The ease with which an effective website can be built these days is downright scary. One moment you’re sitting in your home office with a kernel of an idea for a business; an hour later you have a professional-looking website that could pass for a 10-year-old business.
But there’s a lot more to an engaging website than clean lines, colorful buttons, and big pieces of artwork. The difference between splashy pieces of fluff and worthwhile content and valuable information is often the difference between a site visitor seeing your company as a worthy partner to do business with or a fly-by-night operation that is trying to lure them in with buzzwords and bold claims that it cannot really back up.
Engagement is about the hottest word in digital commerce. Getting potential customers to a website is tough, but the hardest thing is keeping them there. The term “bounce rate” has been around since eCommerce became a thing. It is defined as the percentage of single interaction visits to a website. That means a visitor came to one page on your website and left. They didn’t come back later and they did not click on any links on your page to visit another part of the website. In the real world, an equivalent is a person walking into a department store, looking at one item, then turning around and leaving, never coming back, and not even considering buying anything else.
That sounds awfully rough in the real-world example, and it’s not that pretty online either. Considering the time and effort you put into your website, having people take a single glance and jump somewhere else is pretty demoralizing, which is why you need to go above and beyond what the competition is doing to make a name for yourself. Where to start? What to emphasize? Keep reading to get a great checklist of the best ways to beef up what your website has to offer.
Pick a Goal
Every business needs a website, but what is the purpose of the said website? Is it an online version of your store? Is it strictly a knowledge base or an FAQ? The purpose should never be “because everyone has a website”. There has to be value for visitors to come to your website, even if it’s as simple as giving them the basics of how to get in contact with you via email, phone number, or social media. On some websites, these contact points and a map to your physical location are more important than any bells or whistles. If you can’t get ahold of what your goal should be, reach out to your employees and your customers to get their insight. What things about the business are lacking? What information do people want to be able to look up without ringing you on the phone or walking through the front door? Is it informational or actionable?
Be Quick About it
Your website could feature a live shot of astronauts landing on Mars and meeting representatives from an alien society, but if it is slow to load, tons of people will be looking for something faster. Most people’s demands for accessing a web page are in the impossible-to-meet realm. The minute we punch in a site or swipe a link, we’re expecting to instantly be at the new location. That means your site’s page time load can either be a blessing or a burden, especially on mobile devices. Why are we so short-tempered on our smartphones and tablets? Consider the environment: In public or on the go, we’re typically on these devices for really short intervals: at a red light, in line for coffee, in an elevator, waiting on hold on another call, etc. With so little time available, if a page doesn’t come up right away, our patience is done within seconds. In fact, unbounce.com data shows that if a load time is even five seconds on mobile, the bounce rate increases 90%. If your page takes a sloth-like 10 seconds to load, the bounce rate goes up to 123%. One strategy to combat this on mobile if to only have the visible part of the page load at first. As a user scrolls down, the rest of the page can load as it is being viewed.
The average person loves learning new information, and most of them enjoy the quickness and familiarity of learning through pictures rather than by reading, especially in a narrow window like a mobile device allows for.
Enter the age of the infographic, where you can learn new facts and figures without having to scroll through endless lines of text. It’s one of the best forms of parse-able information your website can offer. Even better, it enables you to cut down significantly on other websites reusing your original content without permission. Make sure to include the name of your website and a copyright symbol on every infographic you make. Even if it is poached somewhere else, you’ll still be getting credit for it, and a surprisingly large number of web visitors who see the source will want to know what other cool things you have to offer.
Videos and Images Make You Legit
An all-text website with stock photo images could have been created by a professional company with 50 employees or by a savvy 14-year-old who knows how to use CreativeCommons.org. You begin setting your site apart with the tips above and by including authentic images and photos, that is, ones taken by your staff members and often featuring your staff members. Imagine your website revolves around prices for various chemicals used in industrial applications. If all you do is repost news stories from other outlets and quote prices, you’ll get some followers, but no more than any other sites doing the same thing does. But if you have video from your reporters at industry events, interviewing company representatives, and giving real-time analysis, you’re proving your company to be a thought leader capable of offering true insight. That means you’re going to find viewers coming back and coming in droves.