You have either put a lot of effort into your website or you have paid someone else a lot of money to put the effort in for you. Either way, whatever the purpose of the website, you want to get the most out of it. The question now becomes, how you can tell if your website is likely to succeed.
The first thing to do is to ask yourself why you have set up the website. Are you trying to sell a product or provide information or something else? What do you want to happen when a visitor lands on your pages? "For a man without a destination no wind is favourable" (An old saying attributed to many). If you do not know exactly what you want to happen, how can you expect the visitors to your website to know and do it? You are the one who ought to have the site set up to direct people to their destination. If you don't know what that is, then all is lost.
Your visitors probably know why they visited your site. You too must know why they came and help them do what they came to do. If your website does not provide what they need they will move on to another one. Just because you are getting all the traffic you could hope for does not mean that your site will succeed.
Your Website's Conversion Rate
You will need to measure your success rate. There are a number of ways to do this. One is the Conversion rate. Simply put, the conversion rate is the rate at which you convert visitors into buyers. Or if you are not selling it is the rate at which you convince people to do whatever it is you need them to do. It could be to sign up for your newsletter of subscribe to something else, etc. If you have one hundred visitors to your website per day and you convert two, your conversion rate is two percent.
It is a reasonably good measure of the quality of your website. If your site is not converting, you will know that you need to make changes to the site. However, it could also mean that you marketing or advertising campaign is sending untargeted traffic to your site. In other words sending visitors who are not in the least bit interested in what you have to offer.
SEO & Traffic Generation
The whole point of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is traffic generation. The idea is that you optimise or fine tune your website so that it gets to the top of the search results when people enter a search term that is contained in your website. You do this to get traffic. If your site is not properly optimised people are unlikely to find it. Unless of course you have found some narrow niche that nobody else has heard of, which will not bring a lot of visitors. SEO involves using the correct keywords in the correct way and arranging the contents and menus in the right way and most important of all is link building.
To rank highly, at the time of writing, the single most important thing to do to rank highly in the search engines is to increase the number of links to your site from quality websites which have content related to the subject of your site.
It may sound obvious to most people but, the content of your website should be based on the subject of your product. For example if your website is set up to sell computers then it should contain articles about computers and computing etc. not gardening articles. If you have articles on unrelated subjects they will only serve to confuse your visitors and undermine your website's and your own credibility as a sourct of products and information about computers or whatever your website is promoting.
The content should be keyword rich but not saturated or you may show up on spam radar. The content should be broken up into manageable paragraphs and properly laid out with headers for each section, making it easier to read and navigate.
Getting the visitors to your website is only half og th battle. You then must give them what they want. What do they want? Well, the first thing they want is to find their way around your website without pulling their hair out in frustration. These days there is far too much competition on the internet for that to happen. They will move to another website at the first sign of difficulty.
Arrange all the links and buttons in a way that is easy to read and understand. Do not over fill each page. If there is too much choice people do not make a choice they just get confused and... you guessed it. They move to another website.
The first page they land on, usually the index page should be interesting. It should be obvious to them that they have landed on a page with the content they came for and the way to navigate to that content should be very clear. Do not try to give them everything on the front page.
How easy is it for your visitors to accomplish what they came to do? Do they need to fill out pages of information or can the do their business in a few clicks? If people have to figure out the puzzle that your website is they will move on unless you have something so attractive and necessary that they will stay at all costs. If you have a product like that then you can not charge enough for it.
It is always a good idea to have a professional web designer look over the site and point out any obvious flaws. I say obvious flaws because not all corrections are obvious and are often discovered through trial and error. You should keep tweaking the website in a continuous attempt to improve it. There is always room for improvement. Though it is also said that you should not fix something that works. I think that the best thing is to make gradual changes and if they are not a major improvement, at least they will not be a major disaster.
If you are not confident enough to do the coding and graphics etc. for your own site, there are many professional web designers out there who live for it. So don't let it stop you from getting you name, product or information out there.
About the Author: Steven Collins is a web designer at Desktop Web Design.