By Fairhead Creative — Get free updates on new posts here
This is a call to the perfectionists, the maximizers and the big picture thinkers.
Sometimes, the big picture can feel so big that deciding on a detail to start with can feel like a real challenge.
Back when I was in college, one of my lecturers had a strange rule. He didn’t allow artists to draw until they had scribbled all over a full sheet of paper. He realized that when his students started their work with the big picture alone, they would be timid in their lines. Their lines would be soft, and ‘furry’. Their progress would be slow and unsure.
By scribbling across a sheet of paper before getting started, artists loosened up. They would use their tools with confidence.
Scribbling was a fast track to confident lines and better art.
Just as a good artist has to get every single detail right on that canvas, a businessman or businesswoman has to get every single little thing right when first setting up in business in order to succeed.Richard Branson
To get those details right, you need to move forward confidently towards your big picture.
With a few hours a week, you can make big changes to some of those details. Details that include your site’s code, speed, bounce rate, audience connection & customer confidence.
This list is your fast track to confident change and a better website. Choose at random from this list. You’ll be able to fill in the other details on that canvas as you go.
Some of the tweaks take a little longer than others, but they’re all designed to be quick and effective.
This list covers:
Let’s get started!
These tweaks should help reduce your bounce rate, which is the measurement of how many visitors leave your site with no action.
If it’s not readable, visitors will leave. Check the text size, to make sure it’s large enough. Make sure you allow your visitors to resize your text with their browser. Em-based font sizes allow for more flexibility then Px-based font sizes.
Also be sure that your text contrast is high, but not stark. Too soft, and you’ll strain your visitors’ eyes. Too stark, and your dyslexic visitors will have a hard time reading it.
Pure black text on pure white backgrounds can cause words to swirl around or blur together for these visitors.
‘Responsive’ means that your content will adapt to different screen sizes. If yours isn’t responsive, it’ll be a pain to use on a smartphone or small tablet.
When so many sites are responsive now, visitors may leave your site to find one that is.
Pop-ups have long had a reputation of being sketchy. ‘Sketchy’ isn’t a word you want associated with your website. Trust is integral to conversions.
Remove those pop-ups to remove yourself from any such stigma.
Navigation needs to be easy to use. When navigation is confusing or too ‘clever’, users won’t bother with it. They’ll leave for something that’s easier to figure out.
Don’t underestimate laziness online. Users are becoming lazier about these things, year over year.
You are going to get judged by your cover online.
If your design doesn’t look great, expect judgement for it.
All things being equal, visitors will choose the site with the better presentation. A easier interface and more intuitive layout could be the deciding vote.
Content is often organized around the business behind a website, not the visitor. Replace the ‘organization down’ architecture with ‘user up’ architecture. Organize content around the user, making them feel central to the structure.
Challenge naming conventions in your site. Try to use language your visitors are familiar with, rather than industry jargon.
Understanding audience intent will go a long way towards helping you lower your bounce rate. Serve content to your users as your users have a need for it. This is in contrast to serving it in logical chunks, as you would have them consume it.
Look at your website through the eyes of your visitors. Think about the timing of your content delivery.
Over time, active websites have a habit of racking up “stuff”. Question every element of every page, as you go through your site. Be clear about what the key goal is of every page.
If an element of a page is distracting away from that key goal, remove it. Otherwise, your visitors may get distracted, and they may leave because of it.
Now, in general I’m against hijacking browser controls. Your visitors understand how their technology works. They have expectations from that technology when they perform actions on your website. Buttons should change the state of content, scrollbars suggest scrolling is available, etc.
Forcing content a new window goes against their expectations. I make an exception in this case, though. I prefer new windows for external links, so that visitors don’t have to “leave” your site.
If you do this, I encourage you to make a visual reference to it. Use an icon with the links that force external windows. This will let them know that there’s something different about that link.
404 pages and empty search results pages are two key offenders here. Form success pages are just as bad.
On these pages, there’s often no effort to keep a visitor on your website. If you’ve managed to get them on your site, don’t give them reasons to leave by leaving them hanging.
If visitors can’t find the page they’re looking, help them find it, or suggest similar content. If a search yields no results, show them alternative searches. Or perhaps things that other searchers found useful.
If they’ve completed one of your form, that means they just filled out a form of yours. They’re in a convert-y mood: give them more of your best content.
In this next section, we’ll cover ways to better connect with your site’s visitors. Onward!
