I remember in the early days (1999) when web design was just taking off how everyone thought that a great flash intro and some cool music looping in the background was a great way to welcome visitors to a website. Flash forward (pun intended) to today and giant sliders and video backgrounds are all the rage, and even these trends (in my opinion) will probably go out of style the way dial-up did in the early 2000s. I’m also pretty sure that today, if I tried to talk any client into looping an audio file on their website, there would be an angry mob of millennials with brightly lit images of pitchforks and torches on their mobile phones coming to get me.
When it comes to your website, design while important, is a fluid and changing thing that can and will evolve from year-to-year. However, website usability and your conversion rate of turning prospects into buyers(consumers) is not. This is an area that should ALWAYS be consistent regardless of the design. In the ever-evolving business of web design, of all of the trends that have come and gone over the last 20 years or so, I’ve discovered what I would call 4 constant fundamental practices that transcend the latest trends and fads and will make your website stand out from the rest. If your design is drowning out one of these 4 things, you may want to stop and re-think.
1.) Your website should be easy to understand:
The curse of annoying-pretentious-useless-business-jargon happens when a business leader knows so much about their products and services. They project that knowledge on their potential customers through paragraphs of website content. Most customers, however, will only give your website content a couple seconds to make a pitch, and that means it needs to be easy to understand. The best way to be easy to understand is to say it in clear language.
Simplify — Come up with a message and tagline for your brand and make sure it’s easy to understand. Keep product and services descriptions short and to the point. Skip technical lingo, most people won’t understand it. Forbes Magazine calls this striking this gobbledygook from your working vocabulary.
- (Good) Website Design & Hosting
- (Bad) IOT solutions provider
One says clearly states the service, the other is meaningless and vague.
2.) Include an obvious call to action:
It’s amazing how many companies don’t clearly ask for the sale with clear points of conversion. If your business is known for something, by all means feature that on your site as the first thing and make it very clear how people should buy it. Verbal sales are often missed or delayed because the seller has forgotten to give the customer a clear invitation to buy, selling on the web is no different. You must clearly ask, and clearly give direction where and how to buy through direct calls to action.
In other words, don’t try to be cute, coy or use a play on words, BE CLEAR WITH WHAT YOU DO, and lead with your dominant revenue stream! Don’t bury essential money makers on the back pages of your site buried under copy.
Examples of direct calls to action:
- Buy Now
- Place an Order
- Get a Quote
- Schedule an Appointment
- Learn More
3.) It’s about the customer:
A website isn’t about your company, as much as it’s about your customer. Everything on your website should be created with your customers in mind. Ask yourself this — do you know what your customer wants? If so, then tell them why you are the solution to their problem. Then give them a DIRECT call to action, and tell them what life looks like once you’ve solved their problem?
Too many companies talk about themselves and their accomplishments. While this isn’t always a bad thing, companies can quickly lose focus of how to relationally communicate to customers with real world problems that they are looking to you to solve. Pages of Bios with lots of cryptic titles, company portfolios and about us pages can be so in-depth that you can quickly seem either out of reach or out of touch with potential clients.
4.) Stay on Brand
Trendy websites are all the rage. You’ll hear terms like Responsive design, Parallax Scrolling, Video Backgrounds, Flat Design, etc. But all of these neat technologies are meaningless if your band consistency from one product and service to the next is not consistent. If your sign outside your building is blue with a white circle, but your website is red with a yellow square that’s a problem. But if the product or service you are selling in all of your newsprint ads are pink with a green triangle, you’ve got a branding consistency nightmare that will confuse your potential customers. Consistency tends to lead buyers down a funnel to buying, where confusion and inconsistency tend to throw red flags that keep people from buying.
Make sure that you’ve developed (at the least) a basic internal guideline of what colors, fonts and logo you should use to represent your company across all your marketing. This way when someone does visit your website, either from seeing a print ad, commercial, email blast or online ad, they know they’ve got the right site immediately just by visual brand recognition. Resist the urge to change your design, look and colors every few weeks. Over time, consistency builds familiarity and trust.