Five ways to improve your business website

Image of Microsoft's first website, circa 1994.

by Karen Newcombe

Why are so many websites so awful? 

Some appear to have been sitting untouched for ten years or more. 

Sometimes you can’t tell what a company does. 

Sometimes you can’t find out where the firm is located, or who works there, or who their clients are. 

Many business sites use a tone of voice that is out of alignment with the service or product offered. Some businesses try to sound professional by using the wrong kind of language — often the bigger the company, the more a pseudo-legal or jargon-filled style of diction is chosen. The more formal or obscure the language, the more it pushes people away. 

It’s not hard to improve most websites. Here are my five top tips for getting started:

1) Don’t be annoying. Get rid of intro pages and popups. When I reach an intro page showing nothing but a company logo, I leave. Same for popup boxes. If I can’t land on a home page without clicking on popups or waiting for other pages to clear out of the way, I am gone. With my wallet. 

2) Speak plainly. Tell your firm’s story in clear, plain, friendly English. What do you do? Why do you do it? Many business sites do not explain this basic information. In some cases the info is there, but it’s written in gibberish. We’ve all seen them: “Acme optimizes cross-platform blatherings in order to upswarm marketplace stellifications.”  I’m sure it does. Good bye. 

3) Explain who you are and who your people are. I’ve visited thousands of websites that don’t say who works at the firm or how to reach them. Some companies only list the board of directors, but I don’t need to talk to the Chairman Emeritus, I need someone in the consulting division. There are few situations where a firm needs to hide staff information, and most of those have to do with national security. Firms spend thousands annually to send people to conferences, meetings and civic events in order to build networks and share contact information. Why isn’t that contact data on the website?

4) Answer your client’s questions. One of the best opportunities for building confidence in your brand is by answering clients' questions on your website. How will you solve my problem? How do you set your pricing? Is your product what I need for my situation? Does it match my search criteria? What do you do if my problem isn’t solved? How do your services or products compare to those of your competitors? What’s going to happen once I hire you? What is the process? What happens after we’re done? 

Every day people call your business and ask questions, dozens of them. Start answering them on the website, and you’ll have enough content to build your site for years. Every question is an opportunity to help potential clients feel confidence in your abilities or products. Building that confidence is what your marketing effort is all about–preparing the customer to be ready when you reach the point of sale. Your website represents you 24/7/365, from anywhere in the world, so even when your salespeople are asleep, your site is working.

5) Tell stories. I want to know what it’s like to work with you, or what your product does, so tell me–don’t assume I know already. Every company has stories about the big horrible mess that finally got solved, the tough regulatory situation that had an unexpected ending, the great project that went perfectly from start to finish. Every employee has reasons they chose to do this work, what they’ve learned over time, what their best jobs were. These are the stories that engage potential clients, and make your services and people real to them. Storytelling is perhaps the most powerful marketing tool available, and there are plenty of ways to tell those stories - through words, through visuals, through video. 

Have you checked your site lately? Don’t rely on someone down in IT to just take care of it–look at it yourself. 

Go forth, and make your site better!  


232QAWS© Karen L. Newcombe 2016     Email:   Phone: 954-428-5457