This video is just a preview of the interview. To listen to the entire podcast, click the Play button underneath the article’s title.
Main ideas from the podcast:
- Web design guidelines to know before designing your website
- ‘What’s in it for me?’ – your website must answer questions
- Designing Calls to Action that work
- Design is the pretty stuff
- 3 key web design guidelines that make a really good website
Today’s podcast guest is Dan Procter:
- Owner and founder of Simply
- Expert in web design and websites
- Calls himself a “non-techie”, but is an expert in web design guidelines that work
- has a simple, common sense, and conversion-focused approach towards building a successful website and a total web strategy
This process starts with understanding your user. “No one cares when you say how good you are and how perfect”, explains Dan in the interview. “When someone gets to the website, they need a problem solved”.
Web design guidelines to know before designing your website
So Dan and I suggested two steps that are essential to go through before launching your website:
Step 1: Research your users and understand them deeply before you go anywhere near design. A lot of design businesses still use templates and modify them without thinking about the website as a tool: they deisgn what they like and what the client likes rather than working with the question in mind: “What is the prospect looking for? What do they need?”.
Understand a user’s fears, doubts, uncertainties about you as a company. Understand where they are in the buying cycle: information-gathering stage or ready-to-buy stage?
According to this information you can create different calls to action.
Step 2: Test your theories. You may think that something works because… well, you think it does. But that is no guarantee that your theories will actually bring you the expected results. Once those are tested, you can move to design.
Web design guidelines: What’s in it for ME?
Again, people are not interested in YOU as a company, but in YOU as a means of solving their problems: How can you help me? How can you solve my fears and frustrations? What’s in it for me?
You can answer their questions on your website, through:
- A well defined, well targeted value proposition
- Building trust
- Making a great first impression
Attention! The value proposition is a classic mistake: sometimes it is so far down the page that a visitor needs to scroll down to see it. It is ignored, under the fold, invisible.
Have the value proposition right at the top of your website, accompanied by a big visual element, a big attention-grabbing headline, and a call to action.
Web design guidelines: Calls to Action
The number of websites that don’t have any type of call to action or poor calls to action is impressive. The CTA is imperative, but you also need to make it a good CTA so people will take the desired action.
Here are some tips on how to write and design a proper call to action:
- Tell the people what action you want them to take, and when (now, today)
- Tell them what will happen when they take the desired action
- Give them some security: no obligation, comfortable access, quick response, etc.
Web design guidelines: design is the pretty stuff
As Dan puts it during the podcast interview, “design is the brand, the first impression. It is really important, but it comes after answering the users’ questions”.
Once you have the user-friendly sketch of the website, you have to test it and see if it works. Search for elements that cause confusion and eliminate or improve them. A confused buyer will leave.
When you have the design ready, test it again and then take it live. The important thing now is that the website is not a ‘set and forget’ thing.
First, monitor the results: are people taking the action you want them to take?
Design is a lot more of a science than it used to be; it’s science and maths before art.
But the good thing about this process is that it is not guess work. these days, your users almost decide your brand. This is visible in the data you can collect on your website.
What are the key web design guidelines that make a really good website?
- Great design
- Great content
- Making it easy to do business with you
1. Great design
The website still needs to look good and create a great first impression. Clarity is the key to design. Confusion is most often created by design and content.
2. Great content
The content does the selling. Content uses psychology to motivate people to take action.
There are two main types of content:
- Sales content: It is used for key-service pages (About Us, Services, Products, in the value proposition on the Home Page); sales content uses conversion copy and direct response copy. It needs to be done by someone who understands sales copy, which is a different skill from someone who writes educational copy.
- Educational content: It is used on the blog, in blog articles, in infographics; its main purpose is to build trust and credibility.
3. Making it easy to do business with you
You need to be reachable on all devices: PCs, smartphones, tablets, laptops. This is why it is imperative now to have a mobile website or a responsive web design.
Actually, not having a mobile website can affect your rankings for desktop search results. And if you run paid ads on Facebook, for example, you may notice that people click on ads from their mobile phones more than they do it from their PCs.
It is also very important to have a contact form on your website, allowing people to contact you any time of day and night. Again, have clear calls to action that are easy to find on the page.
As you can see, there is a lot of research involved before you start talking about graphic design.
In short, you need to understand that your website is not a brochure. It should be a profit-generating tool that is going to give you good ROI (return on investment). What a lot of people are trying to do is save money upfront, but this doesn’t build a profit in future months/years.
If you cut corners at the beginning, your conversion rates are going to be low. And low conversion rates mean low profits.
Get in touch with Dan on his website, simply.com.au.
In the next podcast with Dan we will leverage off this conversation and talk about the other side of what is going to make the site convert:
- optimisation for SEO
- activities you can do to drive traffic and leads
Until then, here are my questions for you…
- Does your website answer your visitors’ questions in the “Above the fold” section?
- Why did you go with a custom web design for your website / a web design template?
- Is your website responsive / mobile? How does that influence your business & your income?
See you in the Comments section!