If you’re unhappy with your website’s performance, you’re not alone.
Everyone expects a certain level of performance from their website — bloggers want bigger lists, businesses want more sales, and non-profits want more participation.
But it doesn’t always work out the way you’d like, right? And when your site isn’t converting well, the lack of results can leave you feeling frustrated, confused, and defeated.
The good news is, it can be fixed. The great news is that correcting the problem is usually just a matter of making a few minor changes.
You need to do an evaluation of your site.
If your website isn’t bringing you the results you want, then it’s time to figure out why. To do this, you need to take a “step back” and assess your site as objectively as possible.
For the best results, try to look at your site through the eyes of your audience, and be ruthless in your critiques. The more honest you are with yourself during this evaluation, the more effective it will be.
To help you review your site, here are 7 things I look at I when I do website evaluations for clients.
1. Website Load Speed
How long does it take your website to load a complete page? The longer your site takes to load, the more sales you stand to lose.
For more information, read Willie Jackson’s article, and you’ll learn how to speed up your website.
2. Focal Points
When your website loads, what’s the first thing on the page that grabs your attention? Is it your logo? Your photo? A banner ad?
Having the wrong element of your site as the focal point can distract people from the item you want them to take action on, so pay careful attention.
If you’re having problems finding your focal point, load up your website and close your eyes. Then, when you open your eyes again, take note what part of your site your eyes go to first.
If you’re looking for a more professional approach, Crazy Egg’s eye-tracking software is a great service you can purchase and run on your website because it places a heat map on your website, successfully showing you where people click.
3. Visual Appeal
You’ve probably heard the sayings, “content is king” or “design doesn’t matter.” Neither are true. Recent studies have shown that the visual appeal of your site makes a measurable impact on its effectiveness.
For example, some Canadian researchers discovered that people make a decision about whether or not they like your site within the first 1/20th of a second.
Since you don’t have much time to make a positive impression with your website, make it count.
4. Color Schemes
Since each color of the rainbow affects the human brain in different ways, especially when people are making purchase decisions, something as simple as choosing the wrong color for your site can hurt your sales.
To prevent this, you’ll want to study the psychological effect colors have on people. For more information, here are two great resources:
5. Website Readability
This section involves 2 parts:
First, you need to make sure that your audience can understand your writing, meaning, you must write easy-to-read sentences by avoiding complicated words. In general, use the simpler word, if it exists, always.
Second, you must cater your content to how people read online. Let me explain. Jakob Nielsen discovered that people read websites in a modified “F” pattern, meaning they scan each page with their eyes in roughly the shape of a capital letter “F.” Placing your critical content within that area of your site will help drastically.
For example, see figure 1:
Figure 1. See how people read in a modified “F” pattern?
6. Check out the Competition
Everyone has competitors, so spend some time reviewing their sites and ask yourself these questions:
- What are they doing differently than you?
- How does their site compare to yours?
- Is it more professional looking?
- Do all of them use a similar color scheme and design style?
- What keywords are they using that you aren’t?
Arming yourself with this competitive research helps you in three ways…
First, remember, not all of your website visitors come to your site first. Some will be aware of your competitors, so knowing about their experiences will help you make your site more effective.
Second, studying your competitors can reveal your weaknesses. Whatever they may be, study them. Ask yourself why they are doing things differently and determine if doing something similar (but better) would help your site.
Third, it helps you find ways to take advantage of your competition’s weaknesses. For example, if their site is out-dated, improve yours. Or if they’ve overlooked a service or topic, take advantage of it.
7. Make your competition irrelevant
How easy would business be if you didn’t have any competition? Real easy, right?
The next step is to identify ways you can make your competition irrelevant. There are two key ways to do this:
First, think about how you can position yourself so that you’re the market leader. To do this, niche down your topics until you have no competition. For example, if you’re a web designer, you could become a web designer for litigating lawyers.
Second, you could offer more value than your competition by finding unique services and products or by improving the value of your current services and products.
Either way, how you do this will vary based on your individual needs. For more information on positioning, I suggest you check out the book Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
Converting your evaluation into action
Once you’ve completed your website evaluation, outline your potential improvements, create a timeline for the roll out, and spend time testing and tweaking each modification before implementing the next change.
And remember, if you do it right, you’ll be able to increase conversion rates, attract more customers, and build your audience.
Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt