Friday, September 2, 2011

Build a Friendlier Website

A good website should serve as a window into your business. People can go to them and learn some basic information and get your attention if they need to. They're pretty basic, yet very useful and powerful. However, a lot of websites are seemingly not built for human interaction. I'd like to start a list of some simple fixes (sans the expensive graphics and fonts) to make your website more human-friendly.

The first is to ditch the stock photos. If you have real people that work for you, then you should take pictures of them. When I see a website that uses stock photos, I immediately ask myself two questions. First, are they trying to hide something? Secondly, if they're using stock photos just because it's easier, what does that say about the quality of their work?

The second is to avoid meaningless jargon. To say that "company X provides marketing solutions for businesses who are looking to grow their customer bases and increase returns on their growth investments" doesn't exactly tell the reader who you are and why they should be looking at your site. When building your site, it's important to remember that just because you have unlimited words doesn't mean you should use them — "Goodbye," is always just one click away.

Lastly, don't make it difficult to be contacted. Names, email addresses, phone numbers, and a physical address should be easy to find. Larger business should keep it simple, too. Making people choose from 18 different phone numbers is a pain and likely creates as much work as it saves when people still choose the wrong one. And of course, without a timely and appropriate response, this entire point is rendered useless.

If your website is designed to do all the work, I'm positive that it cannot. But strategically, you may be missing the larger picture. Websites are meant for human consumption and need humans working behind them. For a brand, the goal should be directing them from the window to the door.

As always, thank you for reading and sharing. Please keep the list growing with your own tips for a better website in the comments section below.

This post also appeared on Talent Zoo's Beneath the Brand blog.

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