Does your web content drive your customers away?

it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside. It's what's on the inside that counts.

If your website looks good and has the ‘wow’ factor when a customer or website user arrives on it, that’s great.

But does your website tell the user what they need to know? Does the copy have out-of-date or conflicting information? Is the website easy to navigate and find out the information the user needs? If not, then the site visit is not going to end in a sale or a happy website visitor who will return again!

Over the last few weeks I have been going through and updating copy for a membership service client’s new website as well as setting up products and writing copy for an Ecommerce website.

Now, sorting out the actual copy that goes onto the web pages is very time consuming. Digging down into the detail that needs to go into the webpages can be somewhat frustrating – both for me and the client!

As someone outside of the client’s business, I am able to put myself in the position of the person who will click onto the page and interact with the website. I am therefore able to judge through those eyes whether I can understand the copy that is going onto the web page. I can see if it is really telling me what I need to know and solving my problem.

You would think that updating copy from an existing website onto a new website should be straightforward. All the information should already be there. In my experience, not so!

Over time, most websites get new pages added and new links and new bits onto existing web pages. Different people add things in different ways. Then pages don’t get updated when they should, or get updated but with information that doesn’t really belong there. Without a clear set of rules and guidelines that everyone sticks to, a website can end up a real mish mash of things.

Websites evolve over time and benefit from a regular tidy up.

The people using the website just need to know what the service does and how to use it. They don’t need to know about details and problems with the process that don’t really concern them. They don’t need to know about last year’s special offers any more. So unravelling the old website to get to the basics of what the user actually needs from the web page can be like untangling a messy ball of string!

I have to keep asking the client questions and waiting for them to reply. It is worth it though because, when complete, our client’s website will not only look a million times better, but also the copy will be easier to understand and do a better job of helping their website users.

If I am a customer looking to buy products on the Ecommerce site (which sells products for dogs in case you are wondering), I want to know a whole lot of things before I buy:-

  • Sizes and colours options available
  • Delivery time and charges
  • Price
  • What happens if I have to return the product?
  • Can I see pictures of the products on actual dogs and all the colours of the items?
  • How do I measure my dog and what are the measurements of the products so I know they will fit?
  • Why would I want to buy this particular product? What are the main features?
  • Why would I buy from this particular website over all the other shops and websites I could buy from?

I want to see this information presented in the same way across the site, not in one layout on one product page and a totally different layout on another page.

If the website is telling the potential customer everything they need to know in a simple, easy to understand way, then they might just be tempted to put an item in the basket and try out the checkout process! If it doesn’t, they’ll go elsewhere to find out what they need to know, and buy from a competitor.

So for me, when sorting out the copy on the page, why is it so hard to find out all of this information?

A lot of the client’s suppliers are dropship suppliers and all of the product information is accessed via their websites. And guess what…. they haven’t considered the needs of the users of their own websites properly. On their websites they don’t provide all the information and pictures the user needs consistently and in a way they can understand.

As updates have happened, conflicting information has appeared! They haven’t put themselves in the position of the website user or customer. They haven’t had a clear process to ensure that the information on the website stays understandable and up to date for the user.

So, we have 2 totally different clients with the same website problems:

1. Not looking at the website from the user’s perspective

Not telling them what they need to know (and sometimes telling them what they don’t need to know) and not making the information easy to find.

2. No clear structure and process for new website information

Not keeping everything up to date, tidy and consistent.

As the old saying goes: “It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

The same is true for a website; if it looks great, that will help. However, what really matters is inside. The copy and content and the navigation through the information always needs to be right for the website user.

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