If you had just 10 seconds to tell someone what your company does, could you? If you knew in advance that you would have just 10 seconds, imagine the time and research you would put into finding the exact sentence to share about your business and what makes you the right choice.
Well here’s the bad news, that’s about how much time you have to tell your story when someone clicks on your website.
Actually, it’s probably more like six seconds. The good news is your website design, visuals and an engaging color scheme can serve as the backdrop for your pitch. But, back to the first click… Your attention-grabbing sentence should do just that: grab your viewer’s attention. The rest of your website should provide an ideal customer experience and properly represent your brand. Does your website pass the design test? Take a look at 11 essential website design tips and see how you measure up.
Design your homepage with your ideal customer in mind.
Many businesses will segment the target audience to support different products and services, and messaging. They reach out to these various segments through dedicated landing pages. However, the website homepage should speak to your ideal customer. Your website is a huge part of the customer experience. The goal of the homepage is to have the audience think “Ah ha!”, not “What the?”
Homepage essentials include the following:
1. Highlight your expertise and value to communicate that your business is the right choice. This can be done through customer testimonials, customer reviews, endorsements and badges. In addition, include copy that emphasizes the loss of not using your product or service.
2. Focus on simplicity. Keep your sentences short and engaging. Answer the most important questions about your business and use the design to help viewers easily navigate to supportive information.
3. Implement a list-building strategy. List-building is the number one strategy for growing your business. Find the best strategy for your industry and implement it on your homepage, as well as strategically throughout the site.
4. Integrate social media channels with your homepage. This goes for every page and certainly your blog, but include the opportunity for social sharing on your homepage. (As your audience grows, consider including a widget that shares the size of your following.)
5. Don’t forget about search engine optimization. While your primary focus is the customer experience, the text on your homepage should be strategically optimized with relevant industry keywords. A key tactic that will help keep your homepage content current and optimized, and highlight your following, is to feature your latest blog posts or articles.
Treat every page as a landing page.
Most of your visitors will arrive to your website through a page other than your homepage. Because of this, it is important to include key information on every page.
6. Tell your 10-second story through a tagline on each page.
7. Design using an above-the-fold focus and put important contact information, calls-to-action, and social sharing options at the top of the page.
8. Less is more. Keep your content clear and concise. For more complex content, add downloads.
Test your website design.
Even if you use a professional designer, use A/B testing to ensure the design resonates with your target audience. The slightest change to a color can improve the overall customer experience. Effective web designers will stay on top of design trends, and be able to provide you with quality recommendations, but the research you’ve done to get to know your target audience is extremely valuable.
9. Choose a responsive design that adapts to all devices. Test the design among devices.
10. Test your design through focus groups.
11. Conduct regular performance reviews of your website using tools like Google Analytics to ensure your content is converting visitors to customers.
Here are additional articles to help with website design:
Influencer and designer Andy Crestodina shares the science behind design in: http://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/web-design-tips
CIO offers 13 tips for improving your website design in: http://www.cio.com/article/734408/13_Simple_Tips_for_Improving_Your_Web_Design
A top 10 guide for homepage usability: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/top-ten-guidelines-for-homepage-usability/