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Does Your Website Sell?

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    The most beautiful websites in the world are about as much use as a screen door on a submarine if they don’t convert visitors (to buy or at least ask for more information, which then allows the sales staff to close the deal).

    Yet, scarily enough, this obvious fact seems to be not so obvious to web design firms or their clients.

    Why spend even $1 on a website, let alone the $5000, even $20,000 and upwards price tags that most web design firms charge for your shiney new site, without making sure that your site can and will sell?

    A large part of the issue is ego and design mentality. Every business owner or manager who makes a decision to actually spend the money on having a site designed wants their site to look good! In fact, in most cases, they are too focused on how the site looks, as apposed to how it performs.

    That way, their friends, family and colleagues will be blown away with how hot and sexy it looks. They’ll get lots of compliments and positive feedback from all these people about the site, which obviously gives our decision maker lots of warm fuzzy feelings about their decision to go with this site design.

    The thinking process also goes something like this:

    “I love the site, all my staff love the site, and all my friends and family love the site, therefore visitors to the site will love it so much that they will buy (because they are super-impressed?).”

    But in the real world, that only works for flashy fashion items (and the people who are susceptible to that kind of prestige marketing) glitzy jewellry and new cars! Even then, it still doesn’t work all the time. Just because you see a gorgeous diamond ring in the Jewellers that you just love, does not automatically mean you will buy it.

    As an example, let’s say you were buying a simple book from a website – a book you could buy at any number of other book sites and physical book stores. Is the potential client buying a (i) book or a (ii) spiffy looking website?

    Is the spiffy looking website the # 1 consideration in a potential client’s mind when they make a decision to buy that book from you? The answer is obviously no. Case in point, Amazon is not the best looking website in the world, but it sales speak for themselves.

    The 2nd part of this deadly combination is the “design mentality”, which is mostly squarely in the hands of the web designer and/or some graphics/artistic type in the client’s employ.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am not bashing web designers here. They are an integral part of the overall process of getting a website up and running and making it look modern and professional.

    However, the key missing element here is the fact that designers, by their very nature (that which draws them to this line of work) are way more interested visual issues than they are in the #1 skill required to sell: an understanding of people and their fears, desires, concerns and other such issues that impact whether a sale happens or not.

    Selling has an entirely different set of imperatives than design, and when the two do not integrate well, you have a pretty website that fails to capture the attention of a prospective client enough for them to actually take the big step of making a purchase.

    So, to try and trim down what is an incredibly complex and large topic, the biggest barrier to making sales from a website are when the sales process and psychology is ignored in preference to creating a gorgeous looking website.

    Oh, this assumes that the purpose of the site is to sell a product or service, or at least to generate a sales lead/enquiry, which can then be followed up with and hopefully turned into a sale down the track. I am not referring to sites that have been deliberately created to just give information or provide support, etc.

    Also, I hasten to add that not all web design firms think like this. Few actually do understand that a site design must mix form, functionality and persuasiveness.

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