Has your website underperformed this year?
If so, you may be thinking that 2017 is the year you’re going to do something about it.
But before you go and hire a consultant or a developer and pour thousands of dollars into redoing your website, take a step back.
Why? Because, as a leader in your business, you have what’s called “the curse of knowledge,” a term coined by a guy named Lee LeFever in his book The Art of Explanation.
Basically, it means that we’re too close to our businesses because we live and breathe it every day. So when we talk about our products or services, we talk over our customers’ heads. As a result, our customers get confused and check out.
That’s why we’ve got to take a step back before a redesign.
We’ve got to simplify everything so it’s immediately understandable. But that’s easier said than done.
So I’d like to help you simplify your thinking before you redo your website. I’ve put together a collection of our top resources to help you get clear on what you offer before you start on this new website project. Read through them and you’ll give yourself a big advantage when you relaunch.
As Steve Jobs said:
Step 1: Figure out why your current site hasn’t performed well.
We review hundreds of websites a year. And we see people making the same mistakes, over and over again.
Because of that “curse of knowledge,” we tend to focus too much on the details, forgetting that customers are simply trying to figure out what we do and how it can help them solve a problem.
Here are the top seven reasons websites don’t work. Start with this resource and honestly evaluate your materials to see if you’re making any of these common mistakes.
Step 2: Send a survey.
As a business leader, you’ve likely got a very strong sense of intuition about your business. But some aspects of your business are too important to guess at.
Instead, send a survey. You’ll have data-driven insights that can inform the kind of information and messaging you should be putting on your website. This will help you know what to focus on as you seek to simplify your messaging.
Do it now, before you start reworking your website. That way, you’ll have time to understand the findings and incorporate them into your strategy.
We recently interviewed survey expert David Kinnaman on our podcast, Building a Story Brand. You can listen here or read a quick recap to learn how to send a successful survey.
Step 3: Get inside your customers’ heads.
Every clear, effective website starts with a strong understanding of who the customer is and what he or she wants.
For example: if you’re a landscaping company, you might say that your customer wants help with landscape design, plants, and yard work. But what they really want goes deeper than that. There’s an internal need driving your customer — they want to avoid the embarrassment of being the worst-looking yard on the street. Or to gain the status that comes with a lush, green yard.
If we can identify that internal frustration, put it into words, and offer to resolve it, we show our customers we understand them. And when they feel understood, they’ll engage with the rest of our message in a more meaningful way.
Here are 18 questions you can ask yourself to truly understand those internal frustrations your customers may be feeling, so you can make sure your new website speaks directly to them.
Step 4: Start gathering testimonials now.
We often see small businesses forget to feature outside evidence that their company is good at what they do. This is a key step in building trust with your prospective customers. And people won’t buy from you unless they trust you first.
Most people realize this halfway through redoing their website, and they have to scramble to find great testimonials.
That’s why now is the ideal time to create a reliable process to get powerful testimonials. It’s the clearest way to showcase the kind of transformation you can offer customers.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve put together a list of questions you can ask satisfied customers that draw out the most effective testimonials.
Step 5: Get inspired by people whose websites are working.
It’s one thing to read about ideas, tips, and best practices. But sometimes the best way to learn is by seeing great websites in action.
Here are five websites we love because of how they’ve mastered the art of simple, clear communication that puts the customer first.
If you’re serious about redesigning your website in 2017, I know this list of resources will help you prepare for a successful relaunch.
For more advice like this, sign up for our free 5 Minute Marketing Makeover. In three short videos, I’ll tell you exactly how to clarify your messaging and improve your website — even with just a few minor tweaks. You might not even need that redesign!