Almost every website out there exists for one reason: to make money.
Whether they succeed, however, is another story. Despite that, there’s a fortune to be made online.
In 2016, Google made over $58 million per day. That’s revenue, not profit, but still nothing to sneer at.
Here’s the bottom line: if you’re a business, your website should contribute significantly to your bottom line.
Often, small or local business websites are poorly designed information dumps. That’s certainly better than the ~30% of small businesses that don’t have a website at all, but not by as much as you might think.
The best business websites are well-oiled sales machines. They clearly explain the value of their product or services. They make it easy for leads to become customers. They’re all-around helpful.
Help your potential customers with their problems, and they’ll reward you with their patronage. Here are some ways your business website can make more money.
“Good” design is, to a degree, subjective. And while design trends change, the fundamentals never do. A well-designed website will:
- Have a color scheme of no more than 3 colors for easy viewing
- Use quality, properly sized photography
- Utilize thoughtful navigation and organizational elements
- Adjust its display to the size of the device viewing it
By making a website nice to look at, you’ve taken the first step towards making it nice to use. And if a website isn’t nice to use, it’ll have a hard time making money.
Make Usability A Priority
An entire discipline of web design exists centered around the idea that websites should be easy to use: UX design, which stands for user experience design.
User experience refers to the experience that a person has when using a program, website, or anything else that’s digital.
A website with good UX is intuitive, specific, and generally easy to use, which is important, because your website doesn’t have to do much wrong before it turns off would-be users.
Google is a great example of a website with good UX. It is so easy to use Google. When you see this page, you know exactly what you should do. It’s basically impossible to get confused here.
Your website is probably a little more complicated than Google’s homepage. People go to Google for just one reason: to find something. People might come to your website to browse the mufflers you sell, learn your operating hours, or any number of other things.
But whatever people visit your website to do, identify that thing and make it as easy as humanly possible for them to do it. If your website fails to fulfill a purpose, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is—it’s as good as useless.
If you sell diamonds, the only logical reason for someone to be on your site is because they have some interest in diamonds. Maybe they’re looking to buy someone a gift and are considering their options. Maybe they’re thinking of opening their own jewelry store and want to get a feel for the competitive landscape. Whatever the user’s reason, your website has to be of some use to them or they will not use it.
Entire books have been written on website usability; we’re only scratching the surface here. Go read some blogs. Here are some resources to get you started:
Make Your Website a Salesman
We’re going to repeat this, because it’s that important: you have a website to make money.
Your website should sell. Period. It should be stupidly easy for someone to visit your website and buy whatever you’re selling. If you’re selling something that can’t be purchased and shipped online, that’s okay. In those cases, your website should make it as easy as possible for the user to take the next step towards buying. This is usually scheduling a meeting.
That’s easier said than done, of course.
How does a website sell, anyway?
Sell in Stages
Selling from a website and selling in person have more in common than you might think.
Think about buying a car: if you went to the dealership and asked a salesman “Can you tell me about this car?” and they responded with “You should buy it!”, you would be rightfully put off. However, many websites do the digital equivalent of exactly that. Selling is a process, so your website should treat it like one.
There are well-defined stages someone goes through when they purchase something. The whole process is called the buyer’s journey.
The Buyer’s Journey
To illustrate the buyer’s journey, we’re going to keep with the car buying example.
First, someone realizes they have a need. In our car buyer’s case, that need is almost always for transportation—it could also be the need for a status symbol, but we’re going to stick with transportation for the sake of simplicity.
Once someone has identified a need, they enter the awareness stage. Someone in the awareness stage has probably just lost a car or has gotten a new job farther away from their home. Maybe they just moved from a public transportation-dense city to a rural area. No matter which way you shake it, they have a problem: they need to get around.
Next, they consider their options, entering the consideration stage. Our car buyer will now compare their problem (lack of transportation) with the solutions that are available. Will they need to buy a car, or will public transportation suffice?
Finally, they make a decision in the decision stage. If we were illustrating this journey (which many have), we would put a big gap between the consideration and decision stages. Between the consideration and decision stages, our buyer has not only decided that they will choose a car over public transportation, but also the specific model of car and who they will buy it from. That’s a lot of decisions!
During each of these stages, the buyer has distinct needs. The best way to increase a website’s profitability is to make sure your website addresses the needs a buyer has at each stage.
By doing that, you let your users realize your value to them on their own time. When it comes time to make a decision, they will trust you because you provided them with the information they needed to make that decision. And people do business with people they know, like, and trust.
So, be helpful.
Make Sure Your Website’s Content Helps Your Buyers
The internet is an extremely visual place, and for good reason: the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. This information has led many brands to overfocus on visuals. And visuals are important—there’s no contesting that. But words run the show. Words carry a complexity and expressiveness that images fail to capture.
But we aren’t here to pit words and visuals against one another. Rather, we think you should be using them together.
So, when you write the content for your website, you have to be specific. Laser-focused.
Try this: think about the people your typical client. Are they male or female? How old are they? Are they married? What do they like and dislike? What problems do they have? Collect as much information as you can and melt them all down into one fictional being: your imaginary “everyclient.”
Whenever you write anything for your website, think of your everyclient. Would they like this? Would they find it helpful? Use the everyclient to guide your writing. You’ll find that your writing immediately becomes more focused.
This process is called creating a persona, and it’s a popular strategy among marketers. It works, too, because focused writing is always more useful than vague writing. It’s rare that something can be useful to everyone at the same time. There’s no point trying to sell a car to someone who doesn’t need to get around, but unfocused content does exactly that.
So, always use writing and visuals that specifically address the needs of your website’s readership.
Upgrade Your Hosting
Website loading speed is the single most important factor in determining how many people will use your website, and your hosting package has a lot to do with how fast your website loads.
When you sign on to host with a company, they put your website files on a server. The amount of processing power and bandwidth that server has directly affects your website speed.
So, if your website crashes frequently or can’t handle when you get more users than usual, it might be time to consider an upgrade.
Want to Learn How to Supercharge Your Web Presence?
Making your website better is one of the most difficult and rewarding things you can do for your business. We know, because we’ve done it for ourselves plenty of times. We’ve learned a thing or two since 1998, and we write blogs every week to help break down the complex worlds of web design and SEO.
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Also published on Medium.