It can be difficult to impartially evaluate your own website. You know your business. Everything on your site probably makes perfect sense to you. Instead of evaluating the website from your perspective-- what you think is important about your business or products-- let’s put ourselves in the shoes of first time visitors.
If your website was a store, what kind would it be? A big-box retailer? A specialty boutique? Would it be more like a sports bar? or is your website the digital equivalent of having just hung your shingle on Main Street USA and now its sitting there... waiting for business?
Imagine a first time visitor strolling along and ducking into your shop to see what it is that you do. Ask yourself the following:
- Does your homepage invite visitors in? Your homepage is very much like your storefront display and signage. Does it make people want to come in and check you out or is it easy to ignore?
- Can a first-time visitor tell what your company does within a few seconds of having landed on your page? If they have to ask, they’ve probably already got one foot back out the door.
- Does it pass the blink test? In other words, is it interesting enough to keep a visitor clicking through to products/services/programs?
- Are they visiting for entertainment, an experience, or information? Can they easily find what they’re looking for? Since this is your website and not your shop, you won’t be there to say “Oh, yes! We have that. Let me show you.”
- How does your site feel? Is it tidy and clean? Cluttered and confusing?
- Does it offer an experience consistent with the type of store you’d like to be? Can visitors shop efficiently through a large catalog? Can they browse in a pleasant environment of exclusive product and/or information? Are there fun diversions and enhancements, more like that sports bar atmosphere?
- Does the formatting support the experience or distract from it? Typos and misalignments are charming on a kid’s lemonade stand. Not so much anywhere else.
- What about your site makes people want to stay? What drives them away?
Whenever you have the opportunity, ask your customers how you can improve. Have a trusted friend or family member visit your site and give you honest feedback. You can even conduct your own user testing. Give them a list of assignments to complete (search for a certain product, find the store hours, complete a request for a consultation, etc.) and see if they sail through or what stumbling blocks they hit.
In the case of your website, it’s OK to be your own worst critic. A thoughtful evaluation of how your website looks, feels, and functions is the first step in optimizing your online presence. With the proper adjustments, your website should be your number one salesperson 24/7.