12 Top Tips to Designing an Effective Website
Strong Branding, Intuitive Design, Engaging Content and User-Friendly Functionality to Generate Leads
First impressions are everything. And although you have heard these words a million times before, they certainly ring true when talking about effective web design and development.
In today’s day and age, first impressions are hardly made by person-to-person interactions anymore. Chances are, before a potential client meets with you in person to talk business, they have already checked out your company online. As a result, your website is making the first impression for you, and as a business owner you must make certain it is making a good one.
Even if you currently have a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing website that is a few years old, the latest design trends and technology could be leaving you behind. The quickly changing landscape of web design means businesses need to keep up with the latest trends to make that crucially important positive first impression, satisfy user expectations and most importantly, drive revenue.
Here are our top 12 recommendations for creating a great and effective website:
1. Start with a Strong Brand
Having a strong brand presence is not restricted to just your website, but to your whole company’s image. As mentioned earlier, your website may be the first time someone sees your business, so it needs to stand out and the company logo needs to be memorable, separate you from your competitors, and make sense for your audience.
If your company’s brand is outdated, cluttered, does not really make sense for what your company is offering, or does not speak to your target audience, it can put customers off and it will affect your websites lead conversions. If you are looking at creating a new company website or revamping an existing site, make sure your branding is strong. If its not perfect, now is good time to start a rebranding process and create the ultimate brand experience for your business.
2. Intuitive Website Design
Your website has about 2 seconds to attract and hold your audience’s attention before they decide to hit the back button. Make sure the website visitor can see right away what your company is about and give them a reason to stick around with great intuitive web design.
Make your homepage and all your landing pages visually appealing starting with a strong brand presence, strong headings, visuals that use amazing photos, graphics, icons, and videos.
The website design layout should have lots of white space which gives your content and imagery room to breath and standout so your website visitor can easily read and understand your company’s offering.
Pay attention to the visual contrast between text and background. The fonts you choose for your website should be a legible and should be a good size to ensure it meets AODA compliance laws so everyone can read and understand what your business offers. If a user cannot read your content, it will not take long for them to give up and move on. The easier your website is to use; the more people use it.
3. Write Engaging Content
When writing content for your website, always use conversational English and don’t get too technical or use acronyms. Be concise and compose easy to understand relevant product/service information. Always break up different ideas into different paragraphs with headings. Avoid long blocks of text as it can be intimidating to your reader. Always write in a clear and concise style. Leave out the hype or boastful text, stick to the facts and keep it simple.
Transparency is extremely important to build trust so you should always include trust building content on your website such as information about your company’s goals, history, your process, and your team. You can also include information about your memberships, vendors, and associations. Another wonderful way to get your site visitors to trust you, is to include photos or samples of your work, compose case studies or white papers which provides more details about what your business does.
Finally, make sure to always include relevant keywords with strong headings and subheadings for search engine optimization. Using keywords tells search engines like Google or Bing about the content of your website so that your web pages can get ranked and found by your target audience.
4. Reviews & Guarantees, the Trust Factor
If you have customer reviews about your products or services, make sure to add them to your website. Studies have shown, reviews help users in their decision-making process and will influence their purchase decision. Consumer reviews are more trusted than product descriptions. Another bonus is that product reviews help with search engine optimization due to the variety of keywords that are used. So make sure to highlight your glowing client reviews on your company website to build credibility and trust with your prospective clients.
Another way to build trust with current or prospective customers is to include a page showing your warranties and guarantees of service to demonstrate that you proudly stand by your products and services.
5. Easy Navigation
Your users should not feel like they are making their way through a labyrinth. Your new website design should allow users to easily navigate your site to find what they are looking for. You worked hard to get someone to the site, you certainly do not want them to get frustrated and leave right away. Easy navigation will avoid user frustration and keep visitors on your website longer.
