Web Wizards: Use the Internet Like a Consumer, Not a BusinessNick Throlson
Let’s be honest for a moment: the internet is important to any business and if you don’t use it you’re losing potential customers. Whether you’re a brick and mortar store selling socks or a Michelin star restaurant, you have to use the internet for a variety of different things.
In the modern age, almost everyone has a smart device of some kind and everyone looks online for news and reviews about almost everything. People can search up a review of your restaurant, on the socks you produce, or the quality of the doormat in your office. As long as someone has been to your establishment, they’re eligible to write up a review of your business.
Even if you don’t have a brick and mortar store, your services are no good to anyone if someone hasn’t taken a chance to use you. Just think about it—are you more likely to use a service with 1000 reviews, or buy from a company with 0 reviews and feedback? Unless you like to take a gamble, then you’re almost always going to go for the company with more feedback and reviews for safety reasons.
Be it advertising, taking bookings or delivering products across the world, your website serves as the digital front door to your business. If your entrance is filled with advertisements, shoddy writing, clashing colors and incoherent blabber, then your customers are going to turn tail and flee. However, if there’s a cozy environment, clear and concise writing, and complimentary colors that are easy on the eyes, then your consumers will remember your address and keep you on their list of competent businesses to interact with.
Take great care when designing your website. Hire a professional if you need, consult an artist, or even ask your friends and family what they think—every opinion counts, even “bad” ones. Don’t turn your nose up at a friend who says “the site looks weird”—don’t just assume that your friend doesn’t understand your website because they aren’t an art student or they haven’t studied the colour theory that you’ve painstakingly applied to your website.
Don’t get annoyed when your parents think that your website is “too colourful” or they have comments like “I don’t know how to find x” because chances are, they’re going to be the average type of audience to browse your website. You can’t plan your website and design it like you’re engaging in professional discussion and interactions all the time. Good design is simple enough to be understood by everyone, so don’t get too carried away with creating a minimalistic or avant-garde front page to impress people.
When in doubt, consult professional designers about your problems. There are specialized services such as POET Media detailed here. Just keep in mind this golden rule of simple business designs: make something that a customer would use, not an art appreciator.
We, we, we. That’s all business seem to talk about on the internet. Take a look at the following phrases:
- We ensure the highest standard of quality when…
- Our team of well-trained staff are capable of…
- We have multiple awards in the field of…
- Our experts have years of experience…
These are just some of the many types of quotes that you’ll find on a typical business website. Do you notice the complete lack of care about the customer? It’s a shameful display of self-importance that turns off regular consumers. People want to hear about what your business can offer them, not the other way around.
Don’t list your achievements like a trophy display on the wall of your living room. You wouldn’t invite guests over then drown them in your achievements while pointing at the items in your display case, so why would you do that to your online guests? Treat consumers with the respect that you want to be treated with. If your customers want to know about your awards and qualifications, then they’ll look that up separately. Your first reaction to a new customer shouldn’t be “look at my amazing awards!”, it should be “how can I help you?”.
So how do you go about remedying your self-important quotes and qualifications list? Remove them. A front page should be welcoming, clutter-free, and easy to read. In many industries, qualifications are required so that your customers know you’re capable of doing the job they need or that you’re able to provide high-quality products. However, you can keep these on a separate page or place them deeper in your website for when the consumer requests more information—don’t shove it down their throats straight away.
Utilise images, clean color schemes, reduce the number of words on the page and get your message across using fewer syllables. Consumers are busy people and potential business clients have a lot of work to do, so you need to use clever strategies to draw in customers.
Take a look at any social media account for a big brand and you’ll see the same boring and useless robotic-tone messages that might as well not be there. “Our products are the best around, try us now!” or how about “We have a sale! Click this link for more info!”. Sure, there’s absolutely no doubt that a sale would draw in more people—but is that really the point of social media? Another advertising platform? The millions of active users on Twitter seem to think otherwise.
Let’s face it, no one is going to add your business’s social media accounts to their friend list if all you do is spout advertising nonsense and boast about how great you are. People already encounter tons of marketing campaigns and commercials in their daily social media feeds, so do they really want to add to that spam by having your account pop up as well? Most likely not.
So how can a business utilize social media properly? That’s easy: by being talkative and encouraging interaction between users. Let’s not forget that social media platforms were made not for advertisers and businesses, but for regular people who want to converse, make friends, keep up with old pals, and learn about interesting things that are happening around the world. They don’t care that your business is having a sale in a store on the other side of the world to them, and the fact that you recently won a minor award doesn’t interest them at all.
Give your social media identity a personality. Manage it on your own or encourage your marketing team to add some personality to your posts. You want to be relatable, you want to appear human, and you want to engage consumers by interacting with your social media followers. Ask them what they want to see in your new product, encourage people to create hashtags for your services and products, offer technical support through twitter messages so that people can see your company cares about its customers and its public image. Be social—not a robot.
As mentioned before, one of the best ways to ensure that your business website is suitable for consumers is to get friends and family members to test it. However, those principles extend further than just design issues and coloring. While a good website can be attractive and informative, it’s useless if there are no systems implemented to actually encourage users to purchase or even consider using your products and services.
Let’s use a restaurant as an example. It’s great you have a pretty website with a lot of pictures of your food, an online menu, and even a list of awards that’s neatly tucked away from the front page. You should also have some testimonies, reviews, and of course contact information such as a phone number, email address, and most importantly your address.
Sadly, that’s considered the bare minimum for a productive website. You need to make sure that those pictures are up to date and change on a regular basis. Don’t expect your customers to be happy when they see a portion of fries on your website served in a pretty basket but then they find out that you no longer serve fries in your restaurant. Keeping the menu updated with the proper pricing and ingredients is also extremely important because you need to keep customers in the loop. Remember to update your content on a regular basis, and don’t skimp on taking pictures with your mobile phone unless it’s a top-end smartphone with an amazing camera. Hire a professional photographer to take mouth-wateringly detailed images of your food and beautiful photos of your establishment.
In addition to just contact information, an online web-service will also get you a big thumbs up from consumers. Allow your customers to book tables, order food online, and even talk live to your staff members. Set up eCommerce services so that your products can be sent across the entire globe. Never limit your audience to just your local area, and keep your quality of service consistent no matter what country you work with.