Websites are becoming much more complex to design and build effectively. Search Engine criteria, social sharing, call to action, compelling and original content-all have become more important than ever. The more complex a website becomes, the more likely that it will miss basic website rules that can hinder the user experience and conversion. The overriding basic goal of every website should be to is to address, and solve, the problem that motivated the website visitor to come to the website in the first place. If this can be accomplished in an entertaining and unique fashion, that is the best case scenario. The following mistakes need to be avoided in any website design, and are addressed in the form of questions you may wish to ask yourself when you evaluate your website through the eyes of a new visitor.
Why Are You Here?
Be right up front with the problems that your organization can solve, and how you can solve them better than the competition. If you have an Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or a service or business model that is superior to your competition, by all means, be right up front. Do not be shy about the features that make your business unique.
What Do I Do Next?
Whatever the action you wish a website visitor to take, whether it is to make an appointment, sign-up for a newsletter or webinar, buy product or receive additional information, you will need to have a clear call to action. Buttons that clearly state the next process for the viewer such as make an appointment, buy now, search our catalog, etc. are the preferred method. However, a call to action can also be a link built into the text in the interior of the site. Each page should have at least one call to action in a prominent position to encourage conversion.
Where is the Important Stuff?
Current website design strategy calls for a liberal use of white space and to avoid “clutter”. Don’t let the avoidance of clutter lead to important information like how to make an appointment, reasons that the website visitor should do business with your firm as opposed to your competitors, and the special features or pricing that you offer be buried on a page that is only linked from the sub navigation. Make the basics easy to find.
Are All of These Bells and Whistles Distracting?
The website that uses the newest and most visually appealing technology might be a great showpiece for the Website Designer, but often does not deliver the best user experience. Flash graphics or gigantic JPEGs may look great, but can often cause problems in load time and mobile access. I am a major proponent of websites that are visually appealing and reflect the uniqueness of the business, but it is important to find a balance between form and function. Your website visitors will be impressed with an easy to navigate site with simple, but functional graphics.
Is This Site for Me?
Your website should be designed for the market that you need to reach. If most of your website visitors are under 40, digital compliancy such as a responsive design or an app, if justified, should be explored. Also be careful to create content that is written in the jargon of the age group or market that you wish to reach. It is ok to have complex words in a site designed to reach Physicians, but not necessarily for an Auto Repair Shop. Current slang is ok for a Skateboard shop, but not a Pharmacy.
Why Are These Guys Trying So Hard to Impress Me?
Certifications, awards, and links to information that help the potential customer to understand the accomplishments of your business are important conversion tools. Too many of these on the home page may create a logjam of information, and give the impression that you are trying just a bit too hard to be impressive. All of your accomplishments should definitely be on your website, but spreading them throughout the site in the About Us page or even creating a separate page for Awards and Professional Certifications is a better option than creating too much clutter on the home page. Social Sharing buttons should appear on each page of the site.
Bottom Line: Something about a New Year always makes me want to get back to basics. The basic issues listed above are important to remember. Please remember that these are the basic website design practices that lead to websites that convert website visitors into customers.
Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, A Santa Rosa, California Website Design and Development Firm.