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How to tell someone their website is 'pants'

Recently, one of our new friends from Twitter and Athena emailed to ask the advice on how to tell people in her network that they have a website which is “….(insert own expletive!)…pants!”
This prompted me to put together some tips on tactful ways to help them – we do believe it helps with referrals – if someone has a bad website, we are hesitant in sending their website address out to people we want to refer them to, as their websites don’t represent their businesses as they should and therefore it’s hard for others to believe us that those people are worth speaking to.
If someone you knew had spinach in their teeth, you would tell them, no?
A bad website is like spinach in the teeth of a business – it can put potential clients off!
Here are some tips to help you communicate this to people who you know deserve a better website, because they are nice people!

There is big difference between Traffic vs Conversion

It makes perfect sense that if you get lots of traffic to a website, and people spend only seconds on it before going elsewhere, that search engine traffic is not the be all and end all. Even with all the new amazing ways of driving traffic to your website via social media, you still need to keep them interested with good design and good content!
It really bugs me when people’s first question is “How do I get to the top of the search engines?”
When it should be
“How do I make a website that keeps people interested when they get there”!
So here are some tips on helping people out!

Ask about how often they get enquiries

If a business has people coming to their website and no one is calling them, then there might be a reason, and it’s worth investing some time and asking an expert for feedback. Sometimes just asking the question to them will make them think to themselves – HANG ON! Why don’t people get in touch? This is especially if they are showing up on Google but not getting enquiries – it’s a conversion thing! And a website needs to convert, not just “be found”

Ask the audience

Ask them to send the link to their site around to their friends and ask for honest feedback. If they are brave enough to do that, their friends and contacts may help to prove a point, though chances are they will get mixed results

Tell them a story about someone else who got more business following their website being professionally updated.

We have lots of these examples – we had one client (a doctor) who had his website redone by us who sees 30-40 patients a week compared to before when he only saw 5-6 a week. Another client, a wedding planner, is fully booked for the second year running and this is ever since she had her website designed professionally by us. And another client, a music management company, has had no shortage in work and enquiries in spite of the climate – due to his new site. So, there is business out there, and the people who are winning it are combining good design and content with consistent marketing.
Hopefully this is useful and you can tell someone their website is pants sooner – and send them to us!

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  1. Tom Simnett

    Keren, this is great stuff. People forget that a company website is at its most basic a marketing tool. One piece in the armoury of any business. Absolutely critical to this is the UI, even before graphical side of the design is started on. That can only be done by understanding the target audience, getting into their heads and providing what it is they need for them to make a decision to buy, contact you, or whatever else it is you’re trying to get them to do. The first view they have of your site should tell them immediately if it’s a product or service for them or not. If yes, they’ll naturally read more, and if not, they’ll bounce. Bouncing someone isn’t a bad thing in this instance. They’ve had a good experience by virtue of the fact they have immediately been able to ascertain that they’re not looking for what it is you offer. Driving hits, like you say, is really just like firing a machine gun into the air and hoping some of the bullets come back down and hit the target you placed 50 miles away.

  2. Nic R

    You offer some good reminders here, but I find it always helps if you start the conversation by asking the person: “how is the website working for you?”. Listen to them. Understand things from their perspective – it may change yours.