I'm sure you have read articles about websites that have the words Successful, Profitable, Searchable, Findable, or Killer in the title… but Friendly Websites? Com'on… This is BUSINESS! Let's cut to the chase! Every website has one of two goals… Friendraising or Fundraising. I know in reality every website is based on both, but chances are, if you are not doing ecommerce, you are friendraising. You are trying to get people to get to know you and your business better. Unfortunately, some websites (hopefully not yours) plays charades with visitors. You know the ones? Websites that try to make you guess the answers, and what do you win? Too many websites focus on their branding and messages, and neglect the needs of the user. Hopefully, these next four points will help you see where your website can become more user friendly!
1) Smart & Friendly Navigation
People try to get cute with navigation on their websites. I've used such a website to teach about good and awful navigation. It had all the menu items on the home page made with flash. The navigation was flying wings floating around the screen and you had to hunt them down to click on them. That might have been “Cool” in the 90's but today, “Ain't Nobody Got Time for That”!
In a past post I talked about the “Microwave Effect“. People (and search engines) expect certain pages to have certain content, and in a certain order. They expect your home page to be called “Home” (not “Welcome” or “Yo Dewd”), “About Us” to be about you and your company and usually right next to home, and your “Contact” page is usually the last page. Make it simple and clear about how people are EXPECTED to navigate your website. Cute is cool until someone gets confused or lost.
2) User Friendly Content
Nothing kills a website like over keywording content to death. Once you get people to your website, people don't need to know every town or neighborhood you service. If you list every keyword version of service that you provide, you will bore people to tears. Search Engines don't buy from you… People do!
Good content is written for the end users. It is clear, concise, and well written. Nothing can kill a sale faster than bad grammar, run on sentences, or tech speak that would bore a zombie to tears. Read every page as if you know nothing about who you are and what you do. If it feels long and clunky, or short and incomplete… IT IS!
Google wants your page to be 300 to 500 words (to be relevant) and so does your end user. Don't save your best for last (like a punch line) because it may fall below the fold. If someone comes to your website, what questions would they ask? Answer them!
P.S. You may have noticed some grammatical flaws in my blog posts. That's why I hired a professional writer to clean up my website text.
3) Great Friendly Pictures
Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram have made a huge change to the internet. Facebook, LinkedIn and even Twitter have become more visual. Sometimes just getting people to read a post can be determined by the ‘Featured Image' you use on your website or social media. Good images can make the difference to entice people to click and read more.
I will assume that you know you just can't copy and download images from Google or Flickr for your blog. You need to purchase rights from image libraries like IStockPhoto or ShutterStock, and make sure your read the rights for what you are getting when you buy them. I have seen many a client chased down by Masterfile or Getty Images for illegal use of stock images and hoping for a payday. Sorry for the Debbie Downer moment… but you have been informed.
On the positive side good pictures can be self made content. Take lots of pictures with your cell phone or digital camera. Find a graphic artist in your area or through networking groups, where you can either rent their work, or hire them to create original stuff for you. It's money well spent.
Nothing brightens up a room like a fresh coat of paint, and nothing makes a web page text more intriguing than awesome images.
4) Friendly Call(s) To Action
Another major buzz kill for users of your website is content that feels like “BUY NOW” buttons on every paragraph. Most people know that if you have to sell it THAT HARD, it's probably not worth the click. On the other hand… no call to action leads to no action. Bloggers know that asking questions or prompting for comments, generates more interaction.
Entice users to contact you for more information. Offer them a free report or ebook to get their email address. Ask them to call you for a free consultation. Give them a reason to take a step towards interaction. Ultimately, isn't that what your website is there to do?
All to often I see websites that over communicate with the hopes of telling potential customers everything they need to know. Yet they fall short on enticing people to speak to a human. Is it because you content is that good? You don't have time to take another phone call or answer another email? Please take a look at your website and see if it's encouraging interaction, or just blah-blah-blah-ing people to tears!
I am certain that for some of you this has either stuck a chord (given you and ah-ha moment) or struck a nerve (made you humph). Whatever you're feeling (things that you have learned or if you want to playfully be the grammar police)… I encourage you to share them with all of us… Please Comment (friendly call to action!).