Designing a professional, bespoke, purposeful website is much more than picking a pretty template and dropping in some text and a few stock shots. The 3 main elements to effective design are:
and in determining the objective of the site, there are just so many things to consider:
- Who is the target audience?
- Is the website providing information, a service, selling products
- What ONE thing would you want the user to do resulting from their visit
- How can you capitalise on the traffic to build long-term client relationships
- What is the ‘back-end’ of your sales funnel that will generate long-term profit?
There is a difference between a “web designer” and a “web marketer”. A web designer can make a web page pretty. A web marketer can make a web page pretty profitable.
A website can be considered to have 3 ‘legs’ to it:
- The Design aspects: graphics, layout, typography, animations etc.
- The Technology – is it Content-Managed, does it have a database, what coding etc.
- and the Marketing aspects, which we think are probably the most important
Of the huge number of web developers out there, most can produce a site that looks good, many, a site that works well. If you’re lucky you’ll get a site that does both. There are, however, few web designers that understand about marketing (it doesn’t feature in the Training Courses), and very, very few that are masters of all three aspects.
You’ll forgive the small credit that we’ve given ourselves for this, and our client list which validates it.
Although a list of tips is no substitute for a web-savvy marketing professional, there are certain industry best practices that every business can use as a guideline or “check sheet” to avoid some campaign-killing mistakes.
7 Factors for Good Web Design
1. Navigation (Menu) Design
Menu design is primarily allowing the user to engage with the site content in a way that supports the objectives of the site owner. The initial temptation is to include the ‘Usual Suspects’ – Home, About Us etc; however for most users this information will be irrelevant to their ‘WIIFM’ (What’s In It For Me) priorities. Also, be very careful of links ‘stealing clicks’ and distracting or redirecting users away from your site.
An understanding of what makes for good typography on the web is vital. Many conventional type controls are not possible. However, good, clear, screen font selection and size (10-12 pt), and attention to column widths for readability (ideally no more than 60 characters). Small point sizes may look great on the mock-up, but are hard work on-screen. Also correct accommodation needs to be made for resizing text to meet Accessibility requirements. Justification should be set to ‘align-left’ only – no full justification, and certainly no centred body text.
Colour choices should be appropriate to your market and your brand, but by and large have little influence on the effectiveness of a landing page. However poor colour choice that affects readability does have a negative effect. As a rule, copy should be black (or dark) text on a white (or light) background. Headlines: Large enough to be readable in most colours. Hotlinks: Blue until clicked and then turns purple.
4. Use of logos/’Trust Marks’
Consider using Trade Associations, client, Chamber of Commerce etc logos. Users find these reassuring as a badge of longevity and competence, and as visual devices they are a great way of breaking up a text-heavy page.
5. Response Devices
Unless you are cultivating a branding-only web presence (and why would you want to do that?), you are probably trying to encourage a particular response from your visitors. It’s important to consider that different personality types prefer to communicate using different media. Some people prefer to pick up the phone for the reassurance of a human voice; others prefer the anonymity or 24hr convenience of email.
And don’t forget! Put a phone number and email on EVERY page, not just the landing page or contact page.
Video can be a powerful tool or an unwanted irritant depending on how it is used. NEVER start playing the video automatically when the visitor arrives on the landing page, since it is disconcerting to have a sudden soundtrack forced on them. It may also be the case that the user may be in the work place and might bounce as soon as unexpected sounds start. They may want to scan the page before investigating the video, or simply adjust their speaker volume. The quickest way to shut down an unwanted video is to close the web page.
There are many reasons to use video; to educate, to demonstrate, to entertain etc. But be aware that the visitor may not have audio enabled, so the information should be available by other means.
Video Testimonials are very powerful. There is evidence to support that amateur video of a real person is more credible than professional video of a model. In the case of testimonials, or product demonstrations, it does give it a sense of authenticity.
7. Different Buttons design
After headlines, button copy, colour and shape is the most important element on the page. Don’t be afraid to test different shapes and colours; red vs. grey… round vs. rectangular etc. Wording is important as well. You may get different results from “Buy Now” vs. “Try it Now”, “Submit” vs. “Rush me My Report”. Different buttons work for different audiences.