Roughly 90% of purchasing experiences start online these days, and it’s never been more important to nail your website design. The right website can help your company establish instant credibility, and a well-designed website can convert visitors into customers easier than you’ve ever imagined. The wrong website, however, can actually sink your business.
If visitors aren’t interacting with your site, you’ll be punished by the search engines and lose major ground to your competitors.
To make matters even more complex, there’s a lot that goes into designing a successful website. If you ask five professional designers what every website needs, you’re likely to get five different answers. With that said, certain principles are more reliable than others. Even though everybody has an opinion, it’s always best to go with what’s been proven to work. Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on subjective opinions to craft your perfect website. In our experience, the following ten factors are all but guaranteed to help make your website a winner:
Free Tip #1: Make Your Site As Fast Possible
When it comes to website design, speed is almost everything. Users are more likely to leave your site if they aren’t able to load your landing page quickly, and you need to have a faster site than all of your competitors. A lot of designers get caught up in fancy graphics, but it’s the speed that makes the difference. Google rewards websites that are fast and responsive by putting them at the top of their search results, and having a fast website can also get you a better price on digital advertising.
Think of your website like a barrel with a hole on the bottom, and think of your visitors like drops of water. When a drop of water reaches the bottom of the barrel, then that means you’ve converted a visitor into a new customer. If there are any holes in the bucket, however, then drops of water are going to leak out of the sides of the bucket before they can reach the bottom. You want to plug every hole that you can, and having a slow website is one of the biggest holes that we see.
Free Tip #2: Grab Your Visitor’s Attention Right Away
Designing a great website is all about understanding what your visitor will see when they hit your landing page. We see way too many sites that try to get cute, but the most straightforward designs work best.
It’s crucial to remember that your visitors are likely surfing the internet for hours per day. Since they come across tons of websites, it’s essential to differentiate yourself.
You always want to hit your visitor with an eye-catching headline that they can immediately see.
There’s no sense in saving your best stuff for last here because you simply don’t have the time. Website visitors make decisions on your company within the first few seconds of visiting your site. Every page of your website should have a headline that is clearly visible at the top of the page, and a visitor should never have to scroll down to figure out what your page is about.
Free Tip #3: Simply Your Visitor’s Options
A confused mind never buys, and the last thing you want to do is make your visitors so overwhelmed with choices that they click the “Back” button. Consumer psychologists have known for a long time that the most effective way to get people to make a decision is by giving them fewer choices, not more.
When Henry Ford democratized the automobile, for example, there was a reason that he only manufactured the Ford Model T in one color.
Your website needs to lead your visitors down a pre-defined path, and this path should never have more than two choices at any given point. For example, you want each page to have a single call to action. Here are some additional ways to simplify your visitor’s options:
- If you need to use a form to collect information, then don’t ever ask for more information than you absolutely need.
- Every word on the page should serve a purpose.
- The menus on your website should have as few items to choose from as possible. Never introduce an unnecessary option. It will only confuse your visitor.
Free Tip #4: Focus On One Objective Per Page
Every page on your website works in harmony with one another. That doesn’t mean, however, that a given page should try to do multiple things at the same time. If you want people to sign up for your newsletter, for example, then you need a page that has this as its only goal. Having one objective per page helps you focus your message and keep your visitors focused.
Free Tip #5: Make Your Website Easy To Scroll
More users than ever are coming to your site from a mobile device these days, and they don’t want to spend time clicking a bunch of buttons to find what they’re looking for. You want to make sure that it’s easy for a visitor to scroll through the information on your website, and you want to present your most valuable content as you possibly can.
Even if you have a lot of information to share, you can keep your visitor’s attention by presenting the information vertically and guiding them down the page. Desktop users might like to click links, but mobile users are much more likely to stay on your site if they can just keep scrolling.
Free Tip #6: Forget About Using Fancy Gadgets Like Sliders and Accordions
You might think that visually interactive tools like sliders, accordions, and carousels would make your website stand out, but the data suggests otherwise.
When the team behind Notre Dame’s website decided to do a study on this and publish their results online, they noticed that nine out of every ten users didn’t even bother to use the image carousel they had placed on their site. Furthermore, the first image in their carousel received over twenty times the amount of attention than the other four images combined.
If you’re running an online storefront, carousels and sliders might have a place. If you’re designing any other type of website, however, we suggest that you stay away. These bells and whistles can not only be distracting, but they also slow down your site.
Free Tip #7: Use Effective Imagery
Interestingly enough, it’s possible to direct a user’s attention to exactly where you want them to look. How do you do it?
The answer is to use images of people that are looking at the part of the site that you want to direct your user to. For example, if you want to direct your visitor’s attention to a discount that you are running, then it pays to use an image of a person that is looking at the discount code. When human beings see another person looking in a certain direction, they naturally tend to follow.
You can also use this trick in reverse.
If you want people to read a big block of text, for example, then you can feature an image of a person that is looking straight at the screen. When your visitor is looking at a person who is staring right back at them, they will naturally gravitate towards the largest text.
We’ve also found that you can use arrows to substitute for images of people, but all of our tests indicate that using a person who resembles your audience will produce the best results.
This observation brings us to our next tip.
Free Tip #8: Anybody Who Is Featured On Your Website Should Resemble Your Target Audience
You always want to match any images of people on your website to your target demographics. If your target audience is female, for example, then you will want to use pictures of women on your site.
Don’t get fancy and try to break this rule. We all bear an emotional connection to people that look just like us, and you won’t have better results by trying to guess who your audience wants to see. Even though we’ve tested it over and over, this rule never fails.
Your visitors are naturally skeptical, and you need to nip their skepticism in the bud before they turn away.
Every claim that you make on your site should be immediately backed up by testimonials, social proof, or other incontrovertible evidence that they can trust you.
Forget about using anonymous testimonials, and consider using video testimonials from some of your favorite customers instead. It’s nice to have a lot of followers on Facebook or Instagram, but everybody knows that those might not be real. Make sure that your visitors see real people, preferably just like them, endorsing your business in ways that they know are authentic.
Free Tip #10: Play Around With The Sequence Of Your Copy
It’s often a simple shift of position that can turn a losing website into a winner. Never assume that a visitor will scroll down to the bottom of your site, and always lead the visitor along with proper timing. You don’t want to have a headline that’s followed by something which has nothing to do with the first words your visitor sees.
If your website has an application form of any kind, then test the order of the questions. You might be surprised at what kind of difference this can make, and asking questions in the right order can help cement your credibility.
This can be as simple as waiting until the end to ask for somebody’s email address, or it can be as complex as running randomized testing on application with multiple questions.
When it comes to designing a killer website, the ten tips listed above will put you ahead of the game. Giving your visitors an unforgettable experience requires patience and attention to detail, but investing the time it takes to test and tweak your website can uncover hidden sources of revenue for your business.
Thanks for reading "The Best 10 Free Website Design Tips We Can Give You", by the Linchpin Team in Chicago, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.