Interesting meeting with a customer today.
They’re an existing business with offices in a number of countries and a website that’s supposed to be a business development channel.
Except it’s not developing business.
In this case one of the primary reasons is because the business itself hasn’t defined how it wants to be organised and how it wants to present itself.
It needs to define whether it structures itself along country lines or product/service offering lines. And that requires a previous decision on whether it wants to be seen as a ‘local’ or an ‘International’ company.
At the moment it’s not really leading with either products/services or geographic presence – and it could be either.
Importance of Structure
As a result, the website itself is pretty confused. The site structure navigation is not intuitive, with the result that visitors arrive and aren’t sure what to do next.
In some areas of the site services themselves are covered well, but seem to be only offered in one location, whereas in fact they’re offered in all.
So a visitor in Singapore, looking for a service the company provides in Singapore, would get the impression it’s only offered in Hong Kong.
Leading to a lost sale.
This is not a website problem, however.
The website is only representing the results of business decisions (or lack of them).
You can’t make a website define the business – the business has to define itself and then present that through the website.
Once those business decisions have been made the website design (structure and navigation, rather than graphics) becomes a logical process of representing them.
Each Page Needs an Objective
A second factor with the current site is that the individual pages don’t have clear objectives.
There are no calls to action, whether it’s to get a visitor to call for more information, fill in a form or send an email.
But developing effective calls to action requires that each page has an objective.
It’s all very well providing lots of information, but if people read it and don’t know what to do next they’ll click away.
Another missed sale.
So if you have an ‘About’ page, for example, what is its objective?
‘To give information about the company’ I hear you say.
Yes, but why? Is it to establish credibility? To show breadth of service offerings? To demonstrate experience? Or just because every site has an ‘About’ page?
And to each of those answers the response, again, would be ‘why?’.
For example, one reason for demonstrating breadth of experience would be to provide reassurance to a visitor that you can meet their requirements. If you’re successful then you’d want them to get in touch so you could sell services.
In this case the objective for your ‘About’ page is to get visitors to contact you. That’s the action you want them to take.
But in order for the page to meet its objective, you need to provide a way for visitors to do what you want. That would be a phone number or a contact form so they can call or email you. And a call to action – an invitation to call or contact you.
To be effective, then, each page on the site needs an objective, and a means by which it can be achieved. And it needs to be written and presented in a way that will achieve that objective.
Again, these are all business decisions that need to be taken independently of (and before) the website design is addressed.
Taking these decisions will define how the site is structured and result in it being much more user-friendly – and much more effective.
So if your company’s website is not producing the results you thought it would, have you taken the business decisions you need to take?