It scares me how often I speak to people with no analytics on their websites at all.
If you do nothing else, install Google Analytics. Without any customizations at all, you’ll get basic data about visitors. Things like top pages, bounce rates and geography all come with no work needed on your part.
Your unique selling points should be clear right away.
If users don’t know what you bring to your community, they’re unlikely to stick around to figure it out.
Your website content exists solely to connect with your audience.
If it’s truly written for them, they’ll read it. If it’s written for yourself, it’ll come off as unrelated, pushy or salesy.
While we’re talking about creating for your users, revamp your existing content with the same theme in mind.
Use their vernacular in your copy, and use images that they can recognize and relate to.
Maybe you have new content coming out next week. Or perhaps you’re selling something and your visitors may not be quite ready to pull the trigger.
Let’s assume that your upcoming content will really help them. Let’s assume that your product is going to improve their lives.
They deserve to have you wrap back around with them and connect them with those things. Give them a way for you to connect with them when the time is right. Email lists, Facebook Groups, whatever is most comfortable for your audience. Just don’t lose interest in them, and don’t let them lose interest in you.
It’s easy to impose a rules on yourself. One that I sometimes fall victim to is to think once I make a post, it’s got to be the way that it is forever. If it didn’t work great, it just didn’t work great. I don’t know why we do this to ourselves.
If you have a great page or piece of content that isn’t getting the results you want, rewrite it so that it does. Who says we can’t?
This is a favorite of mine. Pick up the phone and talk to an actual customer.
What better way to gauge how they feel about your website than literally talking to them?
I don’t think everyone should be everywhere all the time. I think everyone should be where they’ll be most effective.
If you try to spread yourself too thin, you won’t be effective. Be where your customers aren’t, same thing.
Choose a social network that your visitors use actively, and be there. Relationships > tools.
If you’re getting traction with certain pages, don’t be afraid to offer your visitors more of what they love.
If you offer a service or product that’s related to what they’re responding well to, it’s just good manners to let them know about that service.
Particularly on longer pages, I know I can forget about offers further up the page. Share them again down at the bottom so that you don’t lose visitors who are ready to convert.
You’ll want to team up with a user experience specialist to do this one. By using specific techniques to learn more about customer behavior, you’ll get a thorough understanding of your audience. You may learn new ways to better connect with them.
Great! Now we’ve connected with your audience, let’s boost their confidence in you, and in what you have to offer them with your website.
Wherever possible, back up the claims you make, and the offers you make, with real proof. No “we’re the best” stuff without proof.
Be results-driven. People like results.
Having easy to find contact details makes you real in the world your visitors live in. It makes you more approachable. It gives the confidence that, should anything ever go wrong, they can reach you.
If you buried your contact details deep in a subpage, you’re giving an impression. The impression that people can contact you, but that you’d rather they didn’t. Nobody wants to feel like they’re imposing. Visitors may go elsewhere if you make them feel that way.
No available contact details makes you seem sketchy. You could be anyone, and that anonymity will make you less trustworthy.
Giving people a deal is great - as long as the deal is clear. Your “super sale” for only $99 may seem appealing. Especially if you can show it normally costs $199. Less so if it’s normally $100.
Assure your visitors you’re not taking them for a ride by being clear.
When you ask for an email address, assure them you won’t spam them or sell it. Same for phone numbers, and so on. While these claims are rarely provable, simply saying them when most don’t can go a long way.
Make it clear what’s in the other side. When you click a link, fill in a form or change a tab, there needs to be a certain expectation before you click it.
Which of these two links are you more likely to click?
“Get directions to our office.”
If you’re looking for directions to our office, the second one is a no-brainer. You wouldn’t click the first one no matter what you want to do.
This is important when you introduce email marketing into your website. When crafting your emails, it’s easy to assume things of your audience. They just signed up on your website, so they must know why you’re emailing them, right?
In actual fact, by the time your visitors next check their inbox, they may have completely forgotten about you. Perhaps they signed up for multiple things that day. Perhaps they don’t even check their inboxes every day.
In any of these cases, it’s critical that you remind them who you are and why you’re emailing them. Otherwise, you’re going straight into the spam folder.
In general, short forms are better than long forms. Long forms look like a lot of effort, whereas short forms look like a minimal amount of effort. Your abandon rate will increase with every field you add to your forms.
Do you need a “First name” and a “Last name” field? Or could you reduce the number of fields by simply asking for “Name”?
