Affordable, Innovative Website Design, Copywriting and Digital Marketing | Clare Vanessa, Freelancer

Why isn’t my website making me money?

Why isn't my website making me money?

When it comes to creating a new website for their business, many owners are so focussed on how it looks that they miss out on critical planning processes that will support its ultimate success.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but websites aren’t magic portals that draw your ideal customers magnetically to you – ready to immediately buy whatever you are selling (although that sounds pretty amazing and if anyone can work out how to create such a beast, please contact me immediately!).

It is usually due to a lack of insight and real planning that many business owners are left perplexed when their website DOESN’T generate the expected increase in leads and sales. As a result, they might then direct a higher budget towards redesigning the site, thinking it doesn’t look the ‘right’ way; or they might blame a ‘bad market’ and their website being launched at a wrong place or time; or maybe they’ll blame it on too much competition in their niche or market. Whatever the reason, most of the time the guesses won’t be correct.

Through my experience researching small business website designs, I have instead found the following:

One very common reason for poor website performance is poor functionality and/or poor content.

Yes, functionality plus content. NOT appearance.

That’s not to say that appearance isn’t important – it most definitely is. But it is like a good quality icing on top of a delicious, perfectly-baked cake. You would spend more time on the cake, than the icing, and the same goes for how long you should spend on how your website looks!

In exactly the same way that a physical shop plays a critical role in attracting, retaining and converting visitors to paying customers, your website is the virtual space for the very same process. It either starts the customer down the path towards a positive shopping experience with you, or it drives them away to search for something they feel is a better fit for them.

From my professional perspective, I believe it is critically important to distinguish between a website’s appearance and functionality. By understanding the function of each of these aspects, you will be able to implement a much more effective website.

The Difference Between Your Website's
Appearance and Functionality.

Appearance refers to how a website looks – its layout or theme; colour scheme; fonts; images; responsiveness (i.e. how it adjusts to different sized screens) and other aspects along these lines.

Functionality refers to how the website works for the user and supports your sales process – your internal page links; how your menus are laid out; the flow and funnel of your pages; how you take orders, enquiries and bookings; and whether you can change the website to suit your processes, rather than mould your processes around the website’s functionality (believe me when I say, this last aspect is a COMMON issue).

So when it comes to your website’s functionality, some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  • Is your website’s content laid out in a logical manner – more specifically, in the order a potential customer or client might expect or need when they first arrive at your website?
  • Is that information located on your home page or are you expecting your potential customers to hunt around for it (which, I promise, they typically won’t)?
  • Where does the Home page lead the visitor next? Or does it let the potential client or customer just wander around (which is not a good idea)?
  • Does your website cover all the questions, enquiries and expectations that a potential customer or client in your industry would seek or ask you if they were physically in your store?

The above is just a starting point, but my aim is to get you thinking about the purpose of your website, to ensure its success – rather than thinking about how slick it might look.

How To Improve Your Website's Functionality.

To more deeply illustrate functionality, let’s use a practical example – consider how a customer might use a paint shop’s website:

  1. A logical first function of this website might be to ask the client what job they need paint for, thereby determining the best paint for their job. The home page of this website would do best to ask this simple question (i.e. qualify their potential customer’s needs), and then offer a link to the page that matches their purpose.
  2. Now they are on the page with information about their chosen paint job, a next step may be to lead them towards a colour scheme section. This will help them to consider all the options you offer, and get them more excited about their project – and therefore more serious about making a sale.
  3. The website might then help the customer calculate how much paint they will need for their project, and also give them an estimated budget to consider. Again, this better qualifies the potential customer so they feel more confident getting in touch with you or even just making their purchase online.
  4. It would then be a logical next step for the website to either get them to save their paint and colour choices by leading them to the cart to secure their selections or encourage them to lock in a no-obligation quote – allowing them to be contacted by an expert to get any last minute advice and then lock in the sale. 
  5. Finally, a good sales ‘fall-back position’ might be for the website to invite the customer to sign-up to the store’s mailing list to get more tips on DIY paint projects for the home. This ensures if a potential customer isn’t sure about committing to a quote, sale or enquiry during that website visit, you have a last chance to get that customer’s email address in your database, and then your emails will remind them of you, so they may still purchase from you at a later date.

The above process demonstrates how your website’s functionality needs to completely mirror your sales process.

The short of it is this: functionality will make or break your website. Your website can’t just be a fancy catalogue – it needs to act as one of your electronic salespeople. By reflecting your existing in-person sales processes, it can start to perform a functional role in your business.

The takeaway? Don’t just allow a designer to set up your website BEFORE you have mapped out its purpose, process and functionality.

I’d love your comment below or feel free to ask a question!

Yours in effective web design,

Clare Vanessa, Freelancer 

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