Times were different when I first starting writing copy for websites in 2005. The Internet was still fairly new at that time, and businesses were creating websites only because they felt like that’s what they needed to do — much like what people are doing now with social media. There wasn’t much strategy at that point or best practices to follow, so the tendency was to dump as much information as possible into a website and let people just take what they need.
But that approach doesn’t work anymore. We know this because of tools like Google Analytics, which shows us what people are clicking on, what they are not clicking on and how much they spend on each page. What we’ve realized is that visitors don’t care to know every last detail about our companies (and that’s ok because we don’t need to know every last detail about their company either).
Social media and mobile technology have changed the game. We now want our information quickly and prefer not reading long paragraphs with big words about irrelevant things like a company’s mission statement, and we would probably never click on a “links” page (soooooooo 2005) anymore because we’d rather let Google or Bing give us the most recent recommendations on which sites to visit. We hate sites that are slow to load (which is funny when you think of how spoiled we are compared to our dial-up connection days not that long ago!) and if you have a visitor counter on the bottom of your homepage, well, people are judging you. Just sayin’.
So we know what visitors don’t want — but what do they want?
- Quick information. They need to know who you are, what you do, how you can help them and how they can contact you. That’s pretty much it.
- Personality. Even if you sell products and not services, visitors want to see faces of some sort. Original photography is always preferred, but go the stock-photo route if you must. A blog or Twitter feed will also give them a glimpse of your personality, as well as using plain language vs. stiff “business speak.”
- Window shopping. Visitors want a chance to check you out before they buy. Content marketing is a great way to show people what you have to offer so they will feel comfortable enough to pick up the phone and call you.
- Mobile- and tablet-friendly. A 2012 study by Pew Internet showed that 55 percent of go online using their phones. What do they see when they pull up your website? Does your flash work? Probably not. Do you want to risk 55 percent (the number is probably higher today) not being able to view your website?
- Easy-to-find websites. If you are not on the first page of Google (the No. 1 ranking is best), then it’s time to invest in some SEO. People are impatient and will not keep digging for you if you aren’t on the first page of the results.
From a visitor standpoint, what elements do you like to see on websites today? How does your current website compare to your 2005 website?