See that old-fashioned egg-timer over there?  Keep that in mind when you are designing or redoing your website.

Despite all the advances in digital technology, you can still buy one of these gems.  Why?  Because it still delivers the benefits that our time-starved lives seek.  This egg-timer:
– Has an obvious purpose;
– Is easy to read;
– Is simple to use;
– Needs no instruction; and
– Delivers the benefit the user wants.

The egg-timer does everything a good website should.  Anyone looking to measure time for an hour or less could pick up this timer and get started immediately.

And that’s another thing your website needs to do.   Engage the visitor immediately.  You have three seconds to do that.

That’s right.  Three seconds.

One Mississippi.  Two Mississippi.  Three Mississippi.  Ding.

Websites are subject to the 3-30-3 rule of online behavior.  Once the visitor lands on your website, you have three seconds to convince her that she’s landed in the right place before she hits the back button of her browser.  That’s just enough time to read a headline and maybe a sentence or two.

If you succeed there, the visitor may spend another 30 seconds looking around to determine if your site has anything of value for her.

If you pass that 30-second hurdle, you have 3 minutes to motivate her to act – to sign up for a newsletter, to buy a product, to start a free trial.

Simply put, your website needs to put your company’s best foot forward fast.

Seems easy, right?

Yet many companies trip themselves up.  Here are nine ways that company websites chase visitors away and how to fix them:

1.  TMI – too much information.  Many websites cram tons of information onto each page and have no focal point for the visitor.  The visitor gets overwhelmed, exhausts her 30 seconds wading through and bolts.

The Fix:  Ensure each web page has a specific purpose and stick to it.  Have your designer include plenty of white space and graphics that create a focal point to guide the visitor to the desired action.

2.  CIA-contrived navigation.  Some websites bury key information deep in the website.  Others vary the navigation from page to page or eliminate it on some pages.  You want the reader to spend her time on your website reading and learning, not searching.

The Fix:  Make menus and buttons easy to find and use.  Navigation should be intuitive – ask a 10 year old to find something on your website and see what happens.

3.  Lack of brand story.  Your website is your chance to build a connection with the visitor.  If there is nothing to set your company apart from competitors, then the prospect has no reason to buy from you instead of them.

The Fix:  Include your company’s story, mission and approach on your website.  Profile key employees.  Infuse the copy and graphics with the brand’s personality and key attributes.

4.  Typos and broken links.  Seriously people.  If your company can’t ensure the quality of its website, why should anyone trust the quality of your products or services?

The Fix:  Have someone proofread and test the links!

5.  Unavailable products.  Tempting buyers with unavailable products and no explanation lets them down and wastes their time.  Disappointment and frustration are not desirable associations for your brand.

The Fix:  Explain the unavailability if temporary or take the product off the website.

6.  The one-page website.  Prospects come to check out your company’s offerings.  A one-page website says the company can’t be bothered to inform them.  Like the old Head & Shoulders commercials said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

The Fix:  Set a deadline (soon!) to expand the website with good content and post the date on the website.  Provide contact information and invite visitors to contact you for more information until then.  Then meet the deadline!

7.  Outdated information.  A neglected website speaks volumes about the upkeep of your business.  Telltale signs are notices for events long past, abandoned blogs and expired copyright dates.

The Fix:  Create schedules to add content and to update the site.  Implement them.

8.  Contact forms.  Email marketers know that whenever you ask for anything more than the recipient’s email address, signup rates plummet.  When contact forms are the only way to get in touch, you lose many of the prospects your website worked so hard to gain.

The Fix:  Provide alternative means of contact such as a company phone number and a customer service email address that launches the prospect’s email program.  Email or phone contacts leading to real people are even better.

Do you have a website pet peeve or experience to share?  Please comment below!

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