12 Tips for Improving Your Web Design
The overarching goal of your website is to engage more visitors with your business. It is vital to have a reliable website that positions your company as a strong, professional organization that solves problems for customers. If you find your website failing to reach objectives of traffic or conversions, it may be time for a makeover, or at the very least, a refresh. We’re firm believers in experimentation — we run split tests on landing pages regularly (secret sauce, sorta), and we’re always looking for ways to help our customers get more out of the websites and web applications. So if you’re interested in sprucing up your website, here are ten tips for improving your web design.
1. Make a Plan
Before you start, make a tentative roadmap for what you want to do. Set your goals, write them down, and discuss the process ahead. Hash out your plan and define accountability for your process. The work will include everything from market research, graphic design, copywriting, technical design, programming, testing, and deployment. Something we always tell customers is that search engine optimization, a key driver of traffic, is not fairy dust you sprinkle over a website after the fact. Thus, you may want to learn a bit about modern SEO before you even start. For example, customers say the darndest things – like wonderful keywords that you can bake into your copywriting…
2. Know Your Customer
Your customers help you succeed, and chances are good that you have some key customers who really help (the top 20% typically drives 80% of your revenue…). To attract more desirable customers, we recommend modeling personas from your best clients. Check out our Persona Template for ideas on how to build them and what you should be thinking about. In addition, look for glowing comments from these key customers. As noted in SEO planning, the language your customers use about you is helpful in attracting more customers like them.
3. Develop Some Offers
Next, a tactic to strongly consider in your website planning is developing offers for new prospects. Is there a way to entice someone to check you out beyond reading your website? Can you give away some content — a video, strategic guide, tip sheet, or case study — that adds to your credibility? Is there a way to provide a free test drive, limited time trial or a sample? The goal here is to create a simple ‘first step’ in your sales process, because it’s rare for someone to buy blindly anymore. Visitors respond to giveaways or helpful information. THEN you can build on a simple foothold relationship to develop a prospect into a customer (also known as the customer journey).
4. Keep It Simple
As you prepare information for your website, keep it simple. You want to focus on one idea per page, with simple language driving the copywriting process. As a technical services provider, yes, we have to use technical language, but we try to simplify structure and minimize jargon (except as needed for SEO and purchasing geeks!). One technical tip is to avoid those image sliders and carousels. Research has shown they simply don’t work — if there’s text included, users may miss key messages since they scroll down fast. Another benefit of simplicity is speed (more on that later).
5. Social Proof FTW
Odds are that you read reviews when you are considering a purchase. Even better odds are that if a friend or colleague recommends a product, you enter your research with some bias. The same applies in online marketing. If you see a recognizable logo (Wow! They work with Apple!) or an industry badge (Cool! They are an Amazon Partner!), you may feel more comfortable digging in further. If you read a favorable review (They average 4.9 stars!) or see a solid customer testimonial written in compelling language, you probably keep reading. All these things — reviews, testimonials, badges — are social proof. That is, they are evidence from someone besides you that you are capable of solving customer problems. And it works. A recent Nielsen study found that 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
6. Think MOBILE
It should not be a surprise that mobile traffic continues to increase, surpassing the halfway mark a couple of years ago. In April 2020, global traffic market share broke down as follows:
(source: Statcounter Global Stats)
When you design your next website, think mobile first. Make sure your website displays properly (“responsive”) on many devices to ensure a solid customer experience. Note, if you don’t believe these general statistics apply to you, you can double check your own visitor stats in Google Analytics.
First impressions last… A well-designed website with attractive images can score points with your audience. Original graphics are better than stock, if you can, so bear that in mind. If you use stock photography or illustrations, choose higher quality and less-used. That is, if you’ve seen that smiling customer service photo on another website, pick something else! Consider affordable design services like Design Pickle (https://designpickle.com) or a local, aspiring designer.
8. (Slow) Speed Kills
We wrote about the advantages of a fast-responding website previously (check it out). To recap, the key things to review are your current hosting provider, your individual page speeds, and the use of tools to cache pages. Faster page loading means more eyeballs on your content, and conversely, slow pages mean lost visitors.
9. Take a Holistic View of SEO
Search engines are (normally) the cheapest providers of traffic. Maximizing your investment in SEO upfront ensures a long-term success. We’ll write more about SEO in the future, but for now, make sure you’re not making the biggest SEO mistakes (https://www.semrush.com/blog/biggest-seo-mistakes).
10. Test. Then Test. Then Test Again.
Check spelling. Verify links work. Ensure your site is secure. Have friends & staff click through pages. Fill out every form and look at results. Track page loading time. Test like a fiend. Test again. Fix any problems, and then test some more. In short, bugs kill your online reputation. A typo may earn an eye roll from a visitor. A broken link hurts your page rank in Google. A broken submission form leaves potential business at the 2 yard line. A working website is critical.
When you build your plan, you need to include a plan for success metrics. What are you trying to achieve? More traffic, more reviews, more sales, more engagement, more form completions? What’s the score before and after your update? Plan to measure and adapt. At least on a monthly basis, more if your site is busy, look at your metrics.
Finally, you can not — CANNOT — set it and forget it. Add content. Change offers. Experiment with pages. Update images. Google keeps an eye on your website, and so do customers. If your last blog post is the week of your site launch, and it’s two years later, people notice. Google rewards you for updating, and penalizes you for cobwebs…
Improving Your Web Design
If you want to grow your business (and who doesn’t), your website can have a direct impact on the market’s perception of you. Before you take off on your next remodel or replacement, plan out your overall marketing approach. Know who your customer is, what they respond to, what problems you can help them solve. Craft offers and copy that address your research. Make your website fast, beautiful, simple, and mobile-friendly. Then test, adapt, and repeat. All these tips for improving your web design are proven in countless success stories around the globe. Now…it’s your turn.