Your business website is essentially your storefront, business card and most significant marketing piece all rolled into one. How it affects your visitors and customers is critical to your success. Provide a memorable experience and customers are sure to return time and time again. And above all remember that people come to your website or blog for one reason, and one reason only. What’s in it for them? You need to be sure that you are providing answers to questions and solutions to problems or they won’t stay. Worse, they won’t return.
Make your website interactive.

As the Internet continues to grow and evolve it’s becoming more important to create a community around your business. To accomplish this you want to engage your visitors and customers. This can be accomplished a number of ways.

You can:
• Provide a forum. If your site is built on the WordPress platform there are several really great forum plugins available.
• Post surveys or polls.
• Enable visitors and customers to review or rank items. For example a “How valuable was this article?” question and a scale of 1 to 5 stars or a ranking from 1-10.
• Offer a blog and inspire comments and feedback. And this is important, post to that blog at least 2-3 times each week! Your visitors love fresh and relevant content and so do the search engines!
• Host contests and sweepstakes
• Publish video and audio content as well as written content. This gives users another way to access you and your personality.
Make sure your website provides value.

People go online for a number of reasons. They go online to research a potential purchase, to seek solutions for a problem they’re having and to be entertained. If your website provides all three; products, information, and entertainment then you’re in terrific shape. The good news is your content can provide both the information and the entertainment and when written well, can also inspire purchases. Here are a few ideas to provide value for your customers and prospects:
• “How to” articles, videos, and audio
• Tips articles, videos, and audio
• Case studies
• Workbooks and reports
• Interviews with experts
• Product reviews

Make sure your website is easy to navigate.

I cannot stress this enough! It takes a visitor about 20 seconds to make a decision about whether they’re going to stay on your website or click away. If your site is laid out nicely, with products and services, information, prices, FAQs, and content easy to find then people are more likely to hang out – the longer they stay on your site the more likely they are to make a purchase or to return again. Be sure to install Google Analytics on your site so you can see and analyze your traffic. You will be able to track page views, visitor information, and conversion rates. You can also set goals that can help interpret data by comparing several factors at once. For example, you can calculate how many of your conversions (completed purchases) were generated by females between the ages of 18 and 24 who live in California. Did I mention that it is free?

To make your site easy to navigate consider:

• Keeping your site simple.
• Keep your pages uniform with the same options and appearance.
• If you have a lot of content, great! Use drop down menus and organize your content by topic for easier access. If your site is built on the WordPress platform thePageMash plugin is a wonderful tool for organizing your pages and dropdowns.
• Offer a search function where users can search for products, services, or content topics quickly and easily. Typically visitors will look for this in the top fold, so don’t place it so far down on the page or sidebar that it gets overlooked. When you have a lot of content, a search function is critical.
• Provide a way for users to easily go back to previous pages. A back key is an option however if every page has the same options and drop down menus, including the ability to quickly return to the home page, a visitor will always be able to find what they need.
• Test your website’s appearance on different browsers to make sure every visitor has a good experience. Browser Shots is a great free resource to test your website’s browser compatibility in one place. When you submit your web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will open your website in their browser. Then they will make screenshots and upload them to their central dedicated servers for your review.

Make your website easy on the eyes.

Ever visit a website and the text was so small or the colors so incompatible that you couldn’t read a word? Readability is critical to a selling website. Make sure:
• Your colors are easy on the eyes. Black and dark backgrounds are extremely difficult to read and many visitors will simply leave because they find they are struggling to hard to read the text. Yes, it may look cool, but does it work?
• Your graphics aren’t distracting. If you have too many flashing or rotating images, it distracts the eye from the real message.
• Keep formatting like underlining, bold and italics to a bare minimum. One of my pet peeves when landing on a site is to see a lot of underlined text. My first instinct is to always hover over it to see what the hyperlink is. Let’s face it; we are now trained to look at underlined words or sentences as a hyperlink. Finding that they are not can be both irritating and disappointing.
• Spacing between sentences and paragraphs is adequate. Make sure you have plenty of white space to give the eye a rest.
• Font size is large enough for people to read and font is easy to read

Give them a soft sell.

People expect to be sold to and they’re looking for it – they’re wary. Instead of hitting website visitors with a hard sell, provide information, solve their problems and show them the benefits of your products or services. They’ll be much more receptive and appreciative. You need to create that all important, “Know, Like and Trust” factor. People will visit your site to find out information, to find answers to questions and to see what is fresh and new in your business. Once they know, like and trust you, they will be willing to buy from you, or buy other products and services based on your recommendations if you are an affiliate marketer.

Creating a website that sells requires a structured approach and a desire to create the best experience possible for your visitors. Once you’ve created your website, consider testing it and asking associates, friends and family for their opinion.
For a free website consultation or evaluation (see… here is the soft sell!) please call us at Your Office On The Web, 888-719-6711. We are your partner in success.

Author's Bio: 

Denise Griffitts is the Founder and CEO of Your Virtual Assistant, a multi-VA firm and Your Office On The Web, a website design and development company. She is also the founder of Virtual Assistance University.