WEBSITE REVIEW



Marketing Tips Report 
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February 19, 2009
Issue #223
Website Review By Our Team OF Experts: www.Write-Ink.net 

Freelance writer and editor Adele Sims had a BIG problem:

The website she used to market her services wasn't performing the way she wanted it to, and she was finding herself putting up with a LOT of late-night drudgery and time away from her kids...

... with precious little money to show for her troubles. 

Luckily, as a subscriber to our Secrets To Their Success monthly online newsletter, Adele recently won a complete website review and overhaul from the entire Internet Marketing Center team!

So we went through Adele's website with a fine toothcomb, and found a number of problems that were likely harming her sales...

... and then gave her step-by-step advice for exactly how to fix them. 

But the advice we had for Adele will work for just about ANY website -- including YOURS -- so we thought we'd share some of it here, so you can use our recommendations to improve your own site's performance! 

First, here's what Adele's homepage looks like right now:



And here are SIX simple strategies that Adele -- and YOU -- can adopt IMMEDIATELY to improve your site's performance...

1. Do NOT hide your services behind a fancy "splash" page

As we quickly discovered, Adele's homepage, which contains critical information about her site and services, is NOT the first page that her visitors see when they arrive at her website.

Instead, she starts them off with an animated "splash" page, which has lots of attractive images... but absolutely NO copy.

So we get NO sense of what her site is about, or whether it can help us!

And that's a BIG problem, because a typical first-time visitor to ANY site is only going to invest a few seconds trying to decide if your site is relevant or not...

... and if you put a roadblock like a splash page in front of them that doesn't even identify what the site is called, they'll often not bother exploring beyond it!

Now don't get us wrong: we're all FOR using attractive images and appealing graphics on your website, but only when they're used appropriately, and NOT at the expense of your sales!

So we recommend that Adele take down her splash page as soon as possible. She doesn't need it, and it's likely harming her conversions.

2. Make sure your site design clearly reflects your business or product 

Our concern with Adele's site graphics and overall design doesn't end with her splash page. When we clicked through from the splash page to her homepage, we noticed that her site design doesn't effectively represent the servicesshe's offering.

In one corner of her header, she features an image of a globe, and in the other corner, an image of what appear to be fiber optics cables. These two images are then super-imposed on a dark green background that includes a hi-tech graphic treatment.

So based on these initial visual clues, we immediately assumed her site was for selling software, or offering computer repairs, or something similar. 

We definitely did NOT think "freelance marketing writer!"

Again, remember that your first-time visitors are looking for clues that will reassure them -- right away -- that they're in the right place.

If, even at first glance, they feel they've landed on a site that isn't offering the information they need, they'll often just leave again, rather than spend the time exploring further to see if it's relevant or not. 

So our second recommendation for Adele was to revise her header and color scheme, so it more effectively represents the nature of her business. 

3. Keep your navigation menu simple, and the menu labels clear 

A navigation menu that's clear and easy to follow is one of the key elements of any successful website. And while Adele's isn't bad, we think there are a couple of issues that she'll want to resolve.

First, with 15 different menu buttons on the homepage, she's literally overwhelming her visitors with choice!

If one of the first things you ask your visitor to do is decide what they want to do first from among 15 different options, they'll often become confused or flustered, and do the one thing that's really easy: leave the site again.

So we think Adele will benefit by grouping the content on her site under no more than 8 main categories, to eliminate many of her menu choices. 

This is the maximum number of choices you'll want to give your visitors on the homepage, to avoid making them feel disoriented or confused. 

And while narrowing her categories will certainly help keep visitors on her site, we think Adele should also work to improve her actual menu labels, too.

All menu labels should be really clear, and explicitly state what's behind each choice. You never want a visitor to have to guess where they might end up if they click a particular menu item.

So she'll want to eliminate labels that are vague or cryptic (like "Snap - Homonyms"), labels that could be interpreted in different ways (like "Hardcore Kids"), and labels that are just plain hard to read (like "Realestateagents").

