Sorry, your web site sucks

Been spending a lot of time conversing lately about the value of a GOOD web site.  When Image Freedom was founded, I didn’t intend to be a Web Developer.  I’ve been creating content for the web for ten years, be it for gaming sites back in high school or all centered geocities sites with big spinning 3D logos all over the place.  I’ve seen the best and the worst of the web in all it’s glory.

Lately a lot of San Antonians have been talking with me about their own site, and what their plans are for it.  The general perception is that you’re going to have to spend $10-15,000 to get a web site you can be proud of.  I don’t have permission to show specific examples, with prices, but the reality is closer to one tenth of that.

This may sound like one of those “use me instead” articles, and maybe at it’s core that holds some merit but it is just so vital that a business has a solid web site.  Does this mean you need ANY web site?  I’m a pretty savvy web guy and I visited a site for a San Antonio business and was unable to find a link to a map, or driving directions.  HUH!?  That is priority one if you have a physical location.  What happened was they named it something cute, so I had to click through half the site to find the address, none of which had a link to Google Maps.

@AliciaSanera wrote a blog recently called “You Get What You Pay For” about investing in your web site, and I couldn’t agree more.  Alicia teaches finding a niche market for yourself, and as stubbornly as I clung to my SEO roots I find myself much more often developing strong actionable web sites.  I meet the demand of the area, and the demand is “give me a site that works”.

Can anyone FIND your web site? Optimization for Search Engines, advertising and social media marketing are all great ways to bring people to your web site.  It is important that you are in Google Maps, it is important that you are Searchable by your name, and it is important that you pop up for search terms related to your industry.

Once they find it, what do you want them to DO? Having a web site is not about having a picture of yourself on the web, you have customers, stepping through your virtual doors and it is your job to service them like you would if they visited your real location.  What is it you want them to take away from the experience?  What information do you want from them?  Do you want their e-mail address or phone number?

Once they’ve done that, how do you KEEP them coming back? So they found your site, and they filled out a contact form giving you their phone number (thus becoming a lead) do you have the content to keep them on your site?  If there are resources, or *gasp* a blog you could display on your site, would that keep them interested?  Ask yourself, would my sister read this article, would my neighbor?  Sometimes we are the worst people to gauge whether a piece of content is interesting, we think ANYONE would want to read it, but often times that is not the case.

Ask yourself the above three questions.  Can people find my web site?  What does my site ask people to do?  Will they stay once they’ve done it?  That is in order the most important aspects of any web sites.  You could have the best design, the most flash, the cutest little names for all your sections, and your site will still be something people glance at and leave.

Do you know what bounce rate is?  Bounce Rate is the volume of people who only visit one of your pages, most likely your homepage, and then leave.  A low Bounce Rate means that your web site is inviting and informative and people spend a good amount of time on your pages.  A high Bounce Rate, 70% 80% or higher means people are only seeing your homepage and deciding to leave.

Do you want 100 hits, or 1 lead?  Do you want 1,000 site visitors, or 50 regular users?  There is so much more to web design than hits and flash menus and cute names.  Does it function and meet the above goals?  No?  Then I am very sorry, but your web site sucks.

Learn more about Search Engine Optimization and Audience Analysis for your web site at the Image Freedom homepage.