Perhaps these are conversations that are happening behind closed doors, so I’m hear to blow the lid off a few things. But first, let me set the scene for you.
At some random networking event, I run into someone really interested in talking about working together to build brand awareness using social and digital media. Awesome, just the conversations I love to have. We follow up our unplanned encounter with a scheduled meeting. In preparation for the meeting, I do my homework researching this person’s current social media, digital presence and website. Like a good consultant should!
What do I find during my routine pre-meeting preparation, but a complete shit show of a website. I mean, the thing hasn’t been updated for years, there nothing to indicate a company personality or link to their social media sites, and — as an added bonus — the logos from the website don’t even match those on current business cards.
So, we show up for a our coffee and social media conversation. When we get past the pleasantries, the conversation goes something like this —
Me: So, how do you feel about your website?
Them: Oh, I know it needs a little sprucing up, but I really want to talk about social media.
Me: Really? Hmm, did you have fantasies about driving traffic to your website from your social media channels?
Them: excitedly Yeah, that’s a real goal!
Me: quizzically Why are you worried about social media when your website sucks?
Herein lies the problem. Everybody is very concerned about their social media presence — that’s actually a good thing — but, if your plan is to drive traffic to your website and it’s a complete mess, than you are not ready to dive into social media just yet.
Although I don’t actually do any behind the scenes website construction or programming, I’m glad to throw in my two cents when it comes to visual appeal, user interface, and general layout. Here are some of the biggest offenses that send me back to my Google search results. Admittedly, you may have others to add to the list, since this is not exhaustive I’m sure to leave a few out.
Too Much Text
Although it may be tempting to include everything and the kitchen sink, but remember, people’s attention spans are shorter than what they use to be. You know from your own experience, if you’re questioning whether the investment in time or energy seems to outweigh the payoff — then you’re already planning to move on.
If you have lots of text to include be sure to break up with other visual elements such as pictures and headings.
Pages with too much text don’t draw in readers because people can’t get an easy preview of what the page has to offer. Make pages scannable with headings, pictures, survey questions or other types of visual aids. You may get a reader on the fence, they check out the video, and decide reading is a good idea. That’s great because it increases the points of interaction and amount of time spent on the page.
Use of Page Real Estate
I might have a bias for a three column page, but I find websites are easier to navigate when there are multiple points of navigation easy to locate on the site. I’m also partial to navigation at the bottom of the page as well.
Sidebars are always a great place to include testimonials, upcoming speaking events, or other types of timely information. And make social media interaction easy with plugins and streams in columns too!
I’ve also heard the “Website Under Construction” signs are pretty useless, so maybe you want to get rid of that and not make the site live until it’s fully ready for traffic.
“About” Page Falsie
In case you’re unaware, the “About” page is typically one of the most visited on most sites. I appreciate an actual “About” page, which tells me something about the minds (read people) behind an organization. Not the “falsie” which attempts to present a “big” company using “we” and “us,” but personalization can be to your benefit. At least give your site visitors some insight on the leadership of your organization — no matter how big or small.
No Contact/Interaction Opportunities
If you would like to increase business opportunities with your website — please include a contact page with a contact form. I have been to many out-of-date websites which seem to be missing the all important opportunity for prospective clients to actually reach someone at your organization. There’s nothing wrong with making contact with you as simple as possible.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to start your social media efforts or do you still have some work to do to get your website ready for the 21st century visitor?