Let’s face it. Your website has a lot of heavy lifting to do. These days, online presence is a vital component of any successful business, and for many customers, it’s the first and primary way that they interact with your brand. That means that having an out-of-date, poorly designed, or unprofessional website spells disaster. Even if you have a solid foundation and are vigilant about updating your content, there are tons of little missteps that can prompt viewers to click away from your page. Here are some tips to get you started.

 Clarity is key.

 First things first, you don’t want potential customers to have any confusion about what your site is trying to communicate. Users should be able to tell what your business is from their first glance at your homepage. They shouldn’t have to dig around—because they probably won’t. Studies indicate that users spend less than a minute deciding whether a page is worth their time before they navigate away.

This means that the main text on your homepage should be as direct and concise as possible. If your headline and subtitle draw your reader in, you’ve won the first battle, but you’re not done yet. The homepage should also have an easily visible menu so that the user can find exactly what they’re looking for. For help organizing your site navigation logically, try out methods like card sorting to determine what topics users intuitively group together.

Finally, the homepage should include some information under the fold that will lead people to other pages on your site. This way, if you pique a viewer’s interest and they choose to further explore your site, you will be able to guide them in a couple useful directions. Just don’t overdo it—listing tons of links will leave viewers overwhelmed and likely to leave your page.

Who are you, anyway?

 If you want guests to come away with an understanding of who your company is and what makes it unique (and we think you probably do), your copy and visuals should form a coherent impression. Before you can do that, you have to figure out what’s right for your brand. Should you use sleek stock photos or pictures you’ve taken yourself? Should your tone be quirky? Warm? Candid? These are all questions that require you tp examine your brand and determine what impression you want to make on potential customers.

Keep your brand’s identity in mind as you add other media to your site, from videos to infographics to interactive content. You don’t want visitors to be jarred or confused by conflicting content. Instead, retain your tone in unexpected places—such as in forms, call-to-action links or product descriptions. It will add credibility to your brand and make the user’s experience more memorable.

Now that your customer knows what your company does and has a feel for your company’s individual identity, it’s time to back up your claims. There are multiple ways to put your money where your mouth is: adding content like testimonials, portfolios, awards, and press pages will show potential customers that you’ve got what it takes to succeed.

Put the customer first.

When it comes to the customer’s experience, the word “easy” is your best friend: the experience should be as painless as possible. One of the simplest ways to do that is to add tools like search bars, FAQs, and easy-to-find “Contact Us” forms. When composing contact forms and forms that make up the checkout process, remember that less is more. The fewer fields that the user has to fill out and the fewer steps it takes, the more likely it is that they will complete the purchase.

In order to find out whether the customer experience is intuitive (and hopefully, enjoyable) for the user, you’re going to need to do tests. Have people use your website and give you feedback on what was frustrating or helpful. Listen and make adjustments as you learn, and use tools like heatmaps to see what is attracting and keeping users on your site. Additionally, you can provide spaces on the site itself where users can submit feedback about their online experience in addition to their reactions to your product or service.

This may sound like a lot of effort and attention to put into just one aspect of your business, but making a successful online first impression turns visitors into customers—it’s how you get results. Your website is a storefront that anyone can access at any time, and making that experience an enjoyable one is well worth the effort.

Creative Spot is a full-service marketing and advertising agency in Columbus, Ohio. If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organization with strategic marketing, please contact us.