When designing a new effective website, its crucial to organize the web pages so it flows naturally using logically named categories and standard terms for your navigation page titles. If your website has multiple pages, the site will require dropdown menus that shows the pages within its respective main navigation category. The sub pages must be placed in the right order so that it provides all the information the consumer is searching for in a logical way to make their decision. Consider setting up the web pages and content so it follows your company’s sale funnel process. Your website design goals are about building awareness for your company’s products and services and getting the user to act by contacting your business, buying the product or filling out an online form.
To make the website design even more user-friendly consider making the top navigation sticky so that as your audience scrolls downward, and the navigation header with the page titles are still shown at the top so the person can easily navigate to other pages.
Another tip is to add breadcrumbs to your website which also improves the user experience by making navigating easier. Breadcrumbs encourage users to visit more pages before they exit improving the bounce rate. They are also SEO friendly, apparently Google uses breadcrumbs for crawling websites!
If your website is ecommerce and has several product categories and hundreds or thousands of products available for sale, consider creating a mega menu and include a filter system by category, brand name, pricing or by alphabetical order so its easy to navigate and find products for a better shopping experience and allow for more online sales.
6. Add Micro-Animation & Transitions
Another fantastic way to improve the user experience of your website which lead to higher conversions, is to add micro-animation throughout the website. Having movement or seeing a link, photo, button, or icon change colour when a user mouses over it helps the site visitor understand how to navigate your website. User-initiated micro-animation also include swiping, scrolling, clicking a button which takes you to another web page or tapping navigation and a dropdown menu pulls down. Micro-animation helps the users interact with your website. You can also ask your website developer to add movement to the headings and short descriptors, so the content grabs the user’s attention and moves as you scroll.
7. Consider Adding a Video to Your Site
Create eye-catching content that appeals to the senses of your readers. Video, images, infographics, gifs, and other types of media are engaging for users and ideal for search engines! Videos can be a powerful communicator. Video allows for a positive user experience because you can explain complicated concepts or processes, connect with the emotions of your customer, or share intriguing ideas. Video can also help your business rank high with search engines. Because it is an engaging medium, users will spend more time on your site (dwell time) causing Google to consider your video valuable and your site to be trustworthy. And chances are the user will dig deeper on your site if the video was effective. In addition, videos can easily be shared on your social channels as well.
Before you start adding videos to your website design, make sure that you upload your videos on a third-party service or content delivery network, such as YouTube or Vimeo. Videos should never be uploaded directly onto your website as it will take up a lot of storage space and bandwidth which will slow down your site speed which will create a bad experience for your website visitors, and this could also negatively affect your site rankings.
8. Include Call to Action and Online forms
When it comes to website design, give users a reason to be there. Engage them by including a call to action on all of your web pages. Every good business website includes buttons that lets readers “Learn more,” “Download Now,” “Buy Now” or “Request a Quote.” You may even want call to action sentences or buttons at the end of each blog post to increase your chances of connecting.
Every great website design should also include online forms for lead generation or for online job applicants. Its another user-friendly way for website visitors to contact you any time of the day and to send information, such as requesting a quote for your services or catalogue request or to place an order. Website forms allow you to collect information easily and efficiently. When an online form is submitted, make sure to include a Thank you page or send an auto email response to the user, confirming the form was received and that you will be contacting them within a certain period. Make sure you respond to these new leads or applicants within a business day, or you could lose that potential sale or loose a great applicant! As we mentioned earlier, you worked hard to get visitors to your website, so give them a reason to stick around and be motivated to connect with you.
9. Search Engine Optimization
As mentioned several times in this article, when it comes to building a great website, it needs to be search engine friendly. If Google cannot find and rank your site, no one will find you. We recommend working with an experienced web development agency that has a full team that understands search engine optimization and stays up to date with this rapidly changing industry. What was true yesterday, may not be true today.
Your website needs to work for you and successfully compete for online traffic. If it is designed with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind, you will be miles ahead of your competition. In the same way that businesses compete in the real-world market, whoever has the attention-grabbing marketing is going to win. Using SEO best practices in your website development will give you that much needed head start to take the lead.
