How does your website flow?

How does your website flow text, with image depicting website process flows

For the older business owners among us - especially in regional areas - there has long been a mindset that websites are there to look pretty and that is where their usefulness ends. Looking back to 8 years ago, even my business coach could not understand how a website could generate new business. It was and still is for some, a difficult concept to comprehend:

How can someone agree to part with their money when they have no idea who you are and have never spoken to you?

While that particular mindset has changed considerably over time - my business coach is now knee deep in live streaming, subscription based websites and app development! - it does still exist and is fuelled by the fact that many websites are not performing effectively.

There could be a number of reasons why a website does not perform well, though first we need to look at what "perform" actually means. What makes one website successful and another not?

Ask yourself, why did you decide that you needed a website? If you don't have a website yet but are thinking about getting one, the question remains the same:

What business problem did/do you believe a website would solve?

The answer to that question will vary, yet it forms the basis for success. If it is not solving or on the way to solving that problem then it is not "performing" effectively.

Let's have a look at two of the most common business problems and how you can measure the success of your website.

1. You want to sell your products online.

This is particularly common in regional areas, and thankfully it is very easy to measure success. Quite simply, more sales equals success. You should be setting regular sales targets and then looking at what you need to do to achieve those targets. Make sure you regularly review, rinse and repeat!

2. You want potential customers to contact you.

I once had a client tell me that if he could talk to a potential customer, his chance of converting the lead to a new client was up near 100% - his website goal was obviously to get them to call him.

This business problem is a bit harder to measure. You could decide that you want a certain number of calls each day/week/month, or you might decide that you want a certain percentage of website visitors to contact you.

Using website statistics it is possible to measure how many people are visiting your website, and obviously the number of enquiries through your website is easy to measure as well. People may choose to enquire by phone or email though, in which case you need some process in place to find out where they heard about you so that you can measure that as well.

How does your website flow?

Once you know what problem you want your website to solve and how to measure the success, it's time to look at how your website actually works. Your potential customers could arrive at your website on any one of your pages, they do not always end up at your home page. It is therefore important that there are clear "calls to action" on every page, and that those calls to action encourage the visitor to call, email, share, buy, or whatever else it is that will help you to solve your business problem.

There may be a number of actions that have to be taken to achieve success, for example you may want someone who is interested in wearing T-Shirts to arrive at your T-Shirt category. You then want them to find an item they are interested in and to view more information about it, or choose their preferred size and colour. When they have viewed and fallen in love with it, you then want them to add it to their cart, and the next step is actually checking out to complete the sale.

What a website visitor actually does on your website is called the Visitor Flow. What you want them to do is called a Funnel, because they are arriving at a fairly general place on your website and you need to guide them through to the specific completion of your goals.

You may have a number of goals and a number of different funnels on your website but the underlying requirement is the same for any website:

  1. What is your business problem?
  2. How will your website solve that problem?
  3. What calls to action need to be in place and where, to guide your visitors through the required visitor flow?

Have a look at every page on your website and see if it is clear how to get to the next stage of your funnel. If not, make the required changes and start measuring again.

If it is set up correctly, your website can be successful and it can solve your business problems.