happy little biz

Tips for making your website more engaging

Happy Groundhog Day! Here in Toronto it feels like instead of reliving the same day over and over, we're going to relive shovelling the same pile of snow over and over.

Groundhog Day Movie if we can teach the groundhog to drive, think we can teach him to shovel snow?

Today I'd like to share a few tips on making your website more engaging to the people you're trying to attract to your business. I know this is a hard point for a lot of people. You design a website because you know you need one in this increasingly digital world, yet aren't really sure what to do with the site in terms of design and content.

These ideas may help.

Don't be too clever

Have you ever visited a website and wanted to know more about the business, where it is located, and how to contact them? But when you tried to find that information, it was really hard to tell where to find it? The Scoop? Is that about the company, or do they sell ice cream? Hello? Umm, hi? Is this where I find out more about you? Experience? Ok, getting warmer, but is that your resume, portfolio, or an about page?

Your best bet is to simply name pages for what the content is. About for your about page, Contact for contact information, and so on. It's simple and it's what folks expect, so they're more likely to click through rather than going on to another website. Do note that it's ok if you'd rather use a call-to-action (for example, "Book Now" instead of "Contact"), but you still need to make it clear which page people want to go to. Don't make them think too hard.

Make your About Page awesome

Every website for a small business should have an about page.

I know I know, not the easiest page to write for lots of folks. It can be really hard to describe what you do and who you are, in an attractive way, that makes your potential clients interested in talking to (and hopefully hiring!) you.

But remember, the about page is what lets potential clients get to know you. The vast majority of people don't want to work with a random, faceless business. They want to work with someone who they have a good feeling about, someone they feel understands them and their needs, and someone who has the experience to do what they promise they will. Your about page is the best place for all of that information.

Good about pages:

  • Have a picture of you (or your team)
  • Have your name (or names, if there is more than one of you)
  • Have good information about your background in the field: How did you get to doing what you do? What makes you different? Who are your services for?
  • Give folks some insight into your personality: the page should be written in your own voice and not someone else's. As well, you probably want to add a little something personal, like a note about favourite hobbies, or the fact that you're a crazy Raptors fan, or that you one won a firebreathing contest... whatever lets people know more about you without getting into TMI territory.

Remember, the whole point of your about page is to help the types of clients you want find you and get to know you. Which brings me to...

Think like your clients do

Remember, your website is not for your benefit, it's for theirs. So as you're preparing the design and content, you want to be thinking about how your business can help your clients. What service do you provide that they need? What questions would they have about that? What wording should you use that will make sense to them?

You want to engage them the moment they land on your website. How can you do that with the types of clients you work with?

Less is more

So ok, I've been saying you have to have all these details on your website, that you need to engage your audience, and so on. It's important to have details about who you are and what you do! But it's equally important to say it in a way that is engaging and as succinct as possible.

A colleague of mine likes to say "Again, Half as Long" (From A River Runs Through It) when talking about any sort of public-facing writing project. In other words: details are good, but no one is going to read a five page monologue about your company, your project, or anything else, really.

From a design perspective, whitespace on a page (when done well) also helps with overall flow, allowing people to read more effectively. So again, think short statements and sentences, not tons of paragraphs.

Hey small biz folks and entrepreneurs out there: anything you'd add to this list?