How to Improve a Website: The 5 Best Methods

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Building a Storybrand" by Donald Miller. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to improve a website? How can you make your website fit your storybrand?

Learning how to improve a website can have huge benefits for your company. You can improve technical aspects, as well as make your website fit into your storybrand.

Keep reading to find out how to improve a website.

How to Improve a Website

So you’ve created a brandscript. Now, it’s time to transfer the ideas and content in that script to your marketing materials, including how to improve your website. The more you can implement your brandscript into your marketing materials, the more customers will sign up to star in your story. Here’s how to use your brandscript to improve a website.

Overhauling Your Website

You don’t need a million-dollar advertising budget to implement your brandscript. Shoring up your digital presence, particularly your website, can substantially increase your customer engagement. No matter how someone hears about your brand, they’re going to end up on your website at some point to discover more. This is one way to learn how to improve your website.

The number-one mistake brands make with their websites is including too much noise. In earlier times, it was okay to give a lot of detail about a company on a website. These days, a website should be brief. The only two pieces of information a customer needs to get from your website are: 

  1. Your brand offers something they want.
  2. You can help them get what they want.

Five Ways to Improve a Website

There are many ways to cut down on noise and improve your website, but there are five ways that will get you more results than any of the others combined. As you read through the recommendations, keep in mind that every single image, idea, and word on your website should be inspired by your brandscript and can help in deciding how to improve a website.

1. Immediately make it clear what you can offer the customer. Place a short phrase and image that explain what your brand does on the top part of your website before a visitor has to scroll. (The part that’s viewable without scrolling is referred to as “above the fold.”) Don’t bury your explanation inside a paragraph.

The text and images above the fold must do at least one of the following:

  • Showcase an aspirational identity.
    • (Shortform example: A cooking school might promise to make a customer a grillmaster.)
  • Fix a problem.
    • (Shortform example: Your bug spray might prevent a customer from getting bitten by mosquitoes.)
  • Explain what the brand does. This is the easiest criteria to meet and is especially important if your brand name isn’t self-explanatory.
    • (Shortform example: if your company is called “Strangefellows,” your website should explain that you sell beer.)

2. Make the call to action unmistakable. The entire goal of your website is to get someone to buy your product, so the way in which a customer can do that should be obvious. 

Here are the steps for how to improve your website:

  • Make your direct call to action button distinct from any other button on the site by making it a bright color, bolded font, and so on.
  • Place one call to action button at the top right of your site. (Customers scan websites in a Z pattern, from the top left to the top right, down the middle to the bottom left and then bottom right.)
  • Place another button (that looks exactly the same as the one on the top right) in the center of the screen, above the fold. Again, this placement is to take advantage of that Z reading pattern. (Using two buttons isn’t heavy-handed. People skim rather than read websites, and most people need to see something more than once before they actually process it.)
  • Your transitional call to action button should also be obvious, but shouldn’t upstage the direct call button. The author likes to put the two buttons beside each other, the transitional one in a muter color.

3. Use images to show customer transformations. The images on your website are an opportunity to show the happy ending your product secures for your customers. Use images of happy-looking people using your products. Avoid images of your office building, which no customer is interested in and is a waste of their mental calories.

(Shortform example: Outdoor store Helly Hansen’s website shows pictures of people enjoying the use of Helly Hansen products outdoors.)

4. Simplify your explanation of your revenue streams. It’s not uncommon for businesses to have more than one revenue stream, and if you’re in this situation, you have two options: 

Option #1 for how to improve a website: Find an overall message that represents what you do as a whole.

  • For example, StoryBrand worked with a company that sold two planning products, one for individuals and one for executive leaders, and trained facilitators to teach the planning programs. Their overall message was offering to create a customized plan. Above the fold, their website showed an image of a facilitator teaching a plan and text about customized plans. After scrolling, customers could click to either the individual or executive plan, and these two pages both had calls to action to sign up. Additionally, there was a button on every page that called people to become facilitators.

Option #2 for how to improve a website: Market your revenue streams separately. Few companies will need to do this—most brands can be united under an overall message.

  • (Shortform example: The company Procter and Gamble sells a huge variety of products ranging from diapers to insect repellent. Each of their products has its own website.)  

5. Pare down text. These days, people only skim websites; they don’t read them. The shorter you make the text, the more likely someone is to read it. Some of the best websites the author has seen used less than ten sentences of text. If you do need to explain something at length, only display the first or second sentence and hide the rest behind a “read more” link. That way, no one will be overwhelmed by big blocks of text.

To pare down your text:

  • Use images instead.
  • Transform paragraphs into bullet points.
  • Shorten sentences to soundbites.
    • (Shortform example: Instead of writing a long sentence like “Our spa offers a premium luxury experience including a wide variety of treatments ,” write “Offering luxury.”) 

Now that you have methods for how to improve a website, you can make these changes as well as changes on site speed and more.

How to Improve a Website: The 5 Best Methods

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Donald Miller's "Building a Storybrand" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Building a Storybrand summary :

  • How storytelling enhances brand marketing
  • Why you should make the consumer the hero of your brand's story
  • The 7 elements that make marketing work

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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