I recently read an article that listed what they called 8 effective habits for web design.
The article listed some great points. I wanted to pick out just a few of them and share them with you as these are too frequently abused by many websites.
1) Don’t talk about yourself. Do talk about your visitor.
Too often I see sites with “fluffy” copy stating things like “we are the best widget maker in the business today.” Or “we provide a large variety of widgets to meet all kinds of applications”.
If there is one thing I have said time and time again, it is when you talk, talk from the customers perspective not the sellers. Don’t tell your visitors how “great” you are.
Instead, tell them how your product(s) can help them fulfill their own need. This is what they want to hear, and it is what will cause them to buy. After all, would you buy a “whatchamacallit” from me if I told you it was the best “whatchamacallit” in the world? I doubt it because you don’t know what that “watchamacallit” does, and furthermore, how that will benefit you.
Now, if I told you that “whatchamacallit” was a tool which was guaranteed and proven to put at least $1000.00 in your pocket within the first 24 hours … and you would only have to put forth $9.94 to get it, well I bet you would jump on the chance right? It’s all about the wording and the angle of approach.
The lesson: The site is about your visitors … not you.
2) Don’t get in the way of your visitors, especially when you are selling something. Do mark your visitors path to the end goal clearly and consistently.
Putting together a well thought out site structure with consistent navigation one of the biggest keys to visitor satisfaction. Keep “deep linking” to a minimum and make sure that it takes no more than 3 clicks for a user to get at the information they seek.
Use breadcrumb trials when possible to assist the visitor in navigating the site.
The lesson: Don’t make your visitors think. Keep it simple.
3) Don’t become too attached to your site. Do realize that all good sites grow, adapt, and change in relation to their market.
Many website owners “love” the design of their site so much that they overlook what their visitors think. They invest a lot of time and money into a design without ever thinking what their customers actually want.
First realize that if you are to satisfy your visitors, you must listen to them and test. Testing is one key to success. You may start with one design in mind (hopefully it has been founded on the notion of what your visitors will like), but once launched, test as many sections of the site as possible using a tool like Google’s Website Optimizer (Now Google Content Experiments).
You’ll often times find that what works for your visitors (and increases your sales) is not what you initially thought. That winning combination is the power behind increased conversion. But you have to be willing to change and adapt to the results. Your success depends on it.
The lesson: It’s OK to change. Don’t design a site based on what you think is nice. Let your research lead you and design it based on what your ideal customer would think works for them … whether you like it or not.
4) Don’t assume a site looks good to all users if it looks good on your machine. Do test it on as many browser platforms as possible to ensure a widely accepted layout.
This should be a given however, I still come across many sites that do not appear correctly under different browsers and versions. This is a sure way to alienate potential customers and is no way to grow your sales.
If you do not have the capability to test what your site looks like under multiple browsers and settings, you can use a service like BrowserCam to help do that for you. No matter the road you take, make sure you test for cross-browser compatibility.
The lesson: Test how your site looks under as many browsers and platforms as possible to ensure you are not excluding potential customers from buying what you are selling.
5) Don’t make it difficult for visitors to contact you. Do give them several ways to do just that.
If you’ve ever been shopping and had a question (online or in a brick an mortar store), you’ll know what I mean here. Providing contact information is not only a credibility issue it’s more than that.
It is downright frustrating for potential customers that may have a question to not be able to get a hold of someone to ask it. In a brick in mortar store they may walk around looking for someone to ask. On the Internet they simply leave. It’s just too easy.
If you want to increase sales, provide multiple methods for customers to contact you, and display those methods in plain site. Things like customer service phone numbers, live chats, email, etc… give them the flexibility to choose which suits their needs at that moment. These all go a long way to satisfying the visitor and turning them into a lifetime customer.
If you operate a business that either does not have a business phone line, or is operated out of a house (and you do not want to give your personal home phone number as a customer service number) then you can use a service like Google Voice to get a phone number masked to ring at any number of phone lines you want. And it’s FREE! Another option (not free but great resource) is OneBox.
The lesson: Don’t hide from your customers. If you want to generate more sales, make yourself available to them. Remember, if you hide from them, they will hide from you.