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10 Ways To Tell If Your Website Is Frightening Small Children

Some websites should come with a warning label.

I talk to a lot of people about marketing strategy every day, and I’m fascinated by the different perceptions people have regarding their websites. We marketing people seem to fall into two main camps when it comes to our websites: paranoid and delusional. Among the paranoid, I’ve talked to executives who think their website is terrible compared with their main competitor, yet they stack up quite well to an outside observer. The temptation for the paranoid is the change their website almost weekly in pursuit of the latest widgets, plugins and content. Among the delusional, I’ve talked to marketing VPs with horrible websites who believe design doesn’t matter. “Look at the number of leads we’re getting,” they’ll tell me. But how many more leads would they get if 52% of their visitors weren’t immediately blinded or hospitalized upon viewing their homepage?

Why Design Matters

Your website is your first line sales rep. If you are an e-commerce, cloud or SaaS company, your website might be your first and only sales rep. Is there a difference if your sales rep shows up to a demo wearing a suit or wearing a stained Tenacious D concert tee? The rep in the t-shirt might still win the demo, but your product and your relationship needs to be inordinately strong. With a bad website, you could be losing deals before you know you’re even in them.

How Can I Tell If My Website Is Frightening Small Children?

The problem with design and marketing is that they are very much like religion and politics–everyone thinks they have the one right solution and no one agrees what that solution is. So I’m going to offer a very quick list for you to perform a gut check.

Note: It’s important that you don’t perform this analysis, but that you ask someone unconnected and objective to provide this feedback to you. It can’t be a top executive because they are often too isolated. It can’t be your marketing team because they are married to the status quo. It can’t be your top sales rep, because he or she is too focused on the competitor of the day to be objective. It can’t be your IT department unless you want to end up with pink Verdana fonts thrown onto a blinking yellow background.

Answer the following 10 questions and you’re 80% of the way home:

  1. Can you instantly tell what your company does before you scroll or click to the “About us” page?
  2. Do you use Flash or any other kind of splash or animated welcome screen? If so, no one using an iOS device can see your site and another 25% will leave just on general principle.
  3. Does your site have auto-play video, music or other annoying scrolling marquee types of animations? Stop right here and remove them before you finish reading this blog post.
  4. Does your site use pop-up advertising or sign-up windows? If yes, are you a spammer selling get-rich-quick “information” products or a personal injury lawyer?
  5. Is your color palette complimentary, inviting, easy to read and use no more than five or so colors? If you’re a Microsoft fan, don’t be tempted to use blue and white like 90% of all the other copycats. Ditto black and red, Oracle fans.
  6. Are you so worried about SEO that your site is 100% text, jammed with spammy keywords and includes completely unusable navigation? You need to design for real human beings, not search engines. Search engines will never buy your products anyway.
  7. Do you need to scroll to get to the good stuff on a 1024 screen? Negative bonus points if you have to scroll horizontally.
  8. Are you dishing up PDF files instead of faster loading and easier to digest dynamically created content?
  9. Do your graphics look like something out of the Microsoft Word clip art file? Do the photos look like stock photos from the early 90s (the free ones always do)?
  10. Does your content at least seem to be written by someone who is a native English speaker?

ROI on Website Design

There is real return on investment for website design. Here’s a quick back-of-the-napkin sketch of a current client. They get about 1,000 uniques a month and 20 lead forms. By decreasing their bounce rates with better design and clear communication, they are now getting 35 lead forms each month. What would the impact be on your business if you could almost double your web leads? I bet that would feel pretty good.

How are you stacking up against your competition? If you need an objective–albeit potentially snarky–objective third party to take a look at your website, call me today. We can arrange a 34-point analysis of your website and compare it to your top three competitors for even more fun.

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Phone: 719.266.2415