This is a bit of a rant. And a warning. I’ve just looked up four people that were recommended by a major blogger I follow and there is no way I would continue to explore any of them. They all made a very poor first impression.
The main message was not clear
In every case there was no clear message about what they offered. First of all a video is not a clear message when one first gets to a site. It is a screen with a button on it. Why would I push that if I don’t know what it’s about and even what the site is about? Give me words that help me get my bearings at a glance. And it’s not “Welcome, I’m ….” I want to know what they offer so I can tell if I want to continue browsing. Remember people scan. You get less than seven seconds to capture their attention. What can you tell them in seven seconds that will make them read more?
It was cluttered with choices
I cannot absorb six different boxes with colored graphics at once. I need one call to action per page. I’ve certainly had that problem with my own content because I can offer a lot of different things. It helped when I found the broader categories – Business Coach, Content Developer and Educator for www.caralumen.com . Those were words that identified what I do and immediately invited a choice that sent the reader off to a page about that specific topic.
And you know what? That’s still too many choices. I need to narrow my niche. I have just created a new blog so my www.passionatelyonpurpose.com blog can now be more focused on personal development and general business while my www.magneticsignatureproductsguild.com is only about crafting signature information products. I know it sometime takes awhile, but work to narrow your niche and make it clear to your visitors exactly what you do.
The navigation was messy
Nothing is more discouraging that having to hunt for the category that might interest you. When you design your navigation put on your beginner’s mind – use simple words to guide them. I found myself on sites where I did not understand their purpose and the navigation made no sense because I didn’t know what I should be looking for. As I design my Guild site I see categories of interest like Decision-Making, Crafting Content, Product Development, and Marketing. Using those broad headings will help my readers easily find what they need.
The design was unattractive
I can’t believe that with all the great Word Press templates out there that these sites were as truly ugly as they were. There were some really bad color choices and little boxes of content in strange places. When I coach clients on web design we talk about the feeling they want to create when the person first arrives – professional, friendly, action-oriented? And it’s not about your favorite colors although you do want your site to express you; it’s about how others perceive your colors when they arrive. There is a psychology of colors. Look them up as you choose your theme. An important part of your first impression is the design of your site.
The font was unreadable
This is my pet peeve as I get older. White print on dark background is very hard for me to read. Small print and fancy fonts are also hard for everyone. The fonts are part of your design. When I created the Guild site I chose the Prose Theme in Genesis because it emphasized the words and since this is a site for writers of information products that seemed appropriate. Once you design your site, practice opening it and see where your eye goes, what you see first and what you don’t’ notice. I found that in one page I started to put up there were too many headlines. I sort of fell in love with a few phrases but that doesn’t mean I needed to use them all at once! Use font sizes to direct the eye. Use subheads to keep the content flowing.
But most of all there was no connection to me and my needs at all.
Everyone wants to know “what’s in it for me?” Your headline needs to say who you serve and what you do for them. What is the emotional appeal? Is it money, security, health, success? What problem do you solve? I had a problem with the content explaining my Magnetic Content Development System. What I do for people in that repeatable system is help them capture their best ideas and organize them into information products. The problem is that people don’t always realize that one of the reasons they feel overwhelmed by too many ideas is that they have no system for making choices. But since they don’t know that I can’t attract them using the idea that I have a remarkable decision-making process that leads them to their best choices. I have to talk more about how much passive income they might make from information products or how you become more of the go-to person in your field when you give greater value to your community by teaching what you know. Get really clear about what you can do for your visitors and make your invitation very, very clear to them.
So I didn’t stay
I can’t tell you how little time I spent on each one of those sites when I hit these barriers. They had all been recommended by a prominent blogger who had even put their topic beside their names but in every case it was all about the owner of the site and not about what they could do for me. Why are you in business? It’s to serve other people right? Then made sure they know how you can help them when they first visit your site. It’s your invitation to them. You only have one chance to make a first impression. Make it count.
© 2011 Cara Lumen
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