Ending the Confusion Can Bring In More Sales

2003 Viki Nygaard

You are free to reprint this article in your publication as long as the resource box located at the end of this article is included.

With all the Web sites I've visited during my time on the 'Net, I am still amazed to find one very common and widespread problem. Focus - or the lack of it. One of the most basic aspects of designing and writing copy for a site is frequently overlooked - and it is costing Web site owners everywhere big time in lost sales.

This may sound like an "idol threat," but it is a hard, cold fact of Web life. Statistics have proven time and time again that you have roughly five to seven seconds to get the attention of your visitor. If you don't let them know immediately what you do and how you can benefit them, your competitor's site is just one mouse click away.

When your site design and copy don't work in harmony with each other the result can mean the passing over of your site in favor of one that is more self-explanatory. So back to the basics we go. How do you pool the design and copy elements and create a site that lets the visitor plainly see who you are and what you do? Here are a few tips.

1. Never assume. While you may fully understand who you are, what you do, and why your product or service can save the world, chances are your site visitor will not. If they had all the knowledge you do about your product/service chances are they would be able to perform the task themselves. Take the time to clearly state the purpose of your site, the benefits of your product, and what you can do for your visitors.

2. Give directions. Again, this goes back to never assuming. Don't believe for a minute that Web surfers (who travel at the speed of light) are going to read every single word of your ordering instructions. When you want a visitor to download an ebook, move to a new page, "click here" to order, etc., be sure to make your directions obvious.

3. Be bold. For important functions, get bold with your design elements. If you want your visitors to call you for a free consultation, make very sure your phone number leaps out at them. Don't hide it in plain, black type in the middle of your copy. Want them to sign up for your newsletter? Have your subscription box high on the page, and in colors that will be easily noticed. Want them to order? Give them a large button using a contrasting color so they don't miss it in their haste.

4. Don't be flashy. While flash can be an exciting addition to a site, it should never comprise the entire index (home) page. Over 85% of Web surfers say they always skip flash intros. On sites that do not offer a "skip flash movie" link, the visitor leaves immediately. Those are some strong numbers. While flash can be used in moderation to effectively make a point or highlight your company's focus, be careful not to overdo it. Statistics show that the vast majority of your visitors will leave before they'll sit still for an entire flash presentation.

The best bet overall? Write and design your site in an effort to answer the five W's: who, what, when, where and why. Taking the time to make sure your visitors have a clear and immediate understanding of who you are, what you do, and how you can help, will result in more sales or responses for you.

Viki Nygaard is President of Mount Evans Designs specializing in professional Web design. For those businesses who insist on quality but must maintain a budget, visit http://www.mountevansdesigns.com today. You'll be thrilled with the exceptional designs and the affordable rates!