Guest post by Megan Totka, chief editor for ChamberofCommerce.com
Let’s face it; most of us have a problem with paying attention.
On average, the adult attention span for a single, given task is somewhere around twenty minutes. The Internet represents an entirely different story. As the average user has the attention span of nine seconds on any given site, it’s clear that we must capture the attention of our traffic as quickly as possible.
For this reason, a cluttered, confusing and complicated website is a small business’s worst nightmare. Given the fast-paced nature of the modern web and our shortened attention spans online, many business sites would benefit greatly from a bit of simplification.
Simple sites have the potential to retain more visitors, convert more leads and generate more traffic. What’s the best way to scale down your business site while still giving visitors what they want?
Your Site is Not a Maze
Firstly, your site is not a maze, and your visitors are not lab rats. An effective website provides clear direction from page to page, with such pages labeled and updated accordingly. Most sites today get by on just a few navigation tabs or headings (think: less is more). There’s no need to overload your visitors with a sea of pages or links.
For example, a local restaurant doesn’t usually need more than five or so navigation tabs (“Menu,” “Locations,” “Contact,” “Catering,” and “About Us”) with subpages housed within (e.g. a page concerning nutrition information could be housed within the “Menu” section). Structuring your site this way strengthens it both aesthetically and from an SEO perspective.
Think of your site as your business’s portal or hub. Whether your visitors are looking for information, points of contact or your product, they should know where to go as soon as they land. You work hard to get visitors to your site; are you providing them clear directions once they’ve gotten there?
A Picture versus 1,000 Words
The modern Internet is filled to the brim with visuals. From memes to infographics, visual content is becoming increasingly important to the modern SMB site. It’s no secret that visuals have a positive impact on your visitors and traffic, as blogs that include pictures drive 94% more traffic versus those that do not.
With this in mind, however, it’s best to use visuals somewhat sparingly. Pictures should be utilized to strengthen your written content, not make up for lack thereof or fill empty space. As the number of mobile users increases exponentially (and may very well exceed desktop users by 2014), your site needs to load quickly and not rely solely on visual content. Photos are best leveraged when your site is:
- Depicting an image of your business, product or location
- Breaking up written content to provide a visual representation
- Providing visual representations of data (infographics, charts, graphs, etc.)
In short, ensure that your visual content reinforces your site instead of slowing down your traffic.
Say More by Saying Less
“Adjectives are frequently the greatest enemy of the substantive” – Voltaire
What do the words of an eighteenth century French writer have to do with your small business website?
Consider the following principle when it comes to your content; oftentimes, we can say much more by typing out a bit less. With our attention spans so small and users rabid to find what they’re looking for, it’s beneficial for us to be economical with our words. For example, consider sample product descriptions from two fictional businesses:
Company A: We provide a simple software solution for small and home-based businesses looking to effectively manage their finances.
Company B: Our cutting-edge software represents a groundbreaking shift in the world of finance. Through our unique, dynamic solutions, we provide options for budding entrepreneurs looking to diversify and grow their wealth in today’s turbulent economic and electronic landscape.
Both companies are selling the same thing; however, one is getting to the point while the other is being unnecessarily verbose. Wordiness can often translate to pretentiousness and cause us to lose our visitors as they try to sift through walls of text.
Be clear and concise through your content as you highlight your businesses’ strengths and personality. Businesses that are wise with words don’t need to overcompensate.
The Bottom Line
Simplifying your site may not seem simple at all. Small business owners have a lot to say and want to provide as much as they can to their visitors, especially those who are seeing them for the first time. With this in mind, it’s best to make use of the space you have and prevent yourself from needlessly zoning out your users. In short, quality over quantity is often the name of the game when it comes to crafting a successful small business site.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.