Not too long ago, HubSpot surprised the marketing world (and a lot of web designers) with its groundbreaking article, “17 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website.” Among the “annoying” website elements selected for vilification were a profusion of pop-up ads, “About Us” pages that don’t say what the company is about, slow load times, sites that aren’t responsive, poor navigation and cheesy, stock photography.
As they note in the article, some web designers seem to forget their frustrating experiences with other companies’ websites as soon as they begin designing their own:
“One of the tenets of inbound marketing is to not annoy people. So why is it that many websites are still chock full of the elements that so many visitors have bemoaned over and over? Perhaps with the sheer excitement (or terror, depending on your personality) that comes with designing your own website, all of the user experience quirks that have driven you crazy over the years escape your mind.”
If You Build It (Right), They Will Come
If you’re designing a new website or updating an existing one, the first thing to do is know why you’re designing it. Odds are that you want your visitors to be inspired by your homepage so they’ll navigate to other key pages, download important content (especially if you’re using that content for lead generation), buy your products or services, gain a sense of trust in your business, and start the process of moving from window shopper to loyal customer. But doing all those things means you need a smart design.
How to Build It Right (and Get the Results You Want)
Website design isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. After all, every business is different, with different customers and different marketing objectives. But every business should have a website that tells consumers what their company does, that’s easy to navigate, and that moves them to the information you want them to see.
That said, there are fundamental rules of the road when it comes to designing a smart website your customers will love, including the following 7:
1. Don’t Forget to Plan
Before you start designing, you need to map out precisely what you want visitors to do on your site. That means thinking through the entire buyer’s journey and making sure that journey is reflected in your website. What content do you want them to see? Are you trying to generate more new leads—and to nurture existing ones? Use what you know about your current customers to design a site that will inspire them.
2. Don’t Annoy Your Visitors
Remember the HubSpot article: don’t include site elements that annoy site visitors. That means steering clear of complex and distracting animations, weak photography (that says “unprofessional”), gratuitous popups, and a profusion of insider jargon or trite expressions. You want to build a site that creates a positive first impression within the first few seconds visitors are on it—unless you want an unacceptably high bounce rate.
3. Get Social
If you want to connect with customers and prospective customers, you need to be where they are—and that’s on social media. Including social media share buttons will make it easy for site visitors to share what they like about your business with their friends, family and colleagues. If you need some help getting the process off the ground, start with SumoMe and Shareaholic.
4. Tell Them What You Want Them to Do
Research shows that consumers are more likely to take the actions you want if you give them clear directions—and that means having easy to understand calls to action. Make your calls to action clear and compelling, and make sure they take visitors where you want them to go. Finally, don’t use calls to action only to generate leads—you need to move site visitors from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom.
5. Get the Navigation Right
This is perhaps the most important element of your new website. Navigation is the map that helps visitors move easily from where they are to where they want to go. To get the navigation right, you want a persistent navigation bar, a clear navigation hierarchy, and streamlined content.
6. Go Mobile
It’s been more than 4 years since Google announced that the majority of internet searches are now conducted on mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you can be sure they’ll have a miserable experience on your site, having trouble reading important content, navigating and clicking on critical links. In 2019, responsive website design is essential.
7. Make Sure They Can Find You
You need a sound search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to ensure that customers and prospective customers will see your site when they enter keywords related to what it is you do, the products you sell and the services you offer. To boost SEO, include as much relevant, valuable content as possible, from articles to blogs, videos, white papers, case studies, and webinars.
You don’t design a website just to show your friends what a pretty website you have. You design a website to help you achieve key marketing objectives, increase conversions, boost sales, build trust, and grow your business.
To learn more about the ways our digital marketing, brand strategy, marketing consulting, social media and content strategy services will help your business get from where you are to where you want to be, contact me for a consultation today.