particular attention to the first question they ask. If their first question isn’t:
“What does your website need to do?”
…walk away. Or at least, think VERY carefully before you fork over your cash. If you know exactly what your website needs to do and how it should be set up, go for it – you should be able to explain clearly what you need.
But if you’re not confident, you need a web dev who understands sales and marketing and in my experience, they’re few and far between.
I cover how to make your website work hard for you in my book Business For Superheroes. But for now, keep in mind what your website needs to do, and make sure your web dev and designer understand that.
Today’s homework: check your website over and make sure it’s not making any of those common mistakes up there.
It’s an investment – make it earn its keep!
PS When you’re talking to web devs and designers about your new website, you’ll probably encounter some resistance if they don’t understand sales and marketing.
They’ll tell you that this font or that design is vital. They’ll tell you that there’s too much copy on your pages and nobody will read it. Well…
Don’t let yourself be bullied. Stick to your guns. And if they get really insistent and don’t listen – ditch them. You don’t have to work with anyone you don’t want to. Be strong. Your bank balance will thank you for it.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.