Website Design Tips – 20 Things Your Website Needs
The goal for any website is there to showcase what you have to offer, more importantly, it’s there to help you drive sales either online or over the phone. Our website design tips should help you do more of that!
Taking SEO and ranking position to one side, let’s assume that your website is already highly positioned in SERPs and you’re getting lots of traffic.
The next question you should ask yourself is, out of all the traffic that you’re receiving how can you improve your website to turn more visitors into becoming customers?
With this question in mind, we have put together some website design tips that you can do to improve your current site.
Some of the things you’re probably already doing, others will be simple to implement, and some may mean that you will have to get the help of an external web company.
We have broken the guide up into twenty easy to digest tips, however this is just a starting point to make sure your website is on the right track:
Website Design Tips #1 – Set your goals
It may sound obvious, but what, in an ideal world would you want your website to do for your business?
Now this isn’t specifically anything to do with website design tips its more about planning what elements your website may need in order to achieve your goals.
For instance, if you’re planning to use email as part of your marketing efforts, how do you intend to build your email lists? How will you capture them on your website?
Another example would be, does your website need a live chat facility allowing your agents to respond instantly to questions from your website visitors? If so, how will the website achieve this and what platform would you likely use? Are there costs involved?
Planning is one of the most important aspects when looking to build a new website or when you’re looking to improve on what you’ve already got.
Even if you currently have a website, it’s always a good idea to review what you already have and look at ways that you can improve, both in terms of UX (user experience) and UI (user interface design). Always review and strive for constant improvement!
Write down a list of goals for the website, what you believe your website should contain and start from there.
Website Design Tips #2 – Website navigation
The navigation on all websites is super important. A good, well laid out navigation is always needed to help your visitors get to the page that they are looking to find. There are also many website navigation mistakes you should avoid.
There are some key points that help with a great navigational structure such as the following:
“Services”, “solutions” and “latest” doesn’t really tell a visitor what you actually do. Use descriptive words and phrases that people will easily understand that describe what they will find if they click on that link.
If you’re a plumber for instance, try not to use “services” it says nothing. A better description would be “boiler installation”.
It goes without saying, if you have many services that you offer and have multiple pages, then you will need a navigation on your website with multiple tiers or in other words a ‘sub menu’.
In the case of the plumber example above, you could use “domestic plumbing” as the main heading with a sub menu of “boiler installation” and “boiler repair”.
By doing this, it is not only good for website visitors, but it also will help search engines understand what the pages are about.
As your navigation appears on each page of your site it hammers home to search engines that you are really focused on that subject. Also, as each web page on your site has the chance to rank, it’s a small way of optimising your website.
Reduce the number of main menu items to seven
Remember that you are always trying to make your website as easy to navigate as possible. Website visitors tend to scan page content, too many items and its information overload.
Also, if your main navigation instantly shows 25 things for instance, where do you want a visitor to go next once they have landed on your homepage?
Order your website navigation right
You now know that the number of items in your navigation is important but going on a stage further you need to think about what order items appear.
Think of your website navigation as a list. Items that appear at the beginning and at the end are the most important, it’s called the serial position effect.
It’s a fancy term, but all it means is that studies have shown that people remember the first and last things in a list more than the data in the middle.
So, in web navigational terms, it means to put the most important thing that you want your visitors to read in the first position.
Position of your navigation
Now you may think this is obvious, however we’ve seen hundreds of websites that have their navigation towards the middle of their homepages.
Place your website navigation right at the top of the website. Also, a good idea is to make sure that when your website visitors scroll down your site that the ‘menu’ is always pinned to the top.
If a visitor does read down your web pages and they want to look elsewhere on your site, they can instantly ‘navigate’ to another page with ease.
Again, it’s helping your visitor by not making them scroll back to the top.
Website Design Tips #3 – Colour of your buttons
It doesn’t matter too much what colour scheme your website uses. A good rule of thumb is to make your buttons and the most important areas that you want your website visitor to click, to be in a contrasting tone or colour that stands out from the background.
By using a contrasting button colour on your website for the key things you’ll increase the number of people that perform that action as they stand out.
Website Design Tips #4 – Clear visitor path
This is slightly different to your website navigation.
Whenever a visitor lands on your web pages there needs to be a seamless journey on what you want them to do next.
For instance, if your website visitor goes to your ‘about’ page then they really want to know more about your company. The next logical step once they are on that page is to offer them more about you.
You could, for instance, include a link on that page to ‘our awards’, ‘our history’ or ‘our values’ web pages as an example. You’re giving them more of what they want.
Another example, if you’re a solicitor, on your ‘wills’ page, you know that if someone is on that page they are there because they are interested in finding out more about that.
You could have a CTA (Call to action) offering them a ’30 minute free will review’ or a link to a blog article relating to ‘top ten reasons you shouldn’t be without a will’.
As you can see by doing this, you’re creating a clear path that your website visitors will want to follow, giving them exactly what they need, leading them onto the next step.
Help them take their next step
The goal here is once they are clicking through to next step that they are being satisfied and will perform the final action of contacting you or making a purchase.
