Would you show up on that ever-important first date with your sweaty workout clothes straight from leg-day at the gym?
Would you show up to your dream job’s hard-to-land interview wearing your favorite sweatshirt you still have from your high school band trip?
The answer to both of these should be obviously, no… and the truth is, when it comes to website design, many of the same rules apply. When sharing your website for the rest of the world to see, first impressions most definitely DO matter.
While sometimes it doesn’t ring true – more times than we actually imagine – it’s an accepted fact that people do judge books by their covers. To put it in online terms, your book cover is your website’s homepage, and when it comes to small businesses specifically, a homepage is a storefront…a calling card….a pickup line….get the picture?
Let’s break it down like this: Of all the tools in the small business owners’ marketing arsenal, your website is one of the most powerful (if not THE most powerful). A well-designed site – and this applies for ANY industry a business may serve – can be the critical difference that makes a prospective customer remain, browse and buy instead of moving on to a competitor’s page. Many small businesses hire web design professionals such as us here at Multiverse Media Group to design their site, yet it’s still important to know what you’re trying to achieve ahead of time to ensure the final product not only looks great, but also achieves your goals.
3 Awesome Website Design Tips
Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning an eye-catching, user-friendly and effective website for your business…
1. Make it Easy to be Contacted…Immediately –
Make sure you provide only relevant contact information, including phone number, email and physical address, on your homepage or as a header on EVERY page. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for someone to get in touch if they have a question, encounter a problem or would like more information about your products or services.
2. Know What “Above the Fold” Means and Ensure That You Have an Effective Call-to-Action –
One of the time-honored guidelines in web design is to keep the most important content “above the fold,” which was originally used to reference the upper half of a newspaper page. The term came to be defined as “the part of the page visible without scrolling,” but exactly where IS the fold? When we’re talking about computers made in the past several years, 1280 x 768 is the smallest common “resolution” – a “full-screen” browser window on such a computer is approximately 700 pixels in height, depending on browser toolbars and such. On a 27-inch iMac, this can be about 1200 pixels high, but if you’re going to plan for the fold, you have to plan for the smallest common screen – thus, the 700-pixel guideline.
Are you mobile friendly?
As we move into the absolutely on-fire mobile device era, this “fold” has an entirely different place on a phone and a tablet – and, for all intents and purposes, on an iPhone versus Android phone, or one Android phone versus another or a tablet in landscape orientation versus portrait orientation. But irrespective of all this, what’s important to remember is that the concept of “content that is visible on initial page load” is still meaningful. Now, you just need to consider the “fold” separately for different kinds of devices.
While you don’t need to put all vital content above the fold, this part of the page does indeed create a visitor’s first impression, so it deserves some kind of special attention. This begins to get into the call-to-action factor, because the job of the above-the-fold content is to engage people enough to get them to take some action – that is, something OTHER than clicking the “BACK” button. The desired action might be filling out a form or clicking a button, but it can just as easily encompass scrolling down to read the rest of the page.
MVMG Quick Tip: People WILL scroll…IF they are interested in your content.
Landing pages tend to get the most testing of any type of web page, as they have a simplistic metric that is easy to measure – the percentage of visitors who respond to the call-to-action. We have covered the importance of calls-to-action on websites ad nauseam on our blogs, but for good reason; when talking about page folds, some tests have found that calls-to-action show a benefit when placed above the fold, while other tests suggest designs with calls-to-action well below the fold can yield much better results…it really all depends on your content. The lesson here, however, is that to boast an optimal web design, you should never underestimate the power of calls-to-action.
3. Ensure You Use Web Copy That Works –
If you haven’t already figured this out, simply having a website is rarely enough these days. To make the most of your web presence, you need to ensure the content is fresh, relevant and accurate…and if you are looking to attract new customers as well as secure existing clients, your website needs to send out the right message. From news and product information to blogs and client testimonials, it’s vital to consider what content to include and how to write and present it online.
In the realm of website copywriting, the golden rule has to do with meeting your customers’ needs. You see, website copy is the meat of all business websites, but the trick is to tell people what you can do for them without simply regurgitating how great you are. Similarly, it’s not effective to repeat rambling mission statements or visions of the future; make sure your copy really helps the visitor to your site.
MVMG Quick Tip: In website copywriting, you should be addressing your audience and their needs rather than talking about yourself; it’s less about the “I” and “we” and more about “you.”
Avoid jargon and ensure to use descriptive language, starting by considering all of the queries people might have about your business and writing down the answers in straightforward verbiage. In other words, put yourself in your customers’ shoes: They’ll be wondering “Is this company reputable? Who else have they worked with? What is their standard of work like? Will I see value for my money?” Answer their questions and you’re more likely to convert a visit into a sale.
Further, never forget the information that guides people through registration, sign-ups or purchases; we can’t tell you how many poorly-constructed websites we’ve seen that suffered from “drop-outs” at this point simply through a lack of concise information or over-complicated processes. Tell people exactly what they need to do at each step through your copywriting, and ensure your online forms – such as registration or order manifests – are simple and require the minimum amount of necessary information.
When it comes to structuring your content, keep in mind that people have a tendency to scan websites rather than read them – another topic we’ve covered in length on our blogs – so break up chunks of text with lists, subheadings and headings. Other things you can try include:
- Repeat key information on each page, as customers can land anywhere on your site. Make sure that each page can stand as a solitary entity.
- Try to organize the content in a logical manner; if it’s a long string of text, try writing a summary and provide a standalone link to additional information so visitors don’t feel inundated.
- To keep things fresh, update your site regularly, particularly in the areas of date-sensitive news announcements and blogs, while thinking carefully about removing old copy. Why do we say this? Once a page is imbedded in a search engine index, you could lose your ranking if you fiddle with copy too much; instead, do some tweaking if the information is a bit out of date.
- Make sure you include keywords to improve your Search Engine Optimization, while at the same time avoiding focusing on certain words.
- Consider using a professional copywriting service which will not only tidy up your content but polish your verbiage so that it shines like glistening new silver.
So, to summarize…
We know what kind of a nightmare dealing with ineffective web design can be – you were promised a brilliant website design, but all you received was a big, hot mess. And while you may not be an expert in such matters, you know what’s good and what’s not, and you also know when you’re being taken advantage of. All you wanted was a website that would help you succeed in the online community, and what you got instead wasn’t worth the pixels it was painted on.
What’s worse, you now had to start over, losing months of valuable time, burning through thousands of dollars attempting to mend your business’ reputation while going through the emotional turmoil of it all…and now you feel you have to do the whole thing all over again. MVMG isn’t going to let that happen, though. These aforementioned web design tips aren’t the types of things graphic designers would just divulge, but following them can rejuvenate your peace of mind when it comes to marketing your business.