This is a collection of tips and advice that didn’t deserve their own page but are too important to leave out.
Web design tips
If you use WordPress, good quality plugins and a good theme, you’ll have few web design problems. Forget about making trivial tweaks to your design. Concentrate on getting your website content right.
Unless you’re a real expert, a site filled with bells and whistles says. “I’m an amateur, I don’t know what I’m doing, trust me at your peril.” So if you’ve chosen a good theme, don’t tinker. Just concentrate on getting the content right.
Chop your content into chunks and sections
Make your text as easy to read and easy to understand as you can. Each section should have its own headline and it should cover one topic. If you talk about several topics in the same sentence, paragraph or chunk. That sentence or chunk will be hard to follow and more difficult to understand.
Write your headlines in a way that helps your reader navigate to the part of your page that interests them. your headline should describe what’s in the paragraph below it.
Make your headlines alone tell the whole story
As a reader scans your page, they should get a good overview of what the page is about. Make sure they can tell, from the headlines, if they want to read or skip this page.
Successful websites are not beautiful
Look at the most successful websites in the world. I’m talking about Amazon, Facebook, Google and the like. Few of them are beautiful. But they do make it easy for their visitors to do what they needed to do. Successful sites care more about usability than beauty. Successful sites don’t use bells and whistles or the latest design fad.
Make your site look professional, not beautiful. Enable your site visitors to find the information they need and to contact you if they want to. And make sure they can do that with as little fuss as possible.
Mailing list popups
Did a mailing list popup ever annoy you? If you use one on your site will it annoy your site visitors? Very few hard facts are available about how well these work on small low traffic sites. On a large site with a lot of traffic, these popups do increase the percentage of visitors that sign up.
So should you use a mailing list popup on a small low traffic site? No. You’ll annoy every visitor your site gets, and the extra signups won’t engage with your emails.
A bribe to subscribe
A good way to get people to signup for your mailing list is to bribe them with a freebie. For a low traffic site, this makes much more sense. Make sure your freebie appeals to your ideal clients. If you’re a graphic designer you could make a freebie titled “How To Choose A Graphic Designer”.
You’ll now have useful things to say to the people who’ve signed up for your list. You also know they’re interested in your services. Unless they’re a competitor trying to figure out how come you’re doing so well :-)
Your footer is a safety net
If someone scrolls right to the bottom of your web page. And they haven’t found anything that interests them, they might leave your site. So make sure you put links to your most useful stuff in your footer.
If you have a blog, link to your most popular blog posts and add a search box too. Also, link to information that your visitors and clients need to find. Such as your contact details. An empty footer is a wasted chance of keeping a visitor browsing or helping your site visitors find what they want.
How big is your business?
Are you a freelancer, small business or medium-sized business? Your site visitors want to know how big your business is, why not tell them? Look your best, but don’t deceive your prospects about the size of your business.
Use understandable navbar labels
Navigation bar labels are doors to more information. Make them obvious. Make it easy to understand where the user will go after clicking the link. For instance use portfolio not “things I’ve been doing lately”.
Images should increase users understanding
Images make your post look more interesting and keep the reader’s attention. But, don’t use generic photos. Use mini info-graphics that add to the users ability to understand what the post is saying.
Write as if you were explaining this to a friend
Write your website text as if you were talking to a friend. If your text seems hard to understand, ask a family member or a friend to read it out loud. If they stumble on words or get confused, ask yourself. Could I have worded my text in a simpler, easier to understand way? If so, change it.
The purpose of your website
Your entire website should have a Primary Purpose. And each post you write should have a Most Wanted Response. Decide what the primary purpose of your site is. And decide what would be the most wanted response you hope to get from your site visitors. Build your entire site around these two.
An example. The primary purpose of my website is to win new clients. The most wanted response from my site visitor is. For qualified prospects to join my mailing list. So I can build their interest in my services. And win them as a new client.
Get rid of clutter
Remove everything from your site that competes with your primary purpose. Your site should not contain any unimportant stuff. Before you add any content to your site ask, what job is this content designed to do? For instance, my site’s primary purpose is to get people to join my mailing list? Or my site’s primary purpose is to get prospects to contact me for a quote.
Everything on your site should work towards achieving this primary purpose. Or achieving the most wanted response from your site visitors. Don’t let unimportant stuff compete with the work your website is doing. Your website must achieve your most wanted response. Don’t put any obstacles in its way.
Your call to action text should complete the sentence I want to…
I want to: Get a Quote
I want to: Download The Freebie
I want to: Join The Mailing List
I want to: See The Pricing Page
Mistakes, typos, and grammar
On the main business pages of your site, make sure you proofread every word and paragraph for errors. These pages are important so make no mistakes!
If you write weekly blog posts for your site. Your prospects might be more forgiving of a few minor errors. Aim at getting the post done, not perfection. Your clients will spot your mistakes. And every mistake you leave in your writing is one more reason to use your competitor, instead of you.
Should you link to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter?
Use share buttons. There are two types of social media links. You can send your site visitors away from your site and towards your Facebook page. Or you can add a share link that lets people tell their Facebook friends about you. My advice is to use social media “share” buttons that let people Tweet a quote from your site etc. Don’t send them away from your website, to your social media page.
“I’ve found a great blog post, should I link to it?”
That depends. But remember you’re in business. Would you expect to see this sign in a shop window…
Tastier, cheaper ice cream! Next door ->
Google and your site visitors like you to link to good quality content. But first ask yourself, will this result in me losing a client? If the information is in an article or blog post, could you write something similar yourself?
That way your site visitors still get the information and you don’t lose them from your site.
My rule of thumb. Link to good content from your blog posts, but not from your business pages.
Use the word “you”
Don’t beat about the bush, talk to “you” the reader. Don’t talk about “business owners” or “people”. Look for ways to address the reader as “you”. Don’t say “many business owners hate marketing”. Say “do you hate marketing?”.
Don’t say “the statistics tell us 4 % of clients care about in price alone”. Say “are you afraid you’ll lose the work if you don’t drop your price? You need better prospects.”
Format for easy reading
Short sentences are easy to read.
If you can’t make a sentence shorter — try breaking it up — with different formatting techniques. Your aim is to … make the sentence easy to read … even if you have to use unusual techniques (that your English teacher wouldn’t like). Don’t go over the top with this idea. It’s like seasoning your dinner, use just enough (and only when you need it).