Sometimes we don't realize what is good or bad about our website. To ensure your website meets your clients needs, seek a fresh perspective on things. I'm sure you would hate to discover a few months down the road that people were not hiring you because of something on your website or because something was missing from your website.

When I work with a client to create their new website, I always recommend that they do an external assessment of their website. Not only will it help your business look more professional, it will also a dialogue with them and increase their awareness of your business. Here is how it works.

Who should you survey?

Contact at least 5 to 10 people who you trust (the more the better). If you know people in your target markets, ask them. Not only are they in a position to see things from your potential clients perspective, will appreciate the fact that you value their input. Friends, relatives, colleagues are good candidates too.

What do you want to know?

Ask them to put themselves in the mindset of someone who could use your services and invite them to visit your website and honestly tell you:

  • What they don't like about it;
  • What they had trouble understanding;
  • What they had trouble or could not find that would have been important to them in making the decision to contact you
  • How, in their opinion, it could be better.

Come up with a list of the 3 specific burning questions that will help you the most. Remember, the point is not to boost your ego. You really want to hear the constructive criticism they have to offer. Naturally you want to write out your questions and make them as professional as possible. Even though this is just a survey, people are always evaluating you as a potential service provider for their business.

Here are some examples of questions you might ask:

1. "I really value your opinion and I really want to have a website that connects with my clients. Please share with me what did you not like about the website and how do you think it could be better?"

2. "If you were to consider hiring my services, what information would YOU want to see on my website?" -- This question sets the person up with a hidden agenda. Not only are you asking them for information, psychologically they will start to consider the possibility of hiring you.

3. "Can you give me the name and contact information of someone you think who would be interested in completing this survey?"

Feel free to come up with your own version of these questions. You might even choose to customize it based on who you are offering it to and what their business is.

Be sure to provide them with a direct link to your site's home page, in their preferred language if applicable.

Keep track of your requests and results to find out who is more likely to help you out in the future.

You can optionally let them know that you will be offering a 5% (or whatever you feel is fair) discount on your services for each question they properly answered up to 15% (again, you decide what you are comfortable with). This discount will be applied to their first invoice dated and paid before a date you need to specify. Isn't making you look good in your potential customers eyes worth something to you? Of course "cash rewards" works too ;-).

How Do I Follow Up?

If these people really want to help you, you WILL successfully receive negative feedback from them. I say "successfully" because this is actually good thing. It will:

  • Give you insight into what your customers think about your site
  • Give you an opportunity to address these issues with your website and project a professional image of your company as soon as possible
  • Give the people you survey an opportunity to become aware of your services and refer you to people they know who could benefit from your services.
  • Give you the opportunity to get your business in front of connectors, people you might never have been themselves interested in your services
  • Give you an opportunity to start a dialogue with these people and answer their questions
  • By asking them to get their head into a mindset of your clients, they could start thinking about ways to take advantage of your services themselves.

No matter what they say, express your appreciation. Only respond in a positive way, even if you need to walk away from their feedback for a day or so. Remember that complaints and criticism are what you asked for.  Never respond in a negative way or try to justify your position, even if you feel attacked or criticized. This is one of those trust building moments. It's not easy for some people to openly offer criticism. If you lose their trust here, they may never help you again.

IMPORTANT: Always express your appreciation and gratitude as soon as possible after you receive their feedback. Don't wait until you take action on their suggestions.  Not only will they appreciate it, but it will create a second opportunity to get in front of them when you send them another thank you note where you let them know that you took action on their suggestions.