Confluent Forms LLC, located in Easthampton MA, is a boutique branding, graphic design, web design, web development, Blogger development, and PHP/MySQL application development firm providing services to customers from the Fortune 100 to local non-profit organizations and academic institutions. Serving Western Massachusetts and beyond.

Your website can be your best salesman (but probably isn't)

by on July 18, 2013
Last updated on
Most websites aren't architected for success; instead they are designed to be "visually pleasing" failures. Rather than focus on the user and the user's goals when coming to the web site (for whatever reason they're coming to the site), the site was instead set up under the notions of required content, required features, search engine optimization, and looking nice.

Some of our conversations with companies that we reach out to for a website redesign go a little something like this:

Us: So how successful is your current website?
Them: Well, our fans think it looks good, it has all of the content that we need on it, and we're able to easily update our slideshow and pages. Beyond that we don't bother with it too much.*

(* they sometimes add that it shows up pretty highly when someone searches for them in Google)

Did you notice what was missing in their response? Any mention of customer or client captures? Any mention of goals being fulfilled (besides their ease of maintenance)? Any mention of success rates?

Success, and what constitutes a successful user visit, was not factored into the organization, layout, or design of the website.

The considerations of a successful website

In order to have a successful website you should always consider two things: the goals of the user in coming to your site, and your goals for your user when they get to your site.*

(* please remember that Search Engines aren't users)

A website, to be successful, must balance those two viewpoints, or better yet, combine them in a harmonizing way.  It should fulfill the goals of the user, giving them the information they seek, and then funnel them to the actions that have been identified by the website owner as goals.

Using a restaurant website as an example, people might come to the website to [see the menu, find location or contact information, make a reservation]. A goal for the restaurant might be to [book a reservation, sell a gift card, provide a map/driving instructions]. And what do you often experience when you go to restaurant websites? Outdated menus, Flash movies that are difficult to navigate, phone numbers that are graphic text so you can't click on it from your smart phone, annoying music playing... the website might be "cool" and look interesting, but it has failed to convert the visitor's goals into reality, or made them struggle to do so.

Bonus points for conveying intangible values

The reason that this is under "bonus points" is that goal accomplishment needs to be first and foremost. Once the website enables visitors to accomplish goals (both their own and the business's), then the added value of bringing experience, ambiance, aesthetic, etc. can be factored in. These considerations can not outweigh the goal fulfillment, they must be considered secondary, otherwise the look of your site will get in the way of the site's primary mission: to land you a customer.

Using Google Analytics to measure website success

Just like you would measure the success of an actual sales person in your business, you want to be tracking the success of your website. Is it reaching out to people and getting people in the door? Is it giving them the information they're looking for? And most important, is it converting them to the goals you've established?

Recently we hosted a Hangout on Air entitled Practical Google Analytics and Google Webmasters, the idea of which was to provide a means for looking at Google Analytics without being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data and charts available to you.

What did I recommend? Approaching the data with a set of goals for the user and a set of goals for your business.

A win-win scenario.

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