When it comes to website design, it’s not really a one size fits all. What works for one industry doesn’t necessarily work for another. An ecommerce business, for example, will have a focus on their product with the home page displaying more like a shop front window with less written content. While a service based business will have a stronger focus on service offerings with higher written content.
But while they are different business types, there are key elements of the website design that will stay the same. These are the tried and tested elements that lead to higher conversions and increased user experience.
Think of it like this. You’re a size 12 in dresses and you fit into any size 12 dress you try on. Whilst dresses all have a consistent base in that they have a skirt of some sort and bodice that covers from top to bottom (literally) elements like the colour, cut and style will differ. It’s these unique elements of the dress that determine whether it’s a good fit for you or not. Those unique elements, like a tapered waste, sleeves, colour etc. determine whether you have a good experience trying on that dress, or a bad one. If you have a bad experience or the dress isn’t a good fit, you won’t buy it.
Web design is similar. The base elements should always the same, but the style, colour and layout of a website may change to fit your business, and in turn, your target audience.
So let’s talk about some of those key foundational web design elements that ensure you have a good website design that will convert those leads and sales.
1. Call To Actions
Firstly, I’ll start by quickly explaining what a ‘call to action’ is in relation to a website. Call to actions are the actions you want your customer to take while on your website. These are the buttons and links that are placed on a web page that encourages a person to take a specific action. A call to action could be “Call Us For An Appointment” or “Shop Now”. They are key to generating leads, boosting sales and keeping people on your site longer.
Before you start designing a web page, you should think about what action you would like your visitor to take while on that page. Once you’ve determined where you’d like them to go next, you can design your page to naturally include that. For example, an ecommerce store might have an end of financial year clearance sale to clear old stock. On their home page above the fold (the part people see first before they scroll) they might have a banner advertising their EOFY sale with a call to action to “SHOP NOW”. This instantly draws the visitor into their shop, but more specifically, their clearance section where they can lure impulse buys, generate sales and clear their old stock. It’s a win for everyone.
A service based business may have a business plan where they would like to encourage discovery calls and leads to find their next customer. This is done by creating call to actions that lead people to make contact so they can begin the sales process in person. In this instance, a call to action saying “Book Your Free 15 Minute Discovery Call” or “Book A Chat” would be the best fit.
Without clear call to actions on your website, people will not know where to go or what you want them to do next.
2. Don’t complicate your page
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and feel the need to add everything you know, or every product or service, onto one page because they’re all so awesome. But all this does is cause confusion and disorientate your customer, which could lead them to leave.
Following on from the first point, ask yourself what action do you want your customer to take and focus on that only. By having one focus on your page, you’ll find it easier to target keywords and phrases and you’ll ensure your page is targeted.
An example of this might be service offerings. You might have 4 key services that you offer in your business. I see a lot of websites where these 4 services are all listed on the one page with all the info for each service under a heading. While this keeps all your information in one place, it overwhelms your visitor because you end up with a big, long page of text. And what if the service that visitor wanted was at the bottom? Are they scrolling that long to find it?
In order to fix this, a solution might be to have a summary of services on your primary services page with links (call to actions) to take the visitor to the page relevant to the particular service they are interested in. On this page, you will have a single targeted topic relating solely to that service, where you can then sell your service.
What this does is keeps visitors on your site longer, reducing bounce rates and improving user experience (UX) and your SEO whilst increasing your lead generations or sales.
In short, don’t have pages with huge, long blobs of text. All this does is create an endless scroll that no one ends up reading – especially on mobile view.
3. Less is more – sort of.
Following on from point 2 of not over-complicating your page, there is also the mistake of simplifying your page too much. I see pages with little to no written copy at all and lots of pretty images but no substance.
Now, your product might sell itself because it’s super obvious what it is. But even if that’s the case, there will still be potential customers who don’t know what it is, or need more convincing. If for nothing else, do it for your SEO.
For SEO, pages should have a minimum of 300 words in written content. Now, this doesn’t have to be in one big blob, and I would strongly encourage it isn’t for reasons outlined in point 2. But a minimum of 300 words gives Google enough information to read and it gives your customer a little bit more insight into you, your business and your offerings.
Even if you’re a product based business selling boxes of nappies that everyone knows what they are and who they’re for, you still need to have written copy for Google. Take a look at a big site like Target. Everyone knows them and knows what they sell, but at the bottom of each page, even their product pages, they have written copy to target keywords and phrases for SEO. Their page has clear call to actions and internal links to lead customers to other areas and products on their site.
4. Internal Links
Another big tick for SEO is internal links. Internal links lead your visitor to another page on your site, linking one page to another and therefore keeping your visitor on your site longer. Internal links can be used as hyperlinks in text (like I have done in this blog) or via a call to action button to a page like your contact us page. An internal link is a link that keeps the visitor on the same domain or website.
Internal links also help Google link and correlate your content and pages to each other. It gives pages a hierarchy and multiple avenues for someone to get to the same destination.
You can use internal links in any business and on any website, but it’s something that is quite often missed. Don’t be scared to reference other pages on your site where you can, but don’t over do it. You still want people to read the page they are on!
Note: External links (or Outbound links) are links that direct people off your site – like I did with the Target example above. Whilst the plugin SEO Yoast encourages this as part of it’s red light/green light process, it’s not something I do often. Ideally, you want to be keeping people on your site, not sending them away. If you do need to insert an external link, then make sure it opens in a new tab so your visitor doesn’t lose your site.
5. Break it up
One last point I want to touch on in this topic is your content. Don’t be scared to break it up and create visual interest. This can be created using ‘white space’ which is basically just spreading your content out a little more so it’s visually pleasing to the eye and easier to read. i.e. spaces between paragraphs. You could also use images, a coloured background to make a specific piece of information pop or simply add key headings to break up text.
Large blobs of text isn’t often read unless the person is 100% engaged. A bit like a blog! Blogs are often long pieces of text because the person is genuinely interested in reading about the topic. However, you will notice that the text is broken up by sub heading. On your website, creating visual appeal attracts the eye to new areas of the page. Breaking up your content with headings to encourage more parts of your text to be read is essential in good design. Call to actions can also act as a ‘breaker’, especially if styled as an attractive button to stand out.
Web design is complex in that there are many elements to consider, but making sure you have the key foundational web design elements in place will make it easier to get to your goal.