6 Ways to Improve Your Website by Being a Good Host
Sometimes I tell people I was raised by wolves. This is not a slight on my parents, it’s just my way of expressing that I was never taught how to behave socially. I wish public schools still taught those kinds of things (like that charm school from the movie A League of Their Own) because social skills seem much more important than my ability to tell you the atomic mass of carbon (you know, the whole EQ versus IQ thing).
But, even though I'm not charismatic, I can still identify it in other people. For example...
One holiday when I was home from college, my mom and I went to visit a friend of her’s. We’ll call her K. From the moment K welcomed us into her home, I was transfixed. She took on the role of hostess so effortlessly and made us feel instantly at ease. She knew exactly what to say to encourage conversation as she subtly plied us with an assortment of Russian snacks. The dinner was full of talk and wine and delicious foods.
When we left we were feeling a bit fat and happy and anxiously awaited our next invitation. This experience of welcoming a guest into your home is very much like the experience you want to create for your website visitors.
Now, I may not be able to host a great dinner party but I certainly can design a kickass website. And these are some of the guiding principles I consider:
1. Welcome Them In
I don’t know how many times I’ve visited someone’s website and left feeling as if I’d accidentally walked in on them in a compromising situation. When someone visits your website, you want to welcome them in as if they were visiting your home. Because, as an online entrepreneur, your website is your digital home base.
You welcome them in by letting them know right away who you are, what you do, and who you serve. The easiest way to do this is to put a smiling image of you in the hero banner of your homepage along with a quick statement about who you serve and how you help them (aka your USP).
2. Show Them Where To Go
Now that you’ve welcomed them in and taken their coat, you want to give them a quick tour and show them where to go. Let them know that this is where the festivities are going down but, if they need to use the restroom or care to visit the library, they can go here or here.
This translates to your website by immediately offering them something valuable and related to the reason they’ve come in the first place. But, on your homepage, you want to also let them know that there are 2-3 additional pages (rooms in this analogy) that they may want to visit. And don’t the mistake of having a gorgeous website that’s impossible to navigate.
3. Have a Clean House
Hoarders don’t make great dinner party hosts. Don’t be an informational hoarder. Your website needs to be clean and easy to read. You want to err on the side of leaving out text because people aren’t likely to read that anyway. Give them just as much information as they need to get them to the next step, but no more than necessary.
Trust me on this. The same things you value in a beautiful home -- ample natural light, white space, clean surfaces, and modern appliances -- are the same visual aesthetics your website visitors will be drawn to as well.
4. Make Them Feel At Ease
At every step of the way during your dinner party, you want your guests to feel at ease. Guide them and reward them throughout the evening. The same goes for your website. You want to keep your visitors feeling at ease.
You can do this by creating consistency between your site pages so there are no unexpected visual surprises, deciding not to use pop-ups (honestly you know you don’t like them), showing them what to do with obvious buttons and clear copy (because confusion leads to dis-ease), and keeping your text in readable chunks (information overload is overwhelming).
5. Thank Them For Coming
When the party winds down and it’s time for everyone to leave, you obviously want to thank them for coming. The most memorable hosts always include a parting gift too. And this is exactly what you want to do on your website.
Thank them for being there by offering them a valuable free gift. This is something that is not only on your homepage but displayed on nearly every page of your site in some form. That way, regardless of the page your site visitor lands on, they have the opportunity to pick up your “thanks for stopping by” gift.
6. Invite Them Back
This part of the user experience happens after visitors have left your site or, to continue the analogy, after your guests have left the dinner party. This is when you follow-up on what you talked about last time and the free gift you’ve given. Then you casually invite them back over for brunch so you can show them how to make crepes (or whatever you talk about on your website).
The goal is to create a cohesive user experience that is warm and welcoming and continues beyond the initial website visit. You’re looking to establish and grow a long-term relationship with a potential client.
By using these 6 dinner party tips, you’ll be well on your way to crafting an unforgettable experience that gets visitors coming back again and again.
So tell me, which of these 6 points do you need to focus on when it comes to your website?