It’s the same principle if you are wanting to build an online shop. Say you sell women’s dresses. If someone lands on a red dress product page, you know that your visitor’s intention is to look at ‘red dresses’.
Ideally you could for instance have your ‘related products’ on that page be other red dresses.
Website Design Tips #5 – Testimonials and reviews
Make sure that you include reviews and testimonials on your website as they are super important in helping convert your visitors.
Many studies have been researched on this subject.
In one, it has been said that when a business earns 10 or more reviews the results can be a 15-20% increase in search traffic.
The simple fact is if you don’t have reviews on your website, you’ll likely be losing traffic and business. Make sure your website has them!
Website Design Tips #6 – Case studies and success stories
They are very similar to the above, however this is your chance to provide more details with the aim of convincing (converting) a visitor to contact you. Case studies on your website are incredibly powerful.
When you include case studies on your website, make sure they are real and not exaggerated as people will see through this.
Also, if you can try and include real images and even mention who the case study is about. It’s also a great idea to try to add a real testimonial from a person with their name. This provides evidence that it’s a real-life story.
Website Design Tips #7 – Partnership or ‘featured in’ logo
Again, this is all about building trust with your audience.
If your products or services have been featured in the press, reviewed online or mentioned within a blog, then try and include their logos on your website.
Also, if you’re a member of any associations, have a major partnership, won any awards or accolades, again add these in.
It’s also beneficial to include external links on your website to where you have been mentioned online. If doing this, a top tip is to make sure that the website opens in a new window. Always keep visitors on your website!!
By adding in well-known logos, sublimely your website is helping tell your audience that you’re an amazing company to use just by association. It builds confidence and prestige and that can only be a good thing.
Website Design Tips #8 – Guarantees and added value
If you offer something extra special like a cast iron money back guarantee, free shipping, a free product trial or free returns then make sure you include these in a prominent position and throughout your website.
They are an amazing way of helping put a website visitors mind at rest, especially if they are still deciding whether to use you or not.
By doing this, it could be the difference between someone deciding on your business and not your competitors.
At any stage if you can show you offer additional value, always do so!
Website Design Tips #9 – Blogs and education
We all should know how blogs are important on a website are and we’re not going to talk about this here.
But we need to talk about the types of blogs that you create and what makes a blog successful.
When you create content for your blog, it needs to ALWAYS bring value to the reader. Don’t use your blog as a soap box to tell everyone how great your business is. People will turn off straight away.
The blog on your website needs to educate, be inspiring and be of use to your reader.
Using the previous example, of the plumber. Now you’re probably thinking “what value can they bring in a blog?”.
Simple really, think about why someone would want to be on a website of a plumber, probably because they have a problem or looking for a new central heating system fitted for example.
They could produce a blog post about ‘how new boilers are able to save money on energy bills’ or ‘what to do if get a leaky tap’.
It brings value to the reader and is on topic of what the plumber does.
Website Design Tips #10 – Photography
Most websites will use photos of some kind or another. Whether its product shots for your ecommerce store or pictures of work etc.
There are some key things to consider with using photos on your website.
Make sure they are high quality but we don’t necessarily mean running out and hiring a professional photographer as this can be quite expensive for many small businesses.
What we mean by high quality is make sure that they don’t look like they have been taken with a phone camera, that they are clear and unfuzzy.
Also, they need to truly represent the look of your business.
Bad photography can be an instant turn off to a website visitor, they can make you look unprofessional and lose trust from your audience.
One good option is to use a stock photography website that you can purchase images from and they are relatively cheap. There are even some free ones.
If you do decide on this option, again we must stress that they represent your business.
For instance, if you’re a restaurant in the UK, don’t purchase images that have been taken inside another restaurant from a stock site, as that is not representative of who and what you are.
If you can afford it though, a professional photographer could be the way to go.
Website Design Tips #11 – Intro and explainer videos
Similar to the above, videos are great to include on your website. They can be used to introduce your company, explain the benefits of a product or even show a particular service that you offer. The list goes on.
One interesting fact to consider is that YouTube has over a billion users, a third of all the internet traffic. This makes a really important point, video is big, very big and it’s predicted to keep growing.
People like video, it’s easier for your website visitors to consume your content.
Again, like photography, it needs to be professional and slick.
Keep them short, informative and as with most things they need to offer your audience value. If you can ask yourself “so what” after watching a video then you have missed the mark.
Website Design Tips #12 – Professional logo
Every business needs a logo, that goes without saying, however your logo needs to be professional and one that will easily help your audience remember it.
Your logo should be prominently displayed at the top of your website
We won’t talk about what makes a great logo, however if you have a website and don’t currently have one for your business then it’s time to invest in getting one designed.
Website Design Tips #13 – The design of your website
The way that your website looks is critical, the point worth mentioning here is that you shouldn’t just have your website designed how you like it. We know that sounds strange!
Ideally, you will have data on who your actual customers are or if you’re starting out you should try and do research into who is likely to buy your products and services.
A good method is to look at your website analytics, we would recommend using Google Analytics for this. It provides a host of amazing information that will help you understand your customers.
You should try and understand their typical age, sex, their likes, location plus a host of other information, it’s part of understanding who your clients are.
