1. Make it convenient

Convenience rules our world. It’s the one thing that is more important than “cost”. If whatever you’re offering, is easier than something similar or close by, they will use it. So when it comes to web, use a simple domain your audience can remember, provide the address on your email, cards, brochures etc. Provide the address of any digital tools in literature or maybe supply an App they can download that specifically sources or delivers information for them. Anything you can do to help your audience easily find you, see you or use your service is seen as being convenient.

2. Provide value

Provide service or information that helps customers speed up what they need to do. You must do this over and above what others provide as a normal service and/or over and above a service you may charge for. Giving customers something that truely helps them for no extra charge gains trust. Self help tools are good but they need to be easy to use, work all the time and stay current.

3. Make it easy

When you’re doing 1. and 2. well, don’t ruin it by asking customers to login or provide lots of information – which is equally annoying. Then, make your site easy to use by doing pre-live user testing. This does not need to be expensive or long winded – ask your neighbour, parents or kids to carry out predefined tasks that you have determined your customers might do on your website. Make it easier than your competitors, help customers do what they want to do quickly and they will talk about you as a market leader. Make your website a pleasurable self-help experience.

4. Don’t copy competitors

Remember what your teacher used to tell you about copying someone else in a test? The person you choose to copy could be wrong. Just because most other competitors in your market do similar things online, it does not mean they are right. Unlike offline, online is still a mystery to many companies so they tend to copy principles used elsewhere. These date fast and were often never right in the first place. In my experience, it is better to trial something yourself, measure it, then tweak. Better to learn trying than be ignorant copying.

5. Do the basics – do not experiment

If you’re a manager charged with heading a website project, any success you might achieve online will be largely to do with your willingness to address what it is your customers need to do. Business websites are 99% destinational – they are tools that support and supplement your business offering offline. Websites are not experimental projects where you can afford to waste money on designs to please your boss or your peers. Find the truth, ask your audience and follow these principles.

Remember, good things take time, make small tweaks to your site every few weeks and measure the results and re-tweak. This is how those good sites became good.