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At the risk of sounding flippant, the simple answer is that something has either not been done or has been done incorrectly. But what is it exactly? What could be causing so many websites to underperform?
To understand this we first need to identify what it is that a website needs to achieve in order to perform and generate results.
Essentially, a site needs to:
- receive good levels of relevant traffic
- engage visitors
- convert visitors into customers
Addressing these elements effectively is critical for a website to be successful. Failure in any one of these areas and the site’s performance will suffer - which in turn will hit the company's bottom line. Points i) and iii) I shall be looking at in later posts but today I'm going to concentrate on engaging visitors - and in particular first impressions.
Converting Visitors into CustomersIf, when assessing your analytics, you see results showing high bounce rates, or low site page visits, or low time on site, then there is an issue around visitors leaving the site far too quickly. They are not engaging with the site for some reason.
Identifying what the issue is can be pretty straightforward. But identifying why this is the case is what we're after. In our experience, there can be a whole number of reasons why visitors are leaving websites quickly - they might feel they are in the wrong place, they might not be sure about how to use the website - in many cases it can be simply that they do not like the look of the site.
On this last point, we are all told we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that first impressions often lie, etc., but I'm afraid I do it and I would guess that you might do it too. Many of us tend to make judgements very quickly based on the feeling we get from the overall look-and-feel of a website. Some call it the 3 second rule, others the 2 second rule, or even the 1 second rule. However many seconds it actually takes, one thing's for sure - it's not very long.
In times when internet users are becoming increasingly demanding and impatient, a website has precious little time to communicate to the user. And rightly or wrongly, we all make up our minds almost immediately based upon how well the site communicates to us.
Am I in the right place? Does this feel like a company I can trust to do business with? These questions are being asked by visitors landing on your site and as visual communication is the most immediate, the site's look-and-feel, it's visual message needs to be absolutely spot on.
Everything a company says or does communicates something about the quality or the values of that business, right from how the phone is answered through to the quality of company documents. All these go into making up the public image of the company.
Potential customers are influenced either positively or negatively every time they come into contact with a company and will make their decisions based upon these experiences. A company's website is a crucial part of this and considering its importance in generating revenues, why then do so many companies put such little effort in getting it right?
Yes, generating high levels of traffic to your site is very important, but if, on arrival, visitors are presented with a website that looks tired and out-of-date then they might well feel that, like the site, the company too is tired and out-of-date. They might question whether or not they want to do business with this the type of company.
You may well have the best range of products on the web at the very best prices but present your visitors with a poorly designed site and you might put them off before they even get through the front door.
Time and effort needs to be put into making your online image communicate exactly what your company is about. Simply throwing up a website with little or no thought to the message that is being communicated can often be the difference between online success or failure.
First impressions may often lie - make sure yours doesn't.