Why do you have a website? What a silly question. We have websites because we’re supposed to. Everyone else does, right?
But a website without thought behind it, without intentionality, may be doing you more harm than good. Professional web designers ask their clients a series of questions before they do any design work. Improve your website by asking yourself these three questions:
1. What do you want to accomplish with your website?
It’s so tempting to pile cool widgets and generic text (“Welcome to my website, I hope you enjoy it”) on your site without considering the purpose. Besides overwhelming the site visitor, the items may be sending mixed messages—or give the impression you’re not sure what business you’re in. If you aren’t sure what you’re trying to achieve, you won’t know when you’ve arrived.
Consider the main goal for your site. Do you want to raise awareness of you as an author? Sell a particular product or service? Write your goal on a sticky note and place it where you can see it to remind yourself the point of the site. That way, when you’re tempted to add one more shiny widget, you can easily decide whether or not it contributes anything to the site.
2. What actions do you want your visitors to take?
How will you measure what you want to accomplish? These objectives should be directly related to your goal. For a main goal of building relationships with readers and potential readers, the accompanying action would be to increase the number of signups to your list. Adding numbers to that action makes it measurable: Add 50 additional names to my list this month. Increase book sales by 10% this quarter. Achieve 150 attendees at my webinar.
These objectives become even more powerful when turned into calls to action. A call to action is a specific task you want your site visitor to accomplish, and should erase any confusion the visitor has about what to do. Calls to action should be directly related to your objectives: Sign up now; Buy my book; Register for this webinar.
3. Who is your target audience?
Understand whom you expect to visit your site. Not everyone in the world will be attracted to your book, and attempting to be all things to all people results in mixed messages. Who did you have in mind while writing your book? Translate that to your website. You can communicate more effectively when you target a specific audience. The style and content of your site will differ if your audience is newly-widowed women over 50, rather than high school girls exploring career choices. Many web designers create highly specific personas, detailed descriptions of a theoretical site visitor, even giving her a name: Fiona is a 35-year-old mother of three children who is trying to balance career and family life. She gets migraine headaches and is disgusted with the doctors who haven’t helped with the problem. She… Well, you get the idea. None of that information shows up directly on the website, but it helps when making decision about content. Would this offering appeal to Fiona? Would it help her with a specific need?
What next? Compare what you’re offering on your site to your goals and the needs of your target audience. Streamline your content, do away with extra widgets, focus visitor attention on a specific call to action. Eliminate confusion, and your online marketing efforts will have that extra impact your competitors are missing.
Donna K. Fitch, MLS, MCert, is the founder and CEO of Maximum Author Impact, creating beautiful WordPress websites, training webinars and other resources for indie authors. She is the author of Second Death, The Source of Lightning, and The Color of Darkness and Other Stories.
To receive a special gift, “5 Ways to Hack-Proof Your WordPress Site” and find out what Donna can do for your web presence, visit: www.maximum-author-impact.com.