If you showed up my house unexpectedly, I probably wouldn’t have a hot meal waiting for you; I may not have the porch light on for you, and the place may not be quite as tidy as I’d like. But if I’m expecting you, that means I’ll do the preparations necessary for making you feel truly welcome. The house will look and feel inviting to you.
As a business owner, it’s vital to expect people to show up at your website. That means making your site feel truly welcoming. When a guest arrives at your home page for the first time, he or she should feel like you’ve just been waiting for them to come—like their visit is anticipated.
That’s all well and good in the abstract, but what does it mean in concrete terms? Let me make a few suggestions for making a website feel more welcoming, more accommodating to expected guests.
Putting Out the Welcome Mat
Make sure all your links work. If you arrive at someone’s home and it’s in shambles—if there are major areas of the house that are sectioned off because they’re under construction—that’s usually an indication that your presence wasn’t expected. It’s sort of the same with a website. When you anticipate guests, you ensure that all of your internal links are working properly, allowing people to move freely through your site. Doing a thorough audit for any broken links, and removing or fixing the bad ones, is an important step to take.
Guide your visitors through the site. When you arrive at someone’s house for a visit, it’s customary to receive some kind of a tour, or at least some direction as to where the bathroom is located. Similarly, you should lead guests through your website, placing strong calls to action on each page to ensure that they know what to do and where to go next.
Place up-to-date contact information throughout. Having your address and phone number on every page of the site is good SEO, but it’s also an important way to let people know that you’re around if they need you, ready to provide assistance as necessary.
Be friendly. A good website is a personable one. That doesn’t mean lapsing in your professionalism, but I’d say that it does mean including staff bios, a company history, or some other piece of marketing collateral to show who you are and where you came from.
Make your guests feel comfortable. More than anything, any good host or hostess wants all the guests to feel comfortable. Similarly, you want your website guests to feel like they’re in a good, safe place. Trust symbols—guarantees, warranties, user reviews, etc.—can go a long way toward accomplishing that.
Invite People In
More than anything, it’s important to adopt the mindset that guests will arrive at your website—and it’s imperative that you invite them in, ask them to stay a while, and make sure they’re comfortable. That’s where a positive user experience begins, and that, in turn, is where customers will learn to trust you.