Just having a digital presence isn’t enough in the super-competitive marketplace we operate in. You need something that can help you capitalize on the opportunities that pop up, captivating real and live human readers that get to digitally interact with you.
What you need is a nicely optimized, fully functional, interactive website that makes it all possible and easy for you.
The sad bit is that in the oversimplified world of digital marketing, where people are driven to derive their jollies from being the jacks of all trades, the internet is swarmed with poorly designed websites that fall short in almost all the vital aspects that make a great design. Worse yet, web developers and clients alike play part in the delinquent outbreak of bad designs.
This post strives to put an end to the poor designs overrunning the blogosphere. It does this by dishing out some of the best practises that web developers and clients can adopt to steer their designs in the right direction instead of churning out haphazard sites that end up doing the World Wide Web more harm than the expected good.
Online marketers just plunge into marketing without directing much thought to branding. More specifically, they’re just NOT aware of how branding influences their marketing effort and conversions.
Among the brands to take a cue from there’s Apple at the very top. No company can actually stand and say they’ve done a better job mastering the nuances of branding as this big player in the tech industry.
The off-the-wall logo aside, every element Apples applies on the site conveys unique brand values – that is, useful tools, elegance, and sleek design, which reflects in almost every single one of the products flowing through their pipeline.
Among the things you notice when you first visit their site are:
– A visible logo that’s strategically placed so as NOT to come off as overwhelming to the people checking the site out.
– A succinct headline and compressed subhead that communicates the goals of the brand.
– A photo image of a sleek product.
You must have noticed that every single one of the highlighted features represent Apple’s core values. They’re the first thing that crop up a consumer’s mind every time someone mentions Apple or any of its products.
So as you make an effort to brand your business through your website, don’t make the mistake of robbing it of its aesthetic value. Start by focusing on storytelling. What story does your branding tell about your business? Is the story right? Does it evoke the right feeling?
Which is basically to say, web designing is all about telling the best story you can about your business. Based on the values and beliefs you represent as a company, that’s the mental picture your target audience will be painting every time someone mentions your brand or any product that happens to flow in your pipeline.
Don’t Make Your Website too Cluttered
Your website needs some room to breathe, which can be achieved using the white spaces between elements.
You can do this by avoiding to group elements so close together. The people visiting your site don’t want to be overwhelmed with content. They want a breather, not a block-like and cluttered smorgasbord of different elements and web content.
The internet is filled with cluttered sites, and one thing you’d all agree on is that they’re among the sites that register the highest bounce rate.
To avoid overwhelming your visitors with muddled up content and web elements, first consider using margins and padding to increase the space between your web elements, images, and written content.
Reduce the Number of Options You Offer
When your visitors are presented with so many options, they experience what’s widely referred to as analysis paralysis. First, they have to dedicate an overwhelming chunk of their time deciding from the options they have which one suits them most.
However, if you really have to offer them all the choices, then make an effort to suggest a course of action or recommendation.
For instance, say you have an option of 20 products to suggest to the visitors you attract to your site. Instead of lining up all the 20 items and waiting for the customer to decide which one of them is best suited for their needs, then why NOT use your experience to select just one of the products and offer it as a recommendation.
The product don’t have to necessarily serve the same function. What you’re doing is selecting the most selling product in your pipeline and using it to represent the values of your company.
A classic example of a company that understands this simple trick is Apple. Instead of lining up their iPads, MacBook laptops, Desktops, and iPhones, the company has a single screenshot of a sleek iPhone on their site to represent all their products.
The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds would still work on web design the same way it works on photography and fine art. With the rule, first you have to make an equally spaced overlay of two vertical and two horizontal lines.
The rectangular box formed at the centre represents the centre point where the eye drifts every time people look at the scene – whether in web design or landscape photography.
That makes it the ideal spot to place the most vital message or information you intend to pass across – like the CTA button. But even while doing this, try to work out the design in such a way that all the elements surrounding the section don’t appear forced without a natural flow.
Compress the Images You Use to Increase Load Time
The ideal load time for sites that want to appeal to search engines for an elevated rank is 3 seconds. However, a great majority of sites making up the web happen to load way slower than that.
You’d want your site to load faster because online users are thought to have short attention spans. They just can’t retain their concentration on your web content for longer periods of time. Now, imagine a scenario where they have to keep on staring at a blank page for 5 seconds or so as they await it to load.
Before you know it, most of them would have subconsciously hit the exit button or replaced the link with something else.
To boost conversions, try coming up with tested ways to make the site load faster. One way to do this is by making the site less bulky.
Start by compressing the images you use on the site. Make sure they aren’t bigger than what’s demanded by your screen size.
You’re also allowed to compress them after uploading. For WordPress users, that shouldn’t be much of a tough task considering there exists scores of plugins that are specifically designed to help you with that.
