timrizzo
responsive, lightweight web development   ||   powerful, effective content

Web Content Creation Course - Part 1 of 5

The first installment - focus on STRENGTH
Article Image

Hi! Tim here.

It's time to focus on using what you already know to grow your small business on the web.

I appreciate the time you're taking to take a look at this, and I want to be clear - I've worked hard to distill it down to the things you need to know as an owner of a small business, and to give you concrete steps for finding the best way to reach new customers on the web. None of us have a whole lot of time to give up and so each of these is going to be short and to the point, but I'm going to give you a few things to do along the way that will get us to the end with that 'best way' I just mentioned in clear view. I'm not going to digress into color theory or programming or sales funnels or shopping carts - those are all great subjects for another day, but for now we're going to stick to a particular focus(hint: this is going to be a theme) - and that is:

the creation of the content that gives exceptional value to your website and the structure that makes it useful for the people who come to it.

Over the next few installments, we're going to examine the big pieces of this. We'll take a quick look at why each piece is important and I'll give you something actionable to work with. By the end, you'll have a focused picture of what you want your web presence to be and how, specifically, it's going to connect with your visitors. That's the bedrock. After that, the sky's the limit as to what you can build. So...

Let's get started!

1 - focus on your STRENGTH

I don't have to tell you this, but I'll bring it up anyway: first impressions are a big deal. Your website is your virtual storefront (even if there's no shopping cart) and it should be treated as such. It should be consistent, appealing, and well-thought out. If it seems like I'm overstating the obvious it's only because it's so easy to go astray in the presentation. Usually this comes down to a lack of understanding about how the website will be used, over-reliance on templates or reuse of images created for another medium; but rather than examine all of the things that can fail, let's take a look at how to succeed:

A great website is as simple as it can afford. There's temptation to go in the other direction, adding all kinds of 'chrome', and when it comes down to it, your visitors don't care that much. A complex virtual reality is not what's going to keep them coming back, and after the first viewing, the bells and whistles you paid a premium for will be a deterrent because they slow the delivery of what they really want.

What do they really want? C'mon. This is the garden path.

Most of the time, your visitors won't have blundered into your website. They came there on purpose. And they came because they have some interest in what you have to offer. They may not know a whole lot about you yet, but you can remedy that, and in the process create a lot of trust. That's what is going to turn that visitor into a customer. We're going to revisit all of this later, but I want you to be thinking about the kind of expertise you have. We all do, and I have no doubt that your business is founded on it. Don't be too general. Don't brush it off. This is something of great value, and it's something that you already have. If you give a little bit of this away, I promise that it'll come back to you.

Be thinking about this. Write it down. In a couple of lessons we're going to look at organizing it in a way that keeps visitors returning and builds the kind of trust that turns potential into customer.

So, back to your simple website. Ideally, it'll be easy for visitors to see what you're offering, and your integrated logo, consistent look and responsive layout will deliver the same, straightforward experience on their desktop computer, phone, and everything in between. Don't underestimate this. It takes an incredibly small amount of time for your visitor to form a first impression and its effects are exponential because the longer they spend on your website, the more favorable their impression becomes. Take a look at this study, done at Missouri S&T’s Laboratory for Information Technology Evaluation. This is a great argument for why user experience (UX) is so important - but I don't need to convince you. Right?

It's your first impression and it matters a whole lot. But simplicity goes beyond those basic visual elements. You've got their attention. They're listening. What are you going to present them with?

Well, let's start with my question about your area(s) of expertise. I know you have to wear a lot of hats to get things done, but I also know that there are things that you understand just inside out, things you excel at. Maybe it's what got you into the business in the first place. But whatever it is, just find it and write it down. That's all you have to do. Hold it in your mind for a minute and think about the weight of all of that knowledge. And we'll take a look at it next.

Excellent. Have a great day,

Tim

p.s. write it down!

Published on 1 April 2016

Return to BLOG