I’ve been in working in IT since before the Internet existed, so I’ve seen almost everything. Last week I discussed why most web-based businesses fail and why company websites usually don’t produce a positive return on investment. So what makes a website – particularly a website for a small or mid-sized business – profitable and deliver leads and sales? Here are 8 characteristics of good websites I’ve observed through the years.
- Good websites actually work properly. Need I say more?
- A good website often caters to a niche. Crafting your message for a group that you know well is a powerful strategy. Remember, it’s all about communication so the better your focus and the clearer your message, the more effective a site will be.
- Good websites keep it simple. Flash and videos can be fun, but that often isn’t what communicates value. I’m not saying that good design and following proper HTML rules aren’t important – they are very important. But if your site is just entertaining, people will watch the show and then depart – leaving you with nothing.
- Good websites often have unique or hard to find products. Selling or promoting the same thing as everyone else usually doesn’t work. When I mention selling unique items many business people don’t think there’s enough traffic to warrant it. But remember that if you’re extending your reach nationwide and hopefully worldwide – you’ve got a huge audience. And the great thing about the web and Internet advertising is you can rapidly try things and see what works.
- Good websites connect with people. If you’ve ever visited a website and just found the entire experience pleasant and positive, then you’ve experienced a site that connects well. These sites present their goods or services in a positive way that literally clicks with their customers. This is where a good web designer can be really valuable as they have what I call web gestalt.
- Good websites have lots of useful related content. Sure you’re trying to sell products or services, but having good supporting content makes it clear that you know what you’re doing. And it also makes it clear that you’re not just re-packing some someone else’s product which you actually know (or care) nothing about.
- Good websites integrate well with their underlying business. If your site is selling products, it should be a natural extension of your brick and mortar business and not some awkward add-on. If someone calls about something on the website your conversation with them should be as easy and natural as if they walked in the door. This fit is what allows you to keep your website current and relevant – it’s easy when it’s what you already do.
- Good website re-package things in unique ways. You might think that because you sell a service that you’ve got nothing to put on your website except your phone number. That’s wrong. You’ve got expertise and that’s valuable. Expertise is both factual knowledge and knowledge about how to apply the facts. Figure out how to package your expertise so you can capture the interest of visitors.
- And good websites are useful. Simply having pages of content doesn’t make a site useful. In fact, it can be downright boring. The best websites cause people to immediately bookmark them because the user knows they’ll want to be back for more. How many people would bookmark your website?