By Patrick Llewellyn, CEO of 99designs
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. While most entrepreneurs today recognize the critical role having a website plays in attracting customers, many neglect to optimize it to ensure its performing at its best.
Consumers have grown increasingly impatient when it comes to using the Internet, so it is important to catch their attention early with content that will keep them engaged.
The good news is that a few simple steps can help you make the most of your website, and ensure it is serving as the most powerful marketing tool it can.
1. Don’t Bury the Lead.
Headlines should be short, simple and focused. Keep it snappy and always focus on your customers’ needs, not yours. It is critical to get your message across quickly.
“We’ve got a great team of professional lawn-mowers with great equipment ready to mow your lawn” – This is too long of a headline, and it’s about the business, not the customer’s need. Notice that you get seven words into the heading before reaching a word that is relevant.
Alternative: “Your grass. We cut it.”– This headline addresses the customer’s problem and the core offering straight on and in a length that can almost be absorbed without reading it. Feeling bold? Consider the extreme: “Grass. Cut.”
2. Apply the Inverted Pyramid of Messaging.
It has been proven that people are better able to absorb content in smaller chunks. It’s also proven that people rarely read websites thoroughly; they scan the content and they do it fast! Be sure you put the main points in headings (at the top of your pyramid) in a way that make sense even without having to read the detailed text for more background. Newspapers have been doing this for a century: The headline grabs your attention, the first line gives you a high level overview, and the more you read, the more detail you get.
- Your grass. We cut it.
- The lawn-mowing service that’s easy.
- Turn your stranded turf into your neighbor’s envy without any effort. Book one of our friendly lawn-masters and they’ll have your lawn tidy in no time.
- Master your lawn affordably.
- For as little as a few cups of coffee, you’ll turn a chore-filled weekend into one of leisure. Cutting grass is our passion. We’ll do it with a smile, for less.
- Book today. Done tomorrow.
- Book your lawn master online today and we’ll have them at your door tomorrow. They’re fast, they’re efficient and they’re dying to surf your turf.
Read the above text again, but only read the headings. You get the entire business pitch very quickly. People will scan headings and only read paragraphs if something gets their interest. Make sure you get the key points across quickly.
3. Use Images that Enhance your Message.
While it sounds cliché, a picture IS worth a thousand words to a prospecting customer who may have never met you or heard about your business. Humans can process images much faster than words. Select graphics that are relevant to your business and can instantly help people understand what you do. If you cut grass, make it obvious. Show pictures of grass, a lawn mower and a damn happy customer.
4. Have a Call-to-Action and Make it Clear.
Do you want customers to buy something? Do you want their contact info? Do you want them to make a reservation? Make it very clear how they can do so. Put a large call-to-action near the top of your page and an extra at the bottom with a simple, clear action-oriented statement such as “Book now.” Use a color that stands out and you’ll be capturing customers in no time.
For businesses just starting out, your brand and website layout are critical as they lay the foundation for future success. These optimization tips can help companies at early and even later stages make great strides to optimize the potential of their website… and business.
Patrick Llewellyn joined 99designs in 2009 after a decade in boutique corporate advisory primarily working with Australian technology and new media companies. In January 2011 he was appointed CEO and led 99designs in April of that year through a $35 million + Series A investment round led by Accel Partners. To date, 99designs has hosted more than 350,000 graphic design contests and paid nearly $100 million to the community of more than 245,000+ designers around the world.