As a business or freelancer, your website is one of your best sales tools. And you should be using every opportunity to make sure it stays relevant and useful for your audience and prospective customers.  It’s stays online 24/7 (hopefully) and it should be acting in your best interests. If it’s not, you should analyse and find out what works and what annoys your visitors when they land on your site.

In a fraction of a second, a visitor is going to judge your website, and decide if it’s worth it for them to stay and keep going. All this happens before they even consider buying what you’re offering.  And guess what, approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy. Your job is to provide the most relevant information possible to make sure your visitors stay long enough to consider buying what you sell or sign on to your product.

First impression still counts.

Your website visitors’ immediate impression of your site is going to make them want to keep going or just close their browser. What are you doing to lead them to keep checking out other pages and your offering?  If they know nothing about you or your site, does it make sense to them the second they arrive? Does it make is easy for them to figure out what exactly you do? If you can’t hire a professional to take care of the a custom design for your site, you can always start off with a website builder. Choose only relevant widgets your users will find useful and stick to clean and minimal design that can convey the best message to your audience.

People have loads of options, the mere fact that they are on your site is a good thing, but it shouldn’t end there. Make them stay. Declutter your site and keep it clean from all the clutters of websites: buttons, ads, banners etc. Your content should be clear and free from distraction. Your business may be relying on ads to stay relevant, but that should not be reason to overshadow your content with lots of ads.

Make the one thing you do obvious to the visitor.

Make it clear where to start on your website. This means that one brief block of text needs to be larger than anything else on the screen. Larger than the logo, larger than any pretty graphics, larger than the navigation. Is the first thing someone reads on any page on your website enough to draw them in deeper?

Are you using language that speaks to them and their motivations, or are you just talking about yourself and your product/services? If they come to site without even hitting any other page, does everything still make sense?

Use simple and precise words—not confusing, creative, or non-concrete bragging. Write in everyday language, as if you were actually talking out loud to them. Honest words in the right tone go much further than outrageous claims or sales-y copywriting. People are used to too many sales copies, tell a great unique story about your business in the simplest way possible. Don’t use too many business jargons.  Speak directly to your audience and no one else. That will keep them there longer.

Focus on benefits not features.

You want to talk about the benefits of what you’re selling, not just the features. What does this mean? Jason Fried sums this up nicely: a feature is what your product/service does, and a benefit is what a visitor can do with what you’re selling. Speak to the latter, to the actual results, it’s always more powerful.

What are you really selling? What would your website visitor gain if they invest? Investment isn’t always just money either, sometimes what prevents someone from investing is the time they’d have to invest. Feeling obligated or pressured to invest doesn’t always work, whereas speaking directly to their passion, or desire for knowledge or results can work quite well.

Your audience doesn’t want to be told what to do, especially if they aren’t “sold” on moving forward yet. Instead of calling them to an action they may not want to take, make the action a reward or payoff. How can you help them decide if what you’re selling is right for them, before they give you money? Maybe it’s with a common questions + answers section. Or testimonials/social proof? Is it a way to get in touch first, if what you’re selling is a bigger ticket item? Stick to what works for you and your industry.

Never stop in the process of improving your website, monitoring statistics and making necessary changes and you will convert better.