Thursday, July 28, 2011

Your Web site might be so full of pages, links, graphics and interaction that you forget why you built it in the first place! Here's the most important question to ask:
What is the single most important action you want a Web site visitor to take?
Or, to put it another way:
What is the last thing you want them to do before they leave your Web site?
This is especially important for differencemakers, because your Web site needs to persuade your site visitors to join your cause, and then take action. Even if you aren't selling products or services directly, you're selling a message, and that can be a much more difficult "sell". So it's even more important you have a clear call to action.

For example:
  • If you sell products or services directly, you want them to go to your shopping cart, fill in their credit card details, and actually buy something.
  • You might want them to pick up the phone and call you.
  • You might want them to send you an enquiry by e-mail.
  • You might want them to subscribe to your newsletter or blog.
  • You might want them to sign an on-line pledge.
  • You might want them to make a donation.
Whatever the outcome for your business or cause, make sure you make it simple - almost simplistic - for them to take that action.

This might seem too obvious to even bother saying, but you would be surprised how complicated some Web sites are when it comes to this most important part of their site visitor's interaction.

Even if your Web site doesn't sell products or services directly, that doesn't let you off the hook! Think again about the last thing you want people to do before they leave your site, and make sure it's easy for them to do it.

For example, if you want them to pick up the phone and call you:
  • Is your phone number shown prominently on every page (not just hidden away on a Contact Us page)?
  • Do you show area codes for long-distance callers?
  • Do you offer a toll-free number to encourage calls?
  • Do you clearly show your opening times or available times for people to call?
  • If you have more than one phone number (for example, for Accounts, Sales and Support), is it immediately obvious which number they should call?
As another example, if you want them to e-mail you to take the next step:
  • Is your e-mail address shown prominently on every page (not just hidden away on a Contact Us page)?
  • Do you show an actual e-mail address, rather than forcing people to fill in a form?
  • Do you explain how e-mail queries get answered - for example, giving an estimate of how quickly you will reply?
  • If you have more than one e-mail address, is it immediately obvious which address they should use for their situation?
You might think you're doing everything right to get the required response. But go through the process again, this time walking through it in your Web site visitor's shoes. You might be surprised to see how many obstacles you've put in their place - without realising it, of course.

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