A good example is Smushit. Not only can the plugin help you to compress your images without getting them pixilated, it’s also lightweight enough NOT to affect the load time. Works even better if you operate a site with lots of images, and you’d want them to quickly load without dragging the rest of the site down.
Your website is your virtual map leading up to lots of disparate destinations. Your visitors are dropped off at different destinations based on the link they got.
Breadcrumbs are like the signs that clue them in on their present location. They’re the signs that informs them about their current page, besides helping with the site’s navigation.
They also help your visitors to retrace the previous post, find similar content, or uncover what’s coming up next.
Breadcrumbs are even more important when they’re added on an ecommerce site. You know, those sites that boast hundreds of nested categories and subcategories. You want your online visitors to be directed to a page they like, without getting lost along the way.
Use Colour and Contrast Where Applicable
Contrast enhances the clarity of your web content, making it stand out from the rest of the elements.
So in case you have a piece of content you want your visitors to see without fail, then it would make more sense for you to apply this one important trick to the designing bit of your web development process.
Use great contrast for your CTA, and watch your conversion rate increase. The whole idea is to increase the odds of your visitors clicking through the CTAs. And one way to get this done is to make sure the CTA is conspicuous enough so as not to escape an eye.
Animate the Top Bars and Popups
This is a fine line to tread on – given it can either make or break your conversions. The reason being, if your visitors find the popups and animations annoying, they’d most likely exit the site without bothering to find out what it’s all about.
However, if handled properly, with the subtleties they deserve, they can be really resourceful in the manner at which they draw attention to your CTA and boost up your conversions.
For WordPress users, you have the option to use the hello bar, which comes with an option to animate the CTA. Here, you can animate the entry and exit of the bar for an even more attention-grabbing CTA.
Lump Similar Elements into one Group
When your visitors glance over your site, they can tell where to find a piece of content they’re looking for based on menu titles and related items.
Find out how the different elements play into each other and come up with sound ways on how to arrange or rearrange them on the site. A common example is CTAs and testimonials, which create an even bigger impact when juxtaposed.
The two may be totally different, but they just happen to fall on the same side of the spectrum, in a way. If anything, after a visitor is done reading through the testimonials on site, and it just so happens that they’re impressed enough, then first thing they’d be thinking is taking action. So it makes sense when they don’t have to hover to a far off spot to find the CTA button.
Use People’s Faces where Applicable
Human faces have been found to evoke emotions. People look at someone’s face and empathize with it. Whether it is sadness, happiness, or excitement, the emotion the person conveys through their face is somehow contagious.
That’s because humans are programmed to read faces and find ways to relate with them. The expressions then get to influence how they end up feeling.
Let’s say the images on your site are those of happy people, then the visitors you attract will automatically learn to associate your brand with happiness. And if happiness is what they get when they check you out, then they’d want to try out your products or services for a taste of the happiness in real time.
Leverage on Familiarity
What are your customers already used to? Are they used to seeing things handled in a certain manner?
Let’s take for instance that majority of the visitors you get are used to shopping online. They’ve probably bought an item on Amazon or any other ecommerce store you happen to know.
They’re used to seeing the ‘Add to Cart’ button placed below the products they’re contemplating on buying. So why NOT design your site along the lines so they’ll have an easy time figuring out how to proceed with anything.
That way, when the customers see the button, they’ll have an easy time figuring out what they’re expected to do as opposed to being presented with something entirely different.
The Add to Cart button you used shouldn’t be much different from that of Amazon or any renowned ecommerce store around you.
Follow the Path of Less Resistance
Don’t bombard your visitors with too many options than they can navigate through or take a more complicated approach than they can crack.
It’s also important that you try adopting business practices that best cultivate the desire to shop with you. The idea is to work around a design that best gets majority of the visitors you attract to take action.
For instance, try making the ‘buy now’ button conspicuous enough so it doesn’t escape the eye of an online shopper. You can also design a simple buy now form that alerts the sales team when someone makes an attempt to buy something on your site.
In summary, anything that simplifies the buying process is highly welcomed, and anything that tries to complicate how your visitors get to interact with your site shunned like the turn off it is.
Get Yourself into the Mind of Your Visitors
Imagine yourself as one of the visitors that happens to have landed on your site. Which navigation path are you likely to take? Also, how do you plan to interact with your site?
Another trick would be to try using a mouse recording tool to find out how your users move their cursors around your site. With the tool, you should be able to see how they scroll through the site and get to interact with the various CTA elements on your website.
The information provided should also hint you on the pages that generate the highest conversion. That way, you should be able to figure out what to improve and move around for a better site experience in the future.
It’s a Wrap
A good web design is all about embracing good practices and shunning out the rest. But what’s important is that you try subjecting every new idea you come up with to a test before you get to fully implement them.
The practices listed above should open up your mind to what’s expected of you, but just in case you want each of the points belaboured, you’re invited to reach out to MediaOne today for a free SEO and web design consultation.