It isn’t working.
You’ve changed the font six times. You’ve made your logo bigger. You’ve plastered your website on Facebook. You told them about the orphans and the poor, huddled masses. You’ve tried to sound more desperate. Professional. “Fleek.” You’ve thrown dollars and hours at your website and have little impact or profit to show for it.
Hear the disembodied voice of a wise father: “Remember … who you are.”
You’re a problem solver. You didn’t get where you are today by guessing or throwing money scatter-shot at a problem. You view the world through a different lens, you think differently, you break the rules, you focus on what matters and you find a better way.
I guarantee cracking the code on your website and your digital marketing strategy is going to be easier than solving world hunger, the energy crisis or whatever Jabberwock you’ve already got in your crosshairs. So let’s take this one as a stepping-stone – a notch in your belt, if you will, on the way to achieving those six “impossible things” you believe every day before breakfast.
Easy isn’t always obvious. In my experience, obvious isn’t always obvious. Skipping these tips is the web equivalent of calling tech support before checking to make sure your computer is plugged in and powered on.
I can’t tell you how many businesses I’ve seen miss this. I see it not only as a designer, but also as a consumer. Why do the hard work of convincing me I need to get in touch and then lose me because I can’t figure out how to contact you?
Even if this information is on your contact page and obvious to you, remember that the majority of visitors will spend only seconds looking before they move on.
Ever watched a beautiful, moving, funny or even ingeniously clever commercial and then thought, “Wait … what was that about?”
Did you go digging around trying to find out? Probably not.
That’s what happens when businesses fail to communicate their clear and unique value proposition above the “fold” (the part of a webpage you can see without scrolling).
No matter how stunning the graphics, how moving the images or how large your logo is, if visitors don’t immediately understand why what you do matters to them or their cause, they will abandon ship.
Nail down what that value is for your ideal customer or client, refine it to a few, succinct and powerful words, and make it the first thing they see.
Remember, you’re not out to please everyone. To see the greatest impact, focus your communication on those who are already aligned with your values or who are at least inclined to see your work as an answer to a social problem they’ve already identified.
Again, remember your visitors. As much as it goes against any thinker’s brain to say it – good design doesn’t require people to think.
Unless your social enterprise website is incredibly large, complex or packed with useful content for your end user, your navigation shouldn’t go more than two levels deep. Stick to one level in areas where you can pull it off without creating confusion or ambiguity.
The absolute best way to be sure your website is easy to navigate for your audience is to test it. Identify a handful of your ideal clients or customers and invite them for coffee. Give them a list of tasks to complete on your website without any hints or aid from you. Ask them to find your contact information, to give a donation, to subscribe to your newsletter and/or to find out who really runs your company.
This is the key: watch them complete these tasks. You’ll notice where people struggle, and, if you have a large enough sample, you’ll notice where people intuitively look to find that information or complete that task.
If your site is missing any of these essentials, don’t hang your head. Fix it and move on – with power! And gumption! I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half of the world’s challenges persist today because society has missed the obvious in either the problem or the solution. Fortunately, that’s why we have people like you – working on the tough stuff while we keep the power on.
Now that your visitors know how you’re going to change the world, how to contact you and how to get the information they need to plug in to your social mission, it’s time to whip your website into superhero shape.
This begins with asking (and answering) some deep, existential questions, like … why do you even have a website, anyway?
Almost every business owner knows they “need a website,” but many can’t articulate why. If you can’t answer that question – stop and figure it out before going any further. A website without purpose has no … purpose. You might as well toss your hard-earned cash out the window or spend those hours on a DIY web builder eating Cheetos in your beanbag chair.
Did you launch a social enterprise just to have a social enterprise? I hope not. I imagine you did it because you saw a need you could meet or a problem you could solve. Your website is no different, and it should be part of that solution, not just a digital brochure collecting digital dust on the interwebs.
So treat your website like an employee and give it a job – a mission, if you will. Some common objectives include:
Your website’s objective(s) should center on your business objectives. Design it to solve real problems and add value to your business. Get this right and you can get back to saving the world like a bona fide superhero.
Once you’ve zeroed in on the problem you want to solve for your own business, the next step is easy – tell your visitors what you want. If you want them to buy your product, tell them to buy it. If you want them to sign up for your email list – tell them to sign up for your email list.
Maybe you think it’s not your style to be so direct, but I’d challenge you to think about it differently.
If you’re a social entrepreneur and you get your marketing and traffic strategies right, there will be people who visit your site who want nothing more than to be your partner, champion and cheerleader. They’re asking, “How can I help?”
Answering that question for them in the most clear and obvious way is not only serving them, but it’s also serving the people you are in this to help. The quicker they get answers, the quicker you get what you need to solve problems for people in need.
Determine your greatest need and ask for it clearly, directly, above the fold and in a bold, contrasting color for the best results. If you have more than one pressing objective, add secondary calls to action further down the page in a similar style that stands out from your other content.
Successfully implementing these basic steps will transform your website and set your business on the fast track to a brighter tomorrow for all of us. When you’re ready for more, contact me or dig in and learn some proven strategies on your own, but promise me that you’ll STOP GUESSING.
Why am I yelling? Because guessing kills dreams. You have a higher purpose than trying out every single font and shade of blue known to man or wasting years on strategies that might not pan out. I’m in this business to see people like you write a better script for tomorrow’s world. Selfishly, I’d like to be here to see at least a piece of that future come to pass!
Don’t waste time. Tomorrow is waiting for you.