The days of websites getting by with just a fancy design & some good content are gone. In this competitive day and age, you need to be gravely concerned about the user experience & functionality of your web design as well as the fact if it supports and enhances the delivery of your content, if you are to succeed.
A successful web design should able to clearly communicate to your website audience, who you are, what you offer, why do you offer it and to whom you offer it. A lot of the times many website designs try to be too flamboyant and lose focus as to what the main concerns of your audience are, when they visit your website. This is a bigger concern for e-commerce websites where customer retention is key to selling more products and expanding your business.
In order to help you to improve your web design and retain more visitors, we have compiled a list of 14 tactics that you can use:
- Make sure you have a Solid Plan in Place
A common mistake made when designing a website is that one only considers the visual element of it; you visualize how it should look and just design it. The practicality of the website must also be taken into account if you are to make sure it meets your visitors’ needs. This is especially important for e-commerce websites where you need to facilitate your visitor’s journey, from the time they first enter your website to the point they become a buyer.
In an e-commerce site the most important thing is to help nurture leads through the sales funnel. This means you have to look at what the customer sees when they enter your site, what they will read and what are the offers they see that will make them go for a transaction.
If possible, talk to your current customers, conduct interviews or hand out questionnaires to them and ask them about how they go about purchasing things. Plan out what sort of design would be best to facilitate that and then design your website intuitively based on the responses you get.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Remove Things
As grand as some may look, if an element in your website distracts a visitor from the message that you are trying to get through, it is not worth keeping it. Elements such as complex animations, large stock website images or long content are some of the major culprits in this regard.
In recent online surveys it was found out that audiences only have an attention span of 8 seconds. So by that time your design must be good enough to create a good first impression that will convey the main message of your website. This can be achieved by having smaller but more impactful segments containing the most important content which are separated by well-defined headers and complemented by small icons or photographs.
You have to make sure that these pieces of content contain no jargon or any text that leaves the visitor confused. It would be better if you periodically review the content using user feedback and see if there are any improvements to be made.
- Social Share and Follow Buttons are More Important than You Think
Social Sharing and Follow buttons are becoming quite valuable components of a good website design more and more. If you don’t have social share buttons on your website you could lose out on a lot of website traffic, prompted by people who visit your website and read your content. It is useless having great content and not giving your audience the chance to share it with their social circles.
Social share buttons are a bit of a novel concept but they are used in websites so much nowadays that we have turned unconscious to their presence. These buttons contain icons of various Social Media outlets and when clicked on one, the user will be able to share it on their specific social media stream or feed.
- Call-To-Action Markers
Call to Action markers or buttons are components in your website that prompt a user to take the next step or to lead them towards making a decision. When they initially enter your website visitors won’t be able to easily figure out what to do next, which action to take or what page to go to, because it is a new environment to them. This is where Call to Action Buttons usually come to the rescue.
While this concept might be easy to understand, it is hard to say that many websites make use of this accurately and help guide visitors through your website. Some designers tend to spam their websites with really bad call-to-action terms that lead the visitors directly to the very end of the business process of the website. This is not a smart move.
If most of your website pages or blog posts are prompting users to go for a trial, demo or a consultation using a call-to-action then you are doing it wrong. You must first add call-to-actions to educate your visitors about what you offer and help to solve their issues. Once they feel comfortable about you and with what you offer then only will they be able to take a decision to invest in any of the solutions you offer.
- The Correct Use of Images
Stock images are something that we all use when we design our websites. It’s easy, cheap and it gets the job done, but it might not be the smartest move. You see stock images will look okay at most times but it might not completely align with the message that you are trying to convey to your visitors.
Users can spy out stock images very easily and a website that uses stock images does not convey huge confidence to visitors by using them. The best thing to do is to use photographs of real people at real locations of your company. That is most likely to convince your audience that you are a genuine entity and that you can be trusted.
Even if you can’t get real photos, you can still use stock ones but you will have to be smart when choosing those images so that they won’t harm the trust in your company. Using the right kind of images will go a long way in building your brand image and conveying your message to your audience.
- Navigation is Key
When it comes to website design nothing can be worse than a jumbled & confusing navigation scheme. It can usually be the make or break element in any website.
When planning your website navigation, it is imperative that the users can easily find what they are looking for. The main sections/pages that the user will visit need to be highlighted in the sitemap and easily accessible.
Features such as streamlined content, responsive design, link hierarchy are imperative to have a lean yet, useful Navbar that does not change the experience when users access the site on mobile devices.
The bottom line is if visitors cannot locate what they came to your site for, they have no other reason to stay on your site. They will leave and add to your bounce rate and go to a competitor’s site. So always keep an eye on your site navigation during website design.
