Pop Quiz: What’s the most important part of your website?
- Your sales pitch
- A feedback mechanism
- Your contact information
Answer: You guessed it—you really can’t choose. All three serve different, equally important roles. Deciding what to include on your website is a process of understanding what your prospects and customers want and need from you, and what you want and need from your prospect and customers.
You probably already have a mental list of what you need to include. And you probably know what you want to say about yourself and you know what your customers need. But are you sure that list includes everything your customers want? If possible, have a few conversations with customers; use your next blog post or email newsletter to ask them what they want or need from you. Their answers may surprise you.
You can start your website list by organizing content and features into three buckets:
Getting new customers
Do you have a concise statement and image that communicates who you are, what you’re offering, and how you differ from the competition? This branding and positioning message needs to be the first thing everyone sees on your page, and it typically lives in the header of the page. The visitor needs to know within the first 5 seconds of visiting your site why they should care. If you don’t communicate that up front, odds are they will hit the Back button.
What else do prospects want? Well, they probably want to know how fabulous your product is, so be sure that customer testimonials and a concise product description with benefits are easily found. They want to know the price and any specials you have, like a free trial version. And, hopefully, they want to purchase your product, so be sure they can quickly and easily buy and download your app, whether it’s directly from your site using secure e-commerce, or via a direct link to the app store that carries your software.
Consider live Web chat as well. This is an excellent way to capture new leads as they’re exploring your page. If you don’t have the resources for a 24-hour live chat, let your visitors know that between specified hours an expert in your product will be available to answer questions.
Once you’ve snagged them, you don’t want to lose them. You can use your website as a tool to help retain customers.
The best way to strengthen a relationship is through communication, so make sure that your contact information is easy to find—within seconds of landing on the page. Keep in mind that some customers prefer to serve themselves, so whenever possible, include support information and frequently asked questions for those independent types.
When you have news about your company or product that is truly important to the customer, give it a place of prominence. You can include it on the home page, or, if the news is particularly exciting, such as a new release, consider a pop-up message that greets them when they hit the page.
Besides the general email and phone number, you might also want to include a contact form that prompts the customer to provide feedback or even a testimonial with screen grabs/images. If you make it easy for them to respond, you’ll increase your likelihood of receiving that valuable feedback and support.
Creating a community
One of the best ways to solidify customer relationships and bring in new business is to create a community where like-minded folks want to come back and share information. The testimonials you gather can inspire prospects and current users alike. Include relevant blog posts and invite comments and conversations—you’ll really learn what your customers want and need from these forums.
When you create a site that is rich in content, your customers will be more likely to send the link to a friend. Make it easy for site visitors to sign up for your newsletter, recommend your newsletter to a friend, Like your Facebook page, and follow you on Twitter.
Last but not least, don’t forget the footer. It should contain your copyright, any links to sister websites, and maybe even another link to the Contact Us page. Just to be sure it’s easy to find.
Take a look at an example of how website designers approach new clients. The questions they ask you are ones you should be asking yourself. There are all sorts of other checklists out there for website development; have a look at this “Step-by-Step Website Development Checklist” and this mobile development checklist.
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