Why is this important?
It’s only by knowing this can you actually have your website designed in a way that appeals to its intended audience and not specifically based on what YOU like.
To use an example, let’s say a funeral directors, people looking at their website would not expect to see neon colours, lots of flashing icons and images of people laughing and smiling. It just wouldn’t suit its audience.
You would expect to see something more peaceful, reserved and respectful.
We appreciate that this is an obvious example, however it drives home the point, understand what makes your audience tick and design your website with them in mind.
Website Design Tips #14 – Clear value proposition
In essence, it’s a service, innovation or feature intended to make your company or service attractive to your customers. Or in other words why should someone want to buy from you?
Think of it this way, every business has competitors, if a potential customer looked at your website and your competitors, who should they choose?
A potential customer is more likely to decide on one over the other if they can see a certain value.
For example, your value proposition should strongly show how you can solve a problem, improve a situation or deliver a specific benefit.
A great place to have this is at the top of your website.
An example could be for a bed company, their value proposition could be “Try our mattress FREE for 100 days, if you don’t love it we’ll collect and refund you 100% – no quibble guarantee”
As you can see, if you had a potential customer in the market for a mattress and they were looking at two suppliers. Which do you think they would choose, the one with a strong value proposition or not?
Website Design Tips #15 – Benefit sales driven copy
This is a fairly simple one to offer advice on.
Whenever you create content for your website you need to always talk about how you can solve a problem or how you can bring a benefit to your customer.
It’s the oldest sales tactic in the world and your website should adopt it too.
Website Design Tips #16 – Strong headlines
Remember how we mentioned earlier that people sometimes like to ‘skim’ website text?
Headlines are a great way to quickly catch the eye of your website visitor and encourage them to read on.
Make them both short catchy and benefit driven.
Another benefit is that headlines can help your website’s SEO if done correctly.
The reason being is search engines see headlines as some of the most important aspects on a webpage, so they pay attention to them, it says to them, as it’s a headline it must be important.
Ensure that your headlines include the web pages keyword focus.
As an example, if you had an online Italian takeaway website, it would make sense if it had a headline on its pizza page of ‘Pizza delivery within 30 minutes or your money back’.
It tells search engines ‘this page is about pizza delivery’ and to a web visitor its something that would catch their eye as it’s a bold, a short statement. Not only that but it gives a big benefit and encourages them to buy.
Website Design Tips #17 – Offer incredible value for free in exchange for an email
Every website should always have methods to try and capture an email address from its visitors.
The reason behind it is pretty simple, as they are on your website, they are interested in what you have to offer.
By getting their email address you can send them regular emails with offers, updates and information to get them to come back to your site again.
A really important thing to note here!!! You MUST have direct permission from the intended recipient to allow you to send marketing emails to them, it’s part of GDPR.
But how do you get their email and permission?
You provide something of sensational value for free that they can’t resist in return for their email address.
It could be a money off voucher, a free guide, an eBook or a free product etc. If the offer is good enough to entice someone, they will gladly give you their email in return.
Make sure when you do, you have the appropriate opt ins/opt outs to cover yourself.
Website design Tips #18 – Newsletter opt-ins
Expanding on the above point, another way of capturing email addresses is to have some form of newsletter opt-in.
Now there are a few things to think about here.
Firstly, what information will you ask from them? It has been shown that the less information you ask a website visitor to fill in the more likely they will do that.
Try and keep the form as short as possible, even as short as just ‘first name’ and ‘email address’.
Secondly, will you use a double opt-in? A double opt-in is where a website visitor submits their details and then receives an automated email in return. They then have to click a link in that email to confirm that they actually did sign up.
This is good for two reasons, it means that you will only get qualified data in your lists and also that the person that signed up is the exact person with that email address. E.g. someone hasn’t signed someone else up.
A really good newsletter signup plugin is MailChimp and is free up to a point.
Website Design Tips #19 – Be easily contactable
One of the biggest gripes that many website visitors have is not being able to easily to get in contact with a company or find the information they want.
How many times have you searched and searched trying to find a helpline number only to give up 10 minutes later? It’s really frustrating!
On every website ensure you have the following:
Big phone number at the top of the website
Include social media icons and links
Make your contact forms ask for as little data as you need
Have a live chat facility, people don’t want to wait to get an answer if they have a simple question
Website Design Tips #20 – Contact forms
This is another really obvious one but probably not for the reason you think.
Contact forms are a great way of getting people to get in touch with you. However, some websites still include an email address as a way of communicating.
This isn’t a good thing as it allows for unscrupulous people and automated bots to farm your email addresses if displayed.
In no time at all your email address will be on lots lists and you’ll be receiving crazy amounts of spam.
Make sure your contact forms are really simple and easy to fill in.
Try and add a CAPTCHA to your contact form. This is a security mesaure that ask for a human to enter a response such as picking a correct number of images featuring traffic lights for instance or to decipher a scrambled word image.
Again, this is to avoid automated bots or programs sending you spam emails, only emails from humans can use the form.
These twenty tips have hopefully helped you take a look at your current website to see if anything is missing or could be improved upon.
There are many other useful tips which we will cover in a later post.
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