I’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.
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.
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.
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.