In my business of analyzing websites for profitability, we hear all the stories about why our clients' websites are not making money. The biggest complaint I hear is that their previous web designer made a nice site, but if they make no money, a good design is pointless.
So, my questions are:
1. What would keep you, as a potential customer, on the website to make a transaction (purchase a product, call the company, email the company, etc)?
2. What causes you to leave a website in 10 seconds (what Google calls a bounce)?
You have to have something worth selling....and position it properly which means clear calls to action. Most sites are informative and miss the calls to action...people are lazy, they won't look hard. Personally I leave if not interested
1) If the company's offerings and "about us" are clearly in tune with what I as a customer am deliberately seeking, then I would stay.
The quicker a visitor leaves, the quicker they have ascertained that the company's services or products are not a "perfect fit" for what they are originally seeking.
How does a visitor decide?
A) through general look-and-feel
B) reading the "About Us" page
C) specific details on the product page is not what they are originally seeking (e.g. I am looking for a specific Reiko Kaneko Lip Tease mug in silver, but your site only has it in gold)
D) I would definitely stay on the website to make a transaction if someone I trusted directed me to a specific part of that website (because they knew me and knew what I was seeking --- referral trumps all)
2) I would leave in 10 seconds if the product, company, or offerings clearly do not fit my specific search criteria (price range, details, location, or just general gut feeling of "I don't like it")
As a web developer, I always tell my clients to specify, specify, specify. You can become extremely specific about what you offer, how you offer it, why your product/service is unique and special, etc. You can speak directly to your specific client -- you do not need to be as "generic" or to write very generalized descriptions.
If you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one.
State your message, vision, values, brand, manifesto in your terms and clearly differentiate how/why your company/organization is unique, as well as who you serve.
Bonuses on keeping people on the website:
if i) the price is clearly marked and
ii) there are easy-to-read headings, strong tags, & bullet points,
iii) no mandatory signup to review pages/products
iv) there's a mission or slogan or tagline at the bottom of every page.
v) contact information clearly marked, with whatever certifications are relevant to your industry
vi) blog is up-to-date
vii) "newish" feel and site is maintained: no spelling errors, grammar issues, missing images, 404 missing links
The value that the website will deliver if the visitor buys, signs up, etc, must be very clear. This is the number one way to convert a visitor to a customer.
My opinion is that it comes down to traffic and conversions. Most people don't know how to drive targeted traffic, so they get lots of bounces and very few conversions. If someone isn't interested in what you sell, but you pay for a Google ad that isn't a good fit, then you aren't going to be very happy with the lead and sales results.
Going one step further, if your site isn't designed to generate leads and sales, then you'll likely be disappointed as well. Lots of designers design for aesthetics not conversions which is a big mistake. Every design should start with goals in mind, and this influences the information architecture, the design, and the copy which ultimately is what will lead to sales and results.
So it comes down to two things: 1) Making sure you can drive targeted traffic and not just traffic (although traffic of any sort is a big problem for most people and 2) Designing your site for conversions, not just looks.
This is going to largely depend on which end of the marketing spectrum you find yourself on and also what type of marketing you're doing.
Who in the marketplace can you point to and say you want to be more like? Find that company and then we can talk about what you need to do.
Also, the value proposition has to be super clear. I've made this mistake in past projects where I've gotten caught up on design and 100 other things that I realize later it's not crystal clear what I'm selling. And if people don't know what you're selling, it's hard for them to buy.
Hope that helps. Happy to discuss further.