When Apple created the original iPod, Steve Jobs had a rule for its interface. He wasn’t happy with it until he could find a particular song within 7 seconds.
Make tasks easy to complete. If you designed your site to provide information, get them to the information they need as quickly as possible. With the least amount of scanning and clicking as possible.
Try to avoid common pitfalls. Things like auto-focusing on input fields with no labels (placeholder text disappears when you select a field), leaving users to guess what field they’ve selected.
When you know what questions your visitors have as they have them, you’ll appear to understand them. Understanding builds trust.
People buy when they have a need + trust. Communicate with your visitors to understand what causes their hesitations. Learn what questions they have, and answer them at the points in time those questions arise.
At the bottom of your pages, or after they’ve converted, be their guide. Visitors are more likely to jump into a deeper relationship with you if they feel you leading them with confidence.
In this section, we’re going to take a look at some of the elements of your site that may need tidying up.
If you’ve got the kitchen sink in there, alongside your latest tweets and every social network under the sun, consider clearing up a bit.
At this point you should have some pretty good content throughout your website. You should at this point also have analytics installed on your site.
Identify which your top pages are, and tighten them up. Make sure you’re saying exactly what you mean, and that it’s some of your best work.
You know the ones. The ones that are they just because they have to be. Or the ones that you’re just not that into. Maybe it’s a Contact page, or a Terms & Conditions page.
Every page could technically become a landing page for someone, somewhere. Make sure all of your pages are at their best.
We’re tipping our toes into testing here, but we won’t go far since this is just a tweak. Try swapping out your headlines for alternate ones. See if your conversions go up or down. Try drawing attention to another part of your website, and see if your conversions go up or down.
Consider diving deeper into this one. Work with a user experience specialist to test multiple variations of your pages at once. That data will help you determine what performs best.
Some of your content may never be useful to anybody again. Perhaps it’s for a service you no longer offer. Maybe you tried an idea out and it failed spectacularly.
Consider revising that page of content to instead point to something that’s worth visiting. Or make it a redirect to related (but successful) content.
Most websites run on a content management system of some sort. Many website owners don’t bother updating those content management systems.
Go run your updates. To your system, to your plugins, the lot. Don’t leave your site vulnerable to attack by staying on a dated popular system.
In some circles, AdSense has a bit of a stigma against it. It can sometimes say “I’m not big enough to get advertisers but I really want some money”.
If you run in those circles, consider ditching AdSense. If the stigma is true, it’s not going to make you much money anyway.
Do you have any ‘quick fixes’ and ‘patches’ on your site? They’re possibly about as stable as any ‘quick fixes’ and ‘patches’ you may have on your car.
Get them looked at and make your website run more smoothly.
If you wrote any of your content yourself, consider having a copywriter check through your site’s copy. You may not notice mistakes in your writing, but if your visitors do, it’ll be a big turnoff.
Poor visuals say to your visitors that you don’t care. Imagine yourself walking into a shop that didn’t bother displaying its products properly. Imagine the store owner picking his teeth in a sweaty old wife beater.
Make sure you’re giving a great impression to your visitors. A great impression is about them, not you: it shows them that you care about them.
Phew! I hope that some of these tweaks will be familiar to you, and I hope you find some of these tweaks genuinely helpful. None of them take very long to perform, and they should all give your site a noticeable improvement in performance.
The last 10 tweaks in this list will need your web develop on board, so I’ve created a PDF of them to send on over. These last 10 tweaks should make a noticeable decrease in your site load times.
Bookmark this list, so that you’ll come back to it and not forget any of the tweaks. Share it with your friends on your chosen social networks too, there’s a lot of tweaks that I’m sure they’ll benefit from too.
Are there any tweaks that you think should be added to the list? Email me and let me know. I’ll add them and attribute you to the suggestions.
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There’s a lot of stuff to do to make your web presence work.
A lot of it may be entirely new to you.
You can’t just wing this stuff. Well, you can, but you’ll discover very quickly how ineffective that is.
But - if you have all this spelled out for you, step-by-step, you can see exactly how to make this work.
We’ve created that step-by-step guide for you.
It’s yours already. No charge. All you need to do is download it.
If you’re not sure it’ll be worth it, or if you think it’ll just be one long pitch, that’s understandable.
There’s a lot of that in our industry.
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So download it now, while it’s still available, and let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help you succeed.