- Don’t Be Afraid of a Longer Homepage
Traditional thinking of Web Design is above the fold content before anything else. This has changed over the years though. Nowadays longer homages are fine. Splitting your homepage into 3-5 major sections and getting users to scroll through them, one after the other can give a seamless experience to them.
What these sections are can vary depending on your website and its objectives, but some of the more core elements can be: Intro Video, Overview of Services, Value Offers, About Us, Testimonials, Product Features and Success Stories.
- Empty White Space Is not all that Bad
Similarly called ‘Negative Space’, white space is the area surrounding the main sections or elements on the website which do not have any content or visual elements in them. To some it may seem like a waste, but white space helps a lot in breaking up the page into different sections and improving readability.
White space helps you when positioning different elements and when designing the website as a whole, to increase readability and to give priority to certain elements over others.
It would do well for your site if you do a visual review of it once in a while to see if the design is at an optimum level or if there are instances where you can remove certain elements and create more white space to improve your design.
- Optimizing for Mobiles
Ever since the mobile-first approach was adopted by search engines, to prioritize results on how websites performed on mobile devices over desktops, optimizing websites for mobile devices became even more important.
In this day and age where a large number of users access the internet from their mobile phones, a bad experience on their mobile device can make them quite reluctant to re-visit a website again.
When you are thinking of the website’s design for mobile devices you should always do in it reverse. Instead of looking at how I can morph my desktop design to fit a mobile screen, you should think about why is someone accessing my website on a mobile device? What service or product are they looking for? When you figure out those things you will know what you should prioritize or highlight in your mobile website design.
- Organic Search is Your Friend
The best way to make your website more popular and attract more traffic is to make sure that your website performs admirably on search engines. In order to do that you will have to start with a solid SEO strategy that you can use to make sure your target audience and your buyer personas will notice you online.
A good SEO strategy starts with an analysis of the search terms that your target audience would use to discover the products & services they look for. Once you identify these your task will be to create meaningful content with those search terms, that your audience would find useful and insert them into your website. These would typically consist of blog articles, videos, visual guides, infographics, etc.
Just make sure that you invest time and effort into creating only content that your target audience will be looking for. There are many different keywords that you can rank for but if you’re not attracting enough people who are actually looking for the products and services that you are offering, all that effort will be of no use.
- Never Halt Reviewing and Testing
Doing periodic reviews of your website is very important if you don’t want your site design to become stagnant. Once every few weeks you should go through your website, following conversion paths, seeing how far users scroll and what do they click on and check whether your page designs are performing the way you want them to.
While going through the website you might find pages with outdated information, ones that need design modifications or some tweaks here and there. Some of these pages, like older landing pages might still be working well but there will always be room for some improvement.
Making small design changes such as changing a little bit of content, adding a new image or even changing the call to action button could make a huge difference in how that specific page performs.
You can also set up user heat maps or set up multi-variant or A/B tests to see how users interact with your website and gain valuable information as to what you should do in order to get more out of your website.
- Always Check for Broken Links & 404 Errors
If your website is large and has been in operation for a long time there might be few pages here and there which are broken and pushing out 404 errors. These may actually be plaguing your website without you even knowing about it.
Consumer confidence in your website will go downhill rapidly when they encounter 404 errors. Doing regular audits of your websites using online tools such as Screaming Frog or Google Search Console will help you to figure out issues affecting your website’s health and fix them easily.
- Display More Unique Offerings
The main methods that websites use to convert visitors are to offer then trials, demos or free items. This is because as many as you know, converting a visitor is the main method to see if your audience is moving down your marketing funnel. But this is getting harder to do because nowadays there are so many websites, so may resources out there on the internet that it is more difficult to attract people to what you offer.
Because of this it is very important to evaluate what your resources are and what you can offer to your audience and try to go the extra step. Do not do what everyone else is doing or giving away. Look at what they give and add something to that. Try to offer something that is unique and new, something that the audience has never seen before.
In this day and age of fierce online competition, you have to make sure that you are a step ahead of your competition as well.
- Write Content That Will Appeal to Your Audience
Writing content that will appeal to your own specific target audience is an art in itself. There are so many things to talk about writing content but here we’ll discuss some small but significant points using some examples.
A lot of companies add a lot of ‘we’ or ‘our’ words in their content because they want to promote themselves. One might think ‘what is the big deal here’ but using such terms tend so to take the focus away from the users. Instead use terms like ‘you’ & ‘yours’ more, this prompts the customers to feel that you are more focused on them and what their requirements are instead of yourself.
Also on the job vacancies page instead of boasting about the company & what it can offer you, instead focus on conveying how the company values the futures and goals of the potential applicants and how the company plans to achieve success together with them.
These sorts of changes can be really subtle but it will affect the user’s subconscious and influence the way they see your company and the services you offer.