Tag Archives: website development

Keeping Prospects on your Website

PRI’m working with PR consultant, Chris Volz, and asked him to take a look at some websites and offer recommendations from a public relations point of view.  This blog is his perspective on how websites should best be constructed to produce a positive outcome. Websites are the public’s view into most businesses now, and usually their first encounter. It stands to reason that the first, and ongoing impression of the company, should be favorable to the public. These suggestions are appropriate for any business to assess their website.

From Guest Blogger, Chris Volz:

Old time PR and “Bounce Rates”

“Bounce rate is the percentage of visits that go only one page before exiting a site.” Google

The average person will spend 10-15 seconds on your website before moving on. Counting how many people visit your website is useless if the visitors move on in seconds without taking action. You have to hook them quickly with the information they seek and delivered how they want it . Most websites don’t do it.

Years and years ago when being trained in PR, one of the things you had to learn was how to write articles for newspapers. The entire story is in the first paragraph, everything after that is detail. This is not unlike how people digest information online now. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned over the years that apply to web design and development for business:  

Know your Public

Understand the demographic you are trying to reach and use the the appropriate language, artwork, and design for your web pages and social media platforms.

Know your Product Inside and Out

Know the benefits, advantages, pro’s, con’s and what makes it unique. Know it well enough to explain to a child briefly and make them smile about it.

Be brief

You may have reams of fabulous content. NO ONE WILL READ IT.  The main pages (Home, About, Services, etc.) should be limited to the most critical aspects your public wants and needs to know to do business with you. Save your industry expertise for blogs, white papers etc.

Be organized

Your website should flow in a way that makes sense. It is surprising to still see so many sites with content that is out of context. As an exercise, print all the pages of your website and put them on a wall. Does everything flow from one item to the next easily and clearly? Have someone who is not familiar with your company do this exercise with you and see if there are any missteps. You may not be able to see poor organization on your own website, but your audience will.

Be Professional

You are a professional… In your field. You are not a professional at web design, SEO, marketing, social media platforms. Chances are you don’t tune up your own car – for many of reasons.  Don’t tune up your own web site, social media etc. and don’t give the job to your niece in college because she “…is online all the time and understands it all”. Be a professional, hire a professional.

Be User Friendly

Again, this is where it helps to have someone else look at it. Old rule – “You can’t proofread what you write”. Let someone else walk through your site and see if its easy for them. Of course its easy for you, its your baby, but it might frustrate the heck out of me.

Make it easy

You want the contact, the customer, the sale.  Is your website designed to reach that goal? Are there clear calls to action? Is it clear and easy for people to do what you want them to do – call, come to an event, take advantage of a special, etc.? Is it written with your prospects as the audience or you?  If someone stays on your website at least 15 seconds, you have a better chance of converting them into customers. If your site is unappealing or cumbersome, they bounce!  

I hope you found these PR website tips helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

How Does Your Website Measure Up?

websitesWhich is Best for You, D-I-Y or Professional Website?

Have you ever gone to a website and been instantly turned off by the look or get frustrated looking for basic information so you navigate to another site that has what you are looking for?  I am surprised at the number of lackluster websites I see while searching the internet.  Sometimes I’m surfing as part of my business and sometimes as a consumer, but always with an eye toward form and function.  I’m not having a go at other businesses, but for many small business owners, there seems to be a gap between the recognition of the importance of a website and the resources allocated for it. Websites that are old and outdated, cluttered, poorly organized, or visually unappealing, trigger these questions:

* Is this business is new or struggling such that they have no funds to dedicate to their online presence?

* Is the business owner unaware of just how unimpressive their website is and the possible negative consequences of having a poor website?

* Does the business owner lack adequate knowledge about the importance of having a quality website for any business?

A company’s website is arguably the most important marketing tool in their suite of resources, to showcase their business and attract prospects. This is a storefront, if you will, without borders of time, space, and distance. According to Pew Research Center, 85% of adults in this country use the internet and well over half search the internet before they buy. That is an enormous number of people using this technology for everything imaginable. Even if most of  your business comes through referrals, those people who have been recommended to you are very likely to check you out online before doing business with you. If you website does not do your products and services justice, those prospects might choose someone else. Prospective clients and customers are not the only people checking you out online. Most businesses operate in an industry where other professionals are flowing business to other companies. Your website should be inviting to your entire audience and make it enticing to want to do business with you.

This blog is not about SEO, Search Engine Optimization, which is an important element of website health, but rather looking at the design and functionality of the site. What is the user experience when they get to your site? Is the first impression one that suggests a quality organization? Is there enough content on the site to encourage visitors to stay and interact? Is there a call to action to take the next step closer in the buying process? Is the site easy to navigate and find information about your products and services? Is it easy to read? Simple things like color, font size, and spacing can make the difference that converts visitors to customers or conversely to lost prospects.

If budget is a serious concern, I challenge you to think about how much is your image worth? That may be hard to quantify, but you probably spend money on other things to enhance your image…clothes, collateral, office location, etc. If it was clear that your website was not helping your image, you would be wise to dedicate resources to it. The level of resource allocation varies widely based on what you want to accomplish with your website. I would go so far as to boldly say – if you can’t afford any resources for a quality website, you may want to reconsider being in business, it is that important.

At the very low end, there are some decent D-I-Y sites that are better than no site at all. All you have to do is Google “cheap websites” and a bunch of options are there to choose from. If you are a start-up with truly nothing to spend on digital marketing, you are already good with technology sites, or you welcome a good challenge, this is an affordable option. Keep in mind that there is a reason these website services are so cheap. They are primarily based on prescribed templates that you fit your content into. They may have options to enhance the site, but you have to do it yourself and it is not always as easy as it seems. Think through what you need from a website, such as a “Contact Us” form that your prospects fill out and you receive. You may want to put up a gallery of images or video, special offers, or a lead capture system that a template doesn’t offer. You may have to hire someone to help you get the site the way you want it if full support is not available.

High-end professionally designed sites usually range between $3,000 – $10,000 to design and develop and the functionality is very robust. This could include messaging, high level strategy, logo and other graphic design, an integrated system, e-commerce, database, and any way you want your website to look and function. This is a great option for businesses that have the budget to dedicate to a fully customizable and highly polished web presence and the companies that offer this service do a fantastic job.

Mid-level professional sites – There is the option in between, where we fit in. You can have a custom-designed site at an affordable price. Our sites are designed and developed by professionals in the industry and we don’t use templates. We can make the site look and feel the way you want and have partners to handle the aspects we don’t do, such as branding, messaging, and graphic design.  This is an excellent choice for many small businesses who need a new or upgraded website, they are not going to do it themselves, but also don’t have thousands of dollars up front to pay for a site.

What is a website worth? How does your company use their website? Have you ever said to a prospect – “check us out online”? If you haven’t, is that because you don’t have anywhere “online” for them to go? Is it because you don’t have a very attractive or helpful site where sending possible clients there may not help your business? If you don’t think about inviting people to your site, is it because you are so accustomed to doing business the old fashioned way and haven’t yet caught up with the your audience is using the internet to search? If you are not sure how your website measures up, stay tuned for our next blog on “Your Website Report Card” and we will show you how to assess your own site. Of course, you can Contact Us for more information or to set up a complementary consultation and assessment of your website.