Web Design Elements That Can’t Be Left Out
It’s pretty much assumed knowledge these days that your web design and overall online presence are more important than ever. Even if you aren’t selling products or services directly online, the majority of your customers and potential customers will go there to find information about your company. It used to be simple enough; have a homepage with your phone number and address, and you were done. With changes to the way Google ranks web pages, along with the expectation of what a website should be by your visitors; this is no longer the case.
While your website will have to be attractive and engaging, there are fundamental steps that need to be adhered to that trump aesthetics in terms of keeping customers on your website and getting them to either contact you, or purchase from you. The following 5 steps are by no means exhaustive, but if you miss any of these, you are directly limiting your traffic and reducing your conversion rate.
1) Navigation and Usability
If a website is complicated, has unfamiliar menu styles or prevents a customer from taking the action they want to take, they are just as likely to hit the back button and find another website that doesn’t cause them frustration. Customers should be able to find what they need, when they need it.
We know a few things that customers generally want at some point on any given website;
Your Phone Number: If you have provided quality information and the potential customer trusts what they see, the next step is to call you. I’ll go into more detail about this in the next section.
Easy Navigation Menu: Navigation is currently going through a shift as devices trend towards touch screen, even in desktop devices. Check out the BBC Homepage as a source of what large companies are doing to be future thinking, specifically for touch screen devices.
But even on the most forward thinking websites, navigation menus are clearly placed in universal places; namely the across the top or (less often) down the left. Ensure each webpage you list has a purpose and also make sure that you include essential pages such as ‘About Us’ and ‘Contact Us’. Having these pages creates a sense that your website is legitimate and that your physical address details (if applicable) are easily reached. If your customers want to know more about you, let them!
2) Clear and Accessible Contact Information
One of the most frustrating things is having a question about a product or service and not knowing how to reach anyone in an organization to get it answered. All the best SEO, simplified navigational features and smoothest graphics are for nothing if your customers simply can’t call you. Your customers shouldn’t have to spend any time at all looking for your phone number, email address or contact us form. These three things are staples in a functional, customer focused website.
Your phone number and email address should be located in all the best positions of the website. The headers and footers are essential contact info points, as well as the ever present ‘Contact Us’ and ‘About Us’ pages. Even your frequently asked questions can benefit from having a contact form for any questions they don’t see answered on the page.
In the case of contact information, less is not more. Include a mailing address (not just a PO box), a fax number if applicable, and any other business related contact details. Customer’s may never need them or use them, but knowing where a business is goes a long way to establishing credibility and ultimately, closing a sale.
A key point about phone numbers to note is that it’s not enough to simply put the number on the page. You must ensure that you or your web designer use ‘click to call’ html code. That’s the code behind the phone number that enables viewers on mobile devices to click it, and immediately be able to call you. Do you remember how annoyed you were when you finally found a number on your phone, only to be forced to copy and paste it to your dialer? You can’t? Probably because you hit back and went to another website.
3) Keep It Up To Date
Being ‘outdated’ covers a few components of your website. If your ‘new’ item that you’re selling is a phone from 12 months ago, rest assured no one will feel confident in buying from you. If you have a blog but haven’t put any updates on it for over 12 months, potential customers will view you as inactive and unlikely to be still in business. Dead links (links that lead to 404 errors or pages that no longer exist) show that a business just isn’t bothered, which may translate to a sloppy service or bad after sales service.
When it comes to website best practice, it’ss important to note that sooner or later, a website needs to be updated and refreshed. Things like responsive designs that are suitable for mobile devices weren’t a thing 5 years ago. Now, you get penalized for not catering for mobile browsers, but lower rankings in search engines.
Speed is an integral factor in modern web design. Being that most people are browsing on mobile devices and on mobile networks, half seconds here and there add up to a better browsing experience. Be sure to audit your website or hire someone every few months to check for any photos that are causing delays, links that go nowhere and your contact info is current.
If your customers can easily recognize your branding styles and colours across your digital and standard promotional material, you are on the right path.
Your colour palette selection has an important psychological impact that hinges both on what impression you want to give you customer and what is the standard in your industry. For example, while red means buy now and black means prestige, you may not want these colours if you are selling warehouse second furniture. Alternatively, if no one in your industry uses the colour scheme, you may think twice about whether it will confuse your customers.
Your font combination needs to be a balance of what is visible on the highest amount of computer monitors in the world, coupled with a style that represents the message your company is trying to portray.
It’s important that photos and graphics all look consistent and are themed to match the rest of your marketing materials, such as business cards.
5) Great Quality and Relevant Images
We are all visual creatures, responding much better to a picture than a wall of text. The saying ‘A picture is worth 1000 words’ is no exaggeration. Visual content keeps customers on your page and drives user engagement.
Everything from a proper icon pack that is consistent with your theme, to infographics that showcase your latest blog post concept, to high quality images of your office or team. Your products, examples of your services, faces to go with testimonials. Wherever there are words, there are opportunities to say more with pictures, and keep customers buying from you, the brand they trust.
With all these points being essential, if anything they simply highlight the depth of what can make your web design good or bad. It can be hard to balance your time between building and running a website, and simply running your business. If you’re have trouble getting the balance right, or need an up to date evaluation of what direction your website needs to go in next, get in touch with us to analyse your web design. We will help you figure out if you need a slight touch up, or a complete overhaul!
Thanks for taking the time to read, if you have any ideas for other key aspects of web design that helped improve sales on your website, please comment and share below.