Remember, site visitors don't want to have to think about what they're doing. 

They should be able to smoothly and seamlessly move around your site with NO surprises and NO mistakes, and clear navigation menus are the best way to facilitate that. 

4. TELL your visitors what your site is about, who it's for, and what makes itdifferent

We see this all the time: site owners, like Adele, whose first crucial lines of copy are "Welcome to my site!"

That welcoming approach may work for a brick-and-mortar retailer, like WalMart, but when it comes to a website, you've got MUCH more important work to do at the top of your homepage. 

Remember... the clock is ticking! Your visitor is only spending a few secondslooking for relevance, so don't waste your time with idle chatter...

... get to the POINT!

  • What is the main benefit of this site (in other words, what will peoplegain by sticking around)?

  • Who is this site for? Who will benefit from using it? 

  • What is unique or different about what you offer? In other words, what can I get from you that I won't get from other sites that offer similar services?
By addressing all of these questions, your visitors will know at a glance that they've come to the right place, and stick around to explore. 

And answering ALL of these questions right up front is really easy. You just need a nice big, benefit-rich headline right at the top of your homepage, that gives all of this information.

So we recommend that Adele remove the large "Home" label from the top of her site, and replace it with an attention-grabbing headline that tells people right away why they'll want to stick around.

5. Make sure your copy is scannable

Here's the sad fact about the copy that Adele worked so hard to create for her website: most people won't read it! And they likely won't read YOURS, either... 

Well, at least they won't read it word for word. 

The typical website visitor is an impatient person, and will likely just scan your homepage, looking for clues that will help them understand what the site is about.

So Adele will want to make sure she facilitates that quick scan as much as possible, by formatting her text so it can be absorbed in a glance.

How can she do that? Simple!

She just needs make sure she breaks her text into "chunks," and includes lots of subheads, bulleted list, and white space, in order to help guide her visitors' eye to the most important ideas on the homepage.

It also wouldn't hurt for her to add a bit of emphasis, too. Bolding the occasional word or phrase that expresses a key benefit will draw the eye right to that spot.

Finally, Adele can make her page easier to scan simply by reducing how widethe copy is. When text runs all the way across the website from left to right like it is now, it's more than the human eye can absorb at a glance. 

We recommend restricing homepage copy to no more than 650 pixels wide. 

6. Make it EASY for your visitors to contact you for more information

If Adele wants to increase the number of people who contact her for more information about her services, she'll want to stop asking them to go hunting around her website, looking for a way to get in touch with her.

For EACH additional click you ask your visitors to make, you risk losing up to 50% of them! 

So instead of burying a "contact us" button on her main navigation menu, we suggest that Adele include a contact form right ON the homepage that people can fill in to request more information about her available services.

While we would NOT recommend this approach for a long-copy salesletter or catalog site, it can be very effective for ANYONE who offers their services online.

What's Next For Adele? 

By adapting these six simple strategies, Adele will be able to increase both the number of visitors who stick around on her site to browse, and the number who contact her for more information about her services.

Not a bad deal for a few "quick fixes," right?

But this is just a small portion of the recommendations we had for Adele! 

In her full site review in Secrets To Their Success, we ALSO take a look at her business model and goals for her business, and put together a complete plan, showing her how to:

  • Introduce MULTIPLE streams of income to her site
  • Transform her information-focused site into a sales machine
  • User laser-targeted copy to build connections with her customers
  • Dive into pay-per-click advertising to snag all the traffic she wants
PLUS, we completely redesigned her homepage, to show her exactly how to adapt the changes we recommend. 

If you'd like to have access to Adele's entire 13-page site review, plus read dozens MORE website reviews that will give you literally hundreds of ideas for improving your own business, just go to:

www.SecretsToTheirSuccess.com

When you do, you'll ALSO discover how you can have your OWN website reviewed by our entire team of Internet marketing experts... for FREE! 

To your success,

 

The Internet Marketing Center Team


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