Deadly Webmaster Disease – SiteRightItis
Interesting title and maybe it made you smile, however for some website owners this is a very real condition. Do you have it? I hope not, but you can find out by reading on. Hopefully if you are infected with this disease then this article should immunize you and ensure you a long and healthy web business life. (I’ll send you the bill for the immunization later)
Ok let’s get serious. I have spent many years helping all sorts of web businesses get off the ground from info sites to entire shopping malls, I have built them all. What is always interesting to me is to see is which sites stay around and which disappear after a few months.
Are you Tweaking?
Over the past few years I have noticed something very interesting. A small percentage of my clients are constantly tweaking their sites, adding this feature, adding that feature, changing the look of this page, changing the look of that page, in essence trying to create the “Perfect” site. For me this is not a bad thing as I get paid for editing and installation services. However I often tell clients they don’t need this or that and try and re-focus them a little on what they SHOULD be doing. I do have a reputation of “telling it how it is” but In my defense I could not do otherwise. I believe we sometimes need to hear what we NEED to hear not what we want to hear.
Here is what I discovered, the website owners that spend the most time tweaking and perfecting their sites don’t have anywhere near the visitors my busiest clients do. Now while wanting your site to be “perfect” may seem like a good positive thing, it can be fraught with danger. The reason for the lack of visitors to these “tweaking” sites is simple, they spend hundreds of hours worrying about cosmetics and features, and next to no time promoting their online business. Some of them even blamed the layout of the site and not the lack of promotion for its poor visitor numbers and lack of profit.
Websites are no different from traditional bricks and mortar businesses. You can have the most beautiful restaurant in the country, serving the best food in the world on a little back street somewhere. The fact remains unless people know where to find your restaurant it will fail. Well the internet is FULL of tiny back streets and your business is on one of the smallest until you promote it, get busy, and move to one of the busier streets where word of mouth brings you most your trade.
I remember many years ago when I started my first site, I did at least have the common sense to realize that I knew very little about building a website or running an online business. So I went and signed myself up for a few webmaster newsletters to gleam some tips and advice from those more experienced. I will never forget the very first email I ever received from one of those webmaster sites, it’s subject was “KISS” which stood for “Keep It Simple Stupid” Something I have never forgotten.
Sure your site needs to look nice, but what is way more important is the content and the navigation. If I visit a flower site to order flowers for my mum’s birthday, then what I want to see when I get there is FLOWERS, the price and how quickly they can be delivered!
Yes my eyes will be met with the “overall look” when I land on the home page of the site, if it looks messy maybe I won’t order. If it has a nice professional look then great I have a good impression, but believe me when I say this, I will not stop to think about how your site looks any further than that. I just want to buy flowers not do a review on your sites design or feature list.
A few years ago we had a client (now retired) who had an Interflora flower shop. She totally understood the above. She understood that people are busy and want the information they came for NOW! This lady had us add a button in her top navigation titled “In A Rush?” That lead to a page that said “Are you busy? Well instead of wasting time looking through all our categories let us design a lovely bouquet for you.”
The user just had to select how much they wanted to spend on the bouquet from a little drop down and the shop did the rest. Which product do you think her site sold most of???? You got it, the florists choice bouquets. I rest my case, her visitors wanted flowers at a good price, they did not care about a pretty site or a live chat feature.
No Waffles Please!
I would like to raise another point here and this may offend some of you but it is how things are. Most of your visitors are not interested in a large “about us” paragraph on your home page. They do not care about YOUR mission they are there looking for something for themselves, whether that be product or information. For goodness sake build an “about us” page and put it in your navigation, if your visitors want to know more about you they will find it.
In our example they are thinking about their mothers birthday, they just want to see the flowers, know how much they cost and how much delivery is. Try to keep your opening paragraph to a few lines then show your potential customer what they came for….your products or service.
Keep It Brief
If you run a service or information site then tell them briefly about the service or information you offer, then show them a nice clear navigation so they can look around and get more details on the service or information they are interested in. KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Think for one moment about some of the biggest earning sites on the web. Other than a header image is Paypal loaded with graphics and layout??? No it is very simple, clean and easy to navigate. Take a look at Ebay, the first thing you see are products and categories and a search box. Let’s not forget the mother of all simple designs Google what is it? A search engine, whats the first thing you see??? A search box! Get it???
Even Ugly Can Work
There was a lot of publicity in years gone by about the free dating site “plenty of fish” it has been re-designed now but back in the day it was an UGLY site. Even back then that site earned over $500,000 A MONTH! What was the first thing you would see there?? Dating search, dating ads and dating profiles, not “Plenty of fish was established in 1995 and our primary mission blah blah blah” What do you think the folks at plenty of fish spent their time on? (apart from counting their money) Design? Trendy features?? Hell no! PROMOTION!!!!!
We’re Nearly At The End Of The Tunnel
Are you starting to see the light??? SiteRightItis is no different from “I’m just waiting for the right time” or “I’ll quit smoking before I am 40” it is a form of procrastination hidden behind a rationalized creative reason. I never did like the word rationalize try a different spelling with the same sound “rational lies”.
Ask yourself this: Does my site look clean clear and professional?? Yes? Great! Am I hitting my visitors with the info, service or products they came for as soon as they reach my site??? Yes?? Great! Is my site easy to get around for visitors and for search engines??? Yes?? Great!
Here’s some very uncomplicated advice if you answered yes to all the above:
STOP MESSING AROUND WITH YOUR SITE AND PROMOTE IT!!!!!!!THAT IS HOW YOU WILL MAKE MONEY!!!!!!
In closing some final reminders: Other than an initial 1 second glance 90% of your visitors don’t care about the quality of your site design, as long as it looks ok and is easy to get around. They are interested in information, products or services.
Promote Promote Promote! The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!
About the Author
Gary McHugh is the author of many website related articles and owner of 3001 Web a complete web hosting and design service for webmasters of all levels of experience.