When building a website, it's easy to focus on the bigger things. What does the homepage look like? How does our shopping cart work? All of these are the major elements and they certainly make a big difference for your user experience. Yet the small details that may seem almost insignificant, and which you ignore, can make a big impression on any visitor to your website.
The start of a new year is a natural time to start thinking about updating your website, but every update doesn't require a full redesign. Here are four small things on your website that matter more than you think—and some tips on how you can easily optimize them to improve your website.
1. Update your website footer. Scroll down to the bottom of your homepage and take a look at what appears there. Does it still say 2013? Or another earlier year? One of the most common things to forget to update (assuming it's not done automatically) is the copyright date in the bottom bar of your homepage. Yet you might be surprised to learn just how many new visitors to your site use that date as a way to tell if your company is responsive, updates its site or is a reputable business. A year at the bottom of your homepage may seem like no big deal—but it can say a lot about your company to those people who look for it. So take a moment right now, check the date and, if it doesn't say 2014, then update it.
2. Add personality to your FAQ page. Many websites have a "frequently asked questions" page and the worst of them don't really answer any questions customers would actually ask. If that happens to describe your business, try to take a moment and rethink the questions and answers you have on that page and how you might provide more valuable responses. Once you're done with that, consider injecting a bit of personality into the questions as well. On the website for startup Coin, for example, if you scroll down the page, the FAQ list includes this question:
Q. Which is better; Tiger or Monkey style Kung Fu?
A. Depends on the terrain.
It may not have anything to do with the startup, but it's a small injection of personality and it's funny. More importantly, it tells you that there are some real humans behind the company and it's not just a faceless organization. And if you think about it as a small-business owner, shouldn't that be one of your biggest advantages against your larger competitors anyway?
3. Rethink your contact forms. If your site uses any type of contact or lead generation form, you're probably asking for the same type of information—name, email, phone, address, etc. Take a moment to visit that form and really think about all the information you're collecting. Do you actually ship products to customers? If not, stop asking for their mailing address. To know what region they're from, asking for a zip code is good enough. Will you ever actually fax anything to a customer? I'm guessing not, so why would you ever include a field for fax number? The less you need to ask in order to get good information, the more likely it is someone will actually fill out your form. So save the detailed questions for a second conversation and rethink your form to only ask what you need to ask.
4. Fix your dead ends. When you create multiple pages on your website, you usually have the same navigation across the top or on the left hand side. If you happen to use landing pages, however, you might be creating a single experience with a dead end. Someone might go through the process and do whatever it is you want them to do on your landing page, but what happens next? Where should they go?
If you don't think through that next step, you'll lose that customer at that point because you have a dead end. Instead, think about what they may be interested in next and give them a path to learn more about your business and engage with you further. If you can remove all your dead ends, then you can more successfully convert the visitors on your site to visit you or buy your products again.
Rohit Bhargava is the bestselling author of five marketing books and founder of the Influential Marketing Group. Early in his career, he led production and development of dozens of corporate websites and wrote his master's thesis (many years ago!) on usability and user interface design.
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