(Are You Making Any Of These?)
While the actual content of your web site is the single-most important factor in making sales, simple web design errors can sabotage those potential sales single-handedly.
Look at it this way: Your web site is the only thing your customers can judge you by. It is your store, your advertisement, your salesman, your brochure, – it’s all that and more.
It must inspire confidence and demonstrate your competence, professionalism, and personality.
To illustrate the potential errors of an ineffective web site, let’s imagine a real store on Main Street, Anytown, U.S.A.
From the street you can see a sign hung on the front of the store. It simply says, "Store". You follow the path to the building – but can’t find the door! After pushing on different sections of wall, you finally find a hidden door that opens up and lets you in.
Once inside, it’s pretty dark and hard to see except for a few bright neon signs and a bunch of random flashing lights that hurt your eyes. Once your eyes adjust you discover a huge row of shelves with different products for sale, but it’s hard to read the product descriptions because they’re all written in a faint orange text against a bright pink background. Squinting, you’re finally able to read them, but there’s not enough information to interest you in buying anything.
All the products are randomly shelved: There is some interesting discounted merchandise here and there, but it’s mixed in with get-rich quick schemes and Multi-Level Marketing plans. You drop one leaflet that says, "Make $50,000 In 90 Days!" with disgust. When you finally find something you’re thinking about buying, you look around but can’t find a salesperson, and can’t even find a cash register. After much diligent search, you find an inconspicuous sign telling you to mail a check to some P.O. box in another country, and that in three weeks after your check clears your product will be mailed to you. You wanted the product today!
Confused, you notice a flashing sign at the back door that says, "Come in here! You’ll love it!" Stepping curiously through the door, you find yourself in a back alley with a guy trying to sell you jewelry out of the back of his car, and a hooker that wants to know if you’re looking for a party.
Question: How long do you think a store
like that would last?
What have we learned from this ‘Twilight Zone’ store?
1) Don’t make your intro page nothing more than your Logo without a sign that says, "Click Here To Enter". Better yet, put useful information on your intro page so you’re not wasting your prospect’s time. Your competition is a button-click away, and there’s nothing more annoying than waiting 45 seconds for some stupid logo to display that doesn’t provide any useful information.
While we’re on the subject, make sure that ALL links on your site are clearly marked.
Don’t assume everyone knows that oftentimes pictures are links. – They don’t.
Don’t assume that everyone knows what a FAQ is. – They don’t. Write, "Frequently Asked Questions".
Put a link to your ordering page and to your home page on every page. It’s insane to make it hard to find your ordering page!
2) State very clearly at the top of your index page and on the top of every sub-page what the reader can expect to get out of your site, and what the page they’re looking at contains.
3) Lose the jerky animations. They’re distracting and make it hard to actually read what you’re offering. When a basketball player is making a free-throw show, why do fans of the opposing team wave their arms wildly behind the basket? -- Because it’s distracting to the shooter. Don’t try to distract your readers from YOUR goal – which is selling them your product.
4) Lose the funky backgrounds. In fact, lose most ALL backgrounds. The easiest combination to read is black text on a white background. – Period. If you insist, there are some acceptable backgrounds like off-white, light tan, cream, etc. . . But if there is a watermark picture however slight, or a faint pattern, it’s harder to read, and you’re hurting yourself.
Backgrounds can be used to spice up your site on the left-hand side, or with your logo on top, etc., but leave your main body of text black against a white background! (Break this rule at your own peril.)
5) Organize your products so that they make sense. The best way to design a web site is to promote your strongest product – your top seller – 100%, and then offer links to your other products. It’s hard enough to sell a prospect on your best product. . . Don’t confuse them by giving them too many choices.
Special Note to those who’s web site is nothing more than a combination of links:
I’ve had many people contact me recently for me to evaluate their site, and all their site consisted of was links to other people’s products that they had seller I.D. numbers for to try to make commissions from.
While there’s nothing particularly wrong in doing that, (although there is more profit potential in selling your own products) they each had one thing in common: They were very anonymous, there was no introductory paragraph introducing themselves, telling who they were, and why the products they were offering were valuable or even worthwhile.
Most of them are probably not making many sales. The web is nothing BUT links. If all you’re offering is links without any personal recommendations, why should anyone take notice?
How link pages should be run:
Explain how great the products are that you’re linking to, what they’ve done for you, how much success you’ve had with them, how much the reader will love them, and why they’ve got to have them!
Why should your reader believe you? -- You’ve got to build their confidence by showing your stuff. Offer them free info, free reports, free stuff that makes them think you’re a cool guy or gal. (Or hermaphrodite – it’s all so confusing.) Then, when you’ve established their trust, tell them, "By the way, I found this killer marketing package/ software program / sports drink/ Viagra substitute/ laxative / whatever - that really helped me out. I highly recommend it. Click here to check it out!"
At that point, they just might. Also: EVERY ONE of the products you’re trying to sell has to sound legitimate. If even one sounds like a scam, they won’t trust any of them. If you were offering these:
Accept Credit Cards On Your Web site /
No sign-up fee
What do you think of these offers? To me (and most others), the last two (Envelope Stuffing and MLM, both known scams) would make me suspicious of the others. There’s nothing wrong with the first four (especially if you can’t keep your cats from urinating on your head), but people won’t believe ANYTHING you offer if even one thing you’re promoting is bogus.
6) Make it easy to order! Just like you hate looking for a salesperson at JC Penney’s to ring up your high heels and chain saw, your customers can’t be bothered with searching for an ordering page.
Put a link to your ordering page on every page of your site.
Provide as many ways to order as possible, and be as reassuring as possible. (These are crucial elements and will be discussed fully in a separate chapter.)
7) Guarantee prompt delivery of your product. In the internet age, no one waits to wait more than three minutes for anything. Offer to send products out within 24 hours of receiving an order – and don’t wait for checks to clear. If it’s a high-end product, offer Overnight Express delivery. If it’s a software product, offer to email it immediately, or offer instant download. The quicker you can promise to get the product into the customer’s hands, the more likely they’ll buy.
8) Think twice about what sites you link to. Would americanexpress.com have a link to some porno site at the bottom of their web page? Would Ralph Nader have a link to a Multi-Level Marketing scheme at the bottom of his?
Your prospects judge you on everything because it’s all they have. Only provide links to web sites you’d be proud to be associated with. Links will be discussed more fully in another chapter.
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