Here are 5 things you can do to your website to boost your SEO.
- Image filenames should include descriptive and informative text.
- Write engaging content and videos that keeps the reader on your site (dwell time) and reduces bounced rate.
- Add internal and external links to your web content to enhance the user experience, improves engagement, and conversion.
- Decrease load time by using smaller compressed image files (no one wants to wait for your images to load and that can hurt your Google ranking).
- Images should include alternative text and videos should include a transcript. Not only does this comply with AODA and assist visually impaired users using a screen reader, it also helps your image rank with search engines.
If you think we have mentioned SEO quite a bit, we have. And if you are thinking it must be important, it is! Our ZOO Media Group team has the experience and expertise to help your website rise to the top of the search rankings and ensure it stays visible. We offer a full suite of digital marketing services.
10. Blog & Publish Engaging Content Regularly
Another awesome tip for building a great website is to add new content on a regular basis to your site which is important for search engine optimization (SEO). We mention SEO yet again! Not only that, but adding engaging content such as news, case studies or blog posts is a great way to share information about your products or services and discuss thoughts on certain topics that are relevant in your industry that your customers care about. Having a place on your website where you can post great content regularly gives your company a voice and provides the opportunity to share your expertise to build your credibility.
Make sure you include social sharing functionality on your website. This includes adding a “Share” button to encourage sharing of your website content to other social media networks.
Blogging can help generate leads by reaching a larger audience and if you make sure to also write with SEO in mind by adding keywords, it also helps with website rankings too.
11. Social Media Marketing
Social media has become a huge part of brand marketing and consumer engagement. So you will want to make sure your new website design shines a spotlight on your social media networks. Convenient icons that link to your Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and Twitter pages should have a prominent place on your website. This is an easy way to encourage further dialogue and connection with your prospective customers.
Social media allows for a great deal of interaction and visibility with a large audience. You can build relationships, share your expertise, build your brand image and you can use their paid advertising services and drive more traffic to your website.
As previously mentioned, if you have a regular blog or news page, consider including social sharing functionality such as a “share” button so readers can easily share with their social network.
Another great way to drive more traffic to your website is by syndicating your site content, such as news, blog articles or highlighting customer reviews, to your social media networks. Really, it is a cycle that just keeps picking up speed – if you keep adding and sharing good SEO engaging content, the crowds will keep coming.
12. Design a Responsive Website
Having a responsive website is one of the most important aspects of web design today. In a world where first impressions are made within the first few seconds of interacting with your company’s website, a responsive site can make all the difference.
You do not want your users to experience an awkward layout that is difficult to read and navigate. They would never be back. It is not just phones and tablets that you need to consider, but also laptops and desktops with a variety of sizes & dimensions. A responsive website adapts to screens of all sizes – both big and small. As such, responsive design enables website developers to effectively present a layout for all devices.
It is also important to note that responsive websites are SEO-friendly too! Websites that adjust for mobile are ranked higher in search results. The fact that mobile internet usage is now at 60% globally, is proof why this it is extremely important for all websites to be fully responsive for all device sizes.
If your current website is not designed for easy mobile viewing, drop what you are doing and give us a call. Your customers use a wide range of devices to access the web and place online orders. Responsive website design practices ensure a seamless and consistent user experience regardless of what kind of device is being used to access it.
At ZOO Media Group, it’s our job and our passion to know what website designs are trending and what is working best and serving our clients’ unique needs. Our talented writers, web designers and development team have the technical skills and eye for design to make your website a great, effective and engaging tool for your business. We will guide you through the process and make choices that make sense for your company and your goals. We will design a website that is attention-grabbing and gives your business a wow factor, adds trust and helps grow your business.
Show visitors you are an active and important presence online with top notch SEO, clean website coding, and outstanding website design. Contact London, Ontario’s top web design and development agency today to get your website working harder for you!