With the exception of e-commerce sites (which are a special case) the vast majority of business websites are online brochures, structured as long pages of information accessed through drop-down menus.

Unfortunately, that style of website tends to prevent sales rather than generate them because it presents  all that information as if it were all of the same importance. This is a fundamental mistake that's fortunately very easy to correct.

When the Internet first became a common part of the marketing milieu in the 1990s, it was viewed as a way to provide customers with information, similar to a printed brochure, but bigger, better, longer, and cheaper (no printing costs!).

As a result, business websites had (and have!) the look-and-feel of a brochure, with the same kind of peppy writing, stock photos of happy workers and inspiring horizons, and a prominent way for duly-impressed readers to you to learn more.

The problem with that concept, though, is that brochures have never been effective sales tools. In actual sales environments, only novices use them, and then only when they're unable to handle the most basic of sales objections:

  • Salesperson: "Hi, I'm Joe from Acme, the world's best widget maker."
  • Prospect: "I'm too busy to talk right now."
  • Salesperson: "Oh, OK. Can I send you a brochure?"
  • Prospect: "Yes, do that. Sorry, gotta go." (click)

The salesperson then mails the brochure and waits for weeks wondering when prospect will call back. Which the prospect never does because the brochure was thrown in the trash.

What the novice salesperson--and the 1990s business website designers--don't understand is that information--especially the sterile stuff that marketing groups create--doesn't drive buying behavior. Customers ignore it; it's noise.

Unfortunately, most website building programs default to creating a brochure-like template for marketing to populate, replete with default corny photos and drop-down menus. Hey, Wordpress, the 1990s called and wants its GUI back.

As bandwidth has increased, business have crammed additional content into the original brochure structure, still operating under the mistaken belief that providing customers with more information will convince them to call, email or ask for a quote.

Thus most businesses now have a website that's a magpie's hoard of case studies, a blog, detailed product descriptions, executive bios, white papers, press releases, etc.--all sandwiched into an online presentation that was ugly even when it debuted 25 years ago.

The standard business website is, frankly, like somebody assigned you a huge reading assignment for the most boring college course in existence, under the weirdly distorted notion it's a "delightful and engaging" customer experience.

It's not.

So, then, what to do? Completely redesigning a website is expensive and you've likely got other marketing priorities. But what if there were something you could do in 10 minutes that would vastly improve your website?

There is.

Get into your website editing program (or have somebody do it for you) and eliminate as many "top of window" menu picks as you can. Move stuff like "about" and "management team" down to the bottom of the home page. This takes about 10 minutes.

Limit the initially visible "click points" to the actions that are most likely to lead to a sale.  You want them to sign up for your newsletter not ready your executive bios!  Example:

Ineffective:

Effective:

I'm not saying you should throw out all that content. Just put most of the links to it at the BOTTOM of the home page where they'll be less distracting.

The more you simplify your home page, the more likely it is that your web page will engage potential customers in a way that might lead to a sales opportunity.

Published on: Jan 7, 2019
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