Once-over, or Makeover? – How Does YOUR Website Rate?
You never get a second chance to make that first impression. So why not make it an impressive one? People don’t always see your products and services as the fabulous things you know they are. What they do see though, is your home page. So should you give that home page a once-over – or a complete makeover?
Why are some websites successful at creating good qualified leads, selling their products and services, getting customers in the door and keeping customers coming back, while others are simply glanced at and abandoned? Or are so difficult to navigate that potential customers exit in frustration.
For example, why are Restaurant and Bar websites often particularly frustrating to users? How does your restaurant rate in user friendliness?
This is a subject dear to my heart. Being a Portland foodie, I eat out often, have a discerning palate, and like to share the experience.
But here’s what happened recently when perusing the web with a friend to locate a restaurant in the Pearl District. We wanted to find one that we hadn’t tried before. We started out by category, the first choices being Italian or Mex. We were appalled by how many restaurant sites had tacky looking graphics, unappetizing photos, and were hard to navigate. Many were slow to load, had outdated menus, outdated specials, or incorrect hours of operation. Some had whole sections of their website that were empty – no content. Others had typos, misuse of a.m./p.m.(such as: “Open for dinner 5pm till 12pm”), hard-to-find addresses, and even wrong phone numbers. Yet these restaurants are all located in Portland’s premier tourist attraction and dining location…the Pearl! My friend and I would simply move on to another site when we encountered too much of a problem getting information from one site. And it’s the same with any business. If people have difficulty finding something on your site, or if it looks unappealing or amateur – they will simply move on.
People assume that if a business does not place importance on keeping their public image current and fresh, that they probably have the same lackadaisical attitude towards customer service. A sloppily maintained, non-user-friendly website is seen as an indicator of the kind of service one can expect from that business.
A key point is being aware of how customers find your business. To return to the example of restaurants, many people these days use their smartphones to locate nearby restaurants and bars. Based on their GPS location, they can easily pull up the websites of nearby restaurants to check out their hours of operation, menus, prices, and happy hours. They want a phone number they can call, an address they can find, and even menus they can copy and text to friends. But many restaurant website designers seem unaware of these things. They embed addresses and phone numbers in fancy flash animation graphics, making them impossible to cut and paste. They make sites that are slow to load on mobile devices. They insert menus in pdf form, or set them in hard-to-read fonts. All of that means lost business.
What information do your customers want? I don’t know about you, but for me, when I’m looking for someplace to eat, I’m interested in specific things: 1) What kind of food is served? 2) What is the atmosphere like: intimate, formal, casual (photos are better than words)? 3) Is there a happy hour and what’s the menu? 4) What’s the regular menu with prices? 5) Is there a full bar, beer and wine, no alcohol? 6) Where is it located, what are the hours and is there parking? I like to see some of the food offered and what the restaurant looks like inside. I like to study the menu and get a feel for the type of experience I can expect. I could care less if the web design is state-of-the-art award winning with animated graphics or not. I just want a clean, professional, up to date, easy-to-navigate, easy-to-share site. And it’s true for any business. People are looking for specific information and facts. Of course, aesthetics are important and even essential to getting your message across. But not at the expense of presenting concise information and simple, clean, easy navigation.
There are many very simple solutions to all of these problems from a web design standpoint. There are many simple solutions from a business owner standpoint. Presenting your best public face doesn’t have to cost much.
So does your website need a once-over, or a complete makeover?
Call us for a review of your home page. We’ll pick up the tab.
What have some of your issues/experiences been trying to view, share or purchase from websites? We’d enjoy hearing your stories or simply getting your input.