A site that is cluttered, loud, or filled with pop-ups will turn potential customers away long before they make a purchase. It’s a given that a poorly-built site converts no one. Business owners need to draw in their consumers and keep them on the site long enough for a conversion. This only happens if the website architecture is sound, the message is easy to understand and the call-to-action is made clear. Below are actionable tips for each of the main aspects of site design.
Designers work with something called “wire frames” to build the bones of a website. These are simply boxes that indicate the positioning of all text and images on the site. When designing your page for the first time (or revamping an outdated site that isn’t pulling the numbers), spend some time looking at sites you enjoy, competitors’ sites, and some of the big players, such as Apple or Facebook. Sketch out their wire frames as inspiration for your own. Look for patterns about where they tend to put contact information, navigation bars and images. This is also a good time to notice any frustrations you encounter while browsing online; make a note of mistakes to be avoided in your own design. Very few sites have too much white space, so find a balance between critical information and keeping the page clean.
Once you have a site that is visually pleasing and easy to navigate, you don’t want customers wondering “But what does this business do?” Instead of overwhelming potential customers with your millions of choices, make it clear and simple. Use something no longer than a tagline to give an immediate overview, for example, “The Best in Dry Cleaning and Emergency Alterations.” A bold image that illustrates one of your products is a great way to make the point visually – this works especially well for creative types and bakeries. If photographing your own products, use a blank background, good lighting and a decent camera (not your phone!) to create a professional image. Your site’s message should be in line with the brand, from the design and tone of the text to the “About Us” and mission statement.
Call to Action
A business’s website serves partly to inform, but ultimately the goal is to engage the customer in one of three ways. You are most likely looking for a visitor to make a purchase, give contact information or share the site with others. Obviously your goals may include a combination of these actions, or even all three. However, it is important to make the call to action easy to find and use. Don’t ask visitors to open a new window to fill out an extensive form, instead, have a sign-up bar on the home page that can grab business email addresses. A shopping client should accept a variety of payment options and feel very secure. If you want customers to share your products or updates, incorporate a one-click button to upload to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Google+. Your customer profile and business determine which social media sites are the best fit.
Before a customer shakes your hand, walks through your door, or even speaks to you on the phone, your website is the face of your business. It should put forth a strong image of the brand, not just for marketing purposes, but because a carefully crafted website shows pride and professionalism in the business itself. Spend time looking critically at each aspect of your site to see how it reaches and exceeds its goals.