A valuable book: A Website That Works

Not all websites work like they should.

And too many companies don’t expect them to.

They see their sites as an extended brochure.

We’ll never get any real leads from our website,” some say.

But you can make your website work for your business.

You can make it into a powerful lead generating tool; one that makes a significant and measurable impact on your revenue, if you do it right.

Here’s a new book that shows you how. A Website That Works is written by Mark O’Brien, MD of niche web development/consultation firm Newfangled. Written with design agencies in mind, the approach it teaches is for anyone who wants a website that gets results.

5 important lessons for your website project

  1. Planning is key: don’t start with visual design. (Wow! This is so refreshing to hear from a web design company!) Websites take a lot of time, money and energy to create. As Mark clearly states, you risk all of this if you don’t invest in some strategic planning at the start of the project. This is a mistake that many companies make. Don’t dive into web design without thinking through what you want the website to do for your business, who you are selling to, what the message is that you want to get across – how the website will achieve this.
  2. Demonstrating creativity is only a small part of what converts a visitor into a prospect. If you want your website to really work for your business, it has to be about more than putting up an inspiring portfolio online. It must be a highly usable and a valuable resource for your target clients.
  3. Content matters: you need a content strategy. Mark defines this as: “a plan for regularly adding unique, expert, and indexable content to your site on a regular basis.” Demonstrating your expertise in your on-site writing (e.g. through regular blogs or newsletters) is not just a bolt on, extra activity. It’s core and essential. This is what will attract visitors to your site, and inform and engage them when they arrive. If you want to get found and generate leads, get your content strategy right.
  4. Be very focused on the type of clients you serve. If you truly specialise you’ll know more about your area of focus than most firms. You’ll have something unique to say. (I totally agree on this point. See my article Narrow Your Niche for More Leads).
  5. Traffic is meaningless; action is everything. Mark talks about the three goals of a professional business website — to attract prospects, get them to the areas of the site they are most interested in, and then bring them into the next level of their relationship with the firm. The action you want is for visitors to either get in contact  with you (to call or email you) or give you permission to stay in contact with them (sign up to your mailing list). Site traffic per se doesn’t pay the bills and measuring the success of your site on this basis is dangerously misleading. Real engagement is a far better measure.

I agree wholeheartedly with all 5 points, and this is just the start. You’ll find more nuggets of wisdom in the book too: Mark’s 9 step process covers your entire web strategy, from persona development to social media, analytics to SEO. I think that A Website That Works is a superb book – both in terms of its content and design. I recommend it extremely highly to business owners and design agencies alike.

Your website is a work of commerce, not a work of art.” Mark O’Brien, Newfangled

A website that works is a website that sells. This is something we can all achieve if we approach our websites and content in the right way.

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  1. Paul Simister

    Interesting Sonja. I’ve been working with an Internet marketing consultant client along similar themes that the aim is to have “a website that works” by generating leads and even making sales.

    It’s very refreshing to hear this from a web designer because I see so many times where design has dominated with no regards to generating traffic or conversion.

    Then the frustrated business owner gets lulled into a deal with a traffic expert, like an SEO or PPC consultant and the game is all about getting more clicks.

    Sure design and traffic are important but the bigger picture remains that the business owner wants to make more sales and more profit.

  2. Sonja Jefferson

    I totally agree Paul and have witnessed the same thing. Design companies are often the first port of call when someone wants a new website so it’s essential they give the right type of advice. They all need to read this book!

    Good luck with the website. Would love a view when it’s complete. Valuable Content Award?

  3. Mark O'Brien

    Sonja, thanks so much for your review of my book, it’s a real honor. Paul, you hit the nail on the head–living is easy when you get paid for clicks.

    One clarification: Newfangled is not so much a design agency as a web development/consultation firm that works with design agencies.

  4. Sonja Jefferson

    Thanks Mark. I’ll change the way I describe Newfangled in the post.


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