When it comes to how you lay out your website there are a million things to consider. However, if you don’t have a starting point then you are unlikely to be working in the direction that will meet your business goals or objectives. If your website isn’t clearly laid out and doesn’t represent your business then you are likely to end up losing customers to your competitors.
With the experience, we have designing and developing websites we wanted to share some of our most important Do’s and Don’t when designing or working with a designer to create your website.
Do have an about page
We have noticed this trend of people leaving out their about page. This is particularly prevalent in companies that sell products. I understand why people would sometimes want to give this a miss, for example, trying to hide their size or not really sure what should be on this page. An about page helps your customers understand what makes your business different and gives you the opportunity to sell your brand and the people who make that brand a reality.
This definitely doesn’t mean lie or exaggerate, this is far more obvious to consumers that your lack brand confidence more than not having an about page at all.
Tell people your origin story, what your business stands for, your goals, who is on your team, your aspirations, things you do to grow your company culture! The options are endless and provide a window into your business that helps people relate and connect with your brand.
Do have great photography/graphics
This is a given! You must, must, must have great photography and graphics to represent your business online.
Visuals can be the most powerful element on your website and a gateway for people to feel more involved with the content on your site.
It’s a delicate balance of using the right image in the right place and with the right content.
We were going to have a ‘don’t use stock images’ part of this article but we debated it and decided to have it as a note here. Stock images can be Kryptonite for some people. It can be so instantly obvious if you use stock mixed in with original images if the styles don’t match. It can completely detach the user from your brand image and can leave a messy looking site.
Also, stock images rarely use people’s faces which depersonalised your brand and your website for the user.
We suggest if you are going to use stock images to use them only for inanimate objects such as computers, cities, buildings etc. Not people!
Graphics are also very powerful so if you can afford it in your budget then we suggest getting some custom iconography or a splash of graphical images to spice up your website.
Most people read the reviews on Amazon before buying something. Most people read reviews of a movie before going to the cinema.
Most people read testimonials on a website before they get in touch.
People like to feel that they are buying from a good company and good testimonials goes a long way in convincing people that they could work with you.
Try and gather a bank of testimonials for your website and display them front and centre for everyone to see.
If you have enough, dedicate a page to them. Show off that you are proud of your great customer service and great product.
It seems obvious but is a simple fix.
Having great navigation on your website is so important to user experience. It is normally the first thing that people look for when they get access to your site. Make it clear, easy to understand and simple to find areas of your site.
Do not use unusual terms that would make people have to think about what it is they are going to find when clicking.
Contact should be called ‘contact’, about should be called ‘about’, blog should be called ‘blog’ or ‘news’.
Don’t make it complicated.
If you have a capable designer and developer they should be able to provide you with multiple options for navigation and help you plan this out to work for your users.
Do have an FAQ
We have a love-hate relationship with FAQ pages. They can be exceptional if they are put together correctly and contain actually frequently asked questions.
However, these sections on a website all to often contain the small print that companies don’t want to show you on the website like returns policy and things to do with payment.
This can be a really great experience for your customers if you use it as intended. Ask yourself, ask friends, ask previous customers, “What would have helped you make a decision to buy/contact my business sooner”.
Use those questions and answers to compile an FAQ that packs a punch and is helpful to potential buyers.
Do have Call to Actions
No, we are not talking about popups. No, we are not talking about slide out pop-ups! Time to get popups out of your mind.
A pop us is basically a website admitting that no one thought about user experience.
Using a call to action provides a user with an out, a way to proceed to the next piece of information that you will find interesting.
Consider the information you want people to know about your product or service and lead them through that content to a call to action that prompts them to move forward.
Be considerate of your call to actions though. Don’t just blast them all over your site. Make them helpful, useful and considerate towards your users.
Do have a Value Proposition
A call to action can be more than a button that says ‘Click Me’.
Combining your business’s value proposition with a good call to action goes that extra mile in helping your customers make a decision.
A good value proposition explains how your product or service solves your customer’s problems.
Good examples of this are:
When you visit all of these companies home pages they instantly make their value proposition clear. You know what they do and how it makes your life easier.
Take the cue from these guys and you’re onto a winner.
So now for the stuff that you shouldn’t be doing with your website.
We have already mentioned two things you shouldn’t be doing such as overusing stock images and popups but we want to go into a little more detail around one of these.
Don’t use popups like a popup maniac
Popups have a place. We admit it, I think most people would have at one time or another found value in popups.
However, since the dawn of popups, people have gone a little crazy using them. It’s like a pop-up-apocalypse!
You really need to think when you put a popup on your website. Why is this useful to the user? Is it for your benefit or theirs. Let us give you an example. Newsletter sign up. From the user’s perspective, they may very well be interested in signing up to your business newsletter and if you show them on your website your interesting and helpful content alongside a good call to action the user may be inclined to willfully submit their information.
However, if they are scrolling through your website and BOOM popup ‘Signup to our newsletter’. What have you shown them that would make them want to submit their details to you? This is obvious and a desperate ploy for their details. Its saying ‘I want you to sign up’ instead of ‘You are interested so here is how to sign up’.
It’s a subtle difference but it makes all the difference to your user experience.
Don’t use Flash
Yeah, we really didn’t want to have to explain a billion reasons why not to use flash on your website but here we go.
Flash is the internet equivalent or rocking up to a car show with a steam engine. It is outdated, slow and provides a disappointing user experience.
Flash is being phased out on most browsers and even its creator Adobe is stopping support for its once web-dominating style.
If your website is using flash and if you want to be considered by any customers it’s time to make upgrade your website.
Don’t be unresponsive
It is 2017. Yup. 2017. More than half of all web browsing is carried out on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile responsive you better have some pretty dedicated used and a pretty amazing service to convince people to visit your site.
If you are saying to your users that they have to sit down at a desktop computer to enjoy your computer then you have already lost the battle.
Upgrading your website to be mobile responsive generally means you need to redevelop your site and we understand this is an investment but if you want to have a place on the web this is something you will need to do.
Don’t take your users for granted
You can all too often forget the reason that people visit your website and decide that you want to change things up without considering the people that brought you your popularity. Talk with your users, find out what they like and dislike and upgrade accordingly. Site and application redesigns are a great thing and keeping your designs up to date make for a happy audience.
One thing to keep in mind though is that people get used to how things are and don’t always love huge, overwhelming change, let’s not forget the travesty that was Windows Vista.
Keep your users in mind and think of them when you’re making big changes.
If you have any questions or have any suggestions that we can add to this list please get in touch!