Good web design is an art. It’s often interpreted to mean just colors and layout and fancy scrolly things, but there’s more to it than that. An effectively designed website should be capable of helping you to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. You might have a fitness blog and you want to grow your audience, or you’re a writer and you’d like to sell more copies of your book. Color schemes and layouts definitely play a part in the overall design, but there are a few powerful steps to consider carefully if you want to garner real, tangible results.
5 powerful steps to effective website design
1. Attract your target audience
Do you know who your target audience is? If not, you might want to go and figure this one out right away. You need to be laser focused on who you are talking to. I would design a website one way if my target audience was avid readers of my book, and very differently if I was talking to fitness enthusiasts. You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh Patrick, everyone knows that!”, but you’d be surprised. I see the same WordPress themes used on sites targeting very different markets all the time. Here are some of the questions you can answer to help you determine your target audience.
Thinking about your ideal customer, what is (are) their:
2. Have a clear & concise value proposition
You’ve done some work and now have some clarity about who you are talking to, but how do you know that they will want what you are offering? You need to have a clear and concise value proposition or unique selling proposition. A value proposition is a promise to the customer that there is some value to your brand that is different from the competition. For example, Tiny Footprint Coffee says “You drink coffee, we plant trees.” How awesome is that? I’m on their homepage for less than 5 seconds and I know exactly why doing business with them is better than the competition. Makes me want to drink their coffee for sure. Here are a couple of questions to help you determine your value proposition.
Thinking about your target audience or ideal customer:
What are their problems or issues?
How do you solve those problems or address those issues?
Will you save people money?
Will you save them time?
How will your brand improve their life?
Why should people buy from you and not your competition?
3. Encourage visitors to consume & share your content
So you’ve got your target audience on your website, and they know instantly why doing business with you is better than the other guys. What are you offering in the way of content that encourages them to read and then share it? Good content should draw your audience in, it should offer solutions to their problems, and it should leave them wanting more. It should be so good that they feel compelled to share it with their friends. Back to our fitness blog example, if I’m a marathon runner and see a blog post titled “Run Your Next Marathon Pain-Free”, you bet I’m intrigued! I have a problem, running a marathon is painful. Here sits a possible solution right in front of me. I’m definitely reading that and then sharing it with all my runner friends.
4. Satisfy the user experience
The term user experience (UX) is all abuzz these days. It’s not enough to offer a great product or service and have a nice-looking website, your customers need to feel good every time they interact with your brand. There are many factors that go into providing a good UX, and they can vary from site to site, but there are a few guidelines that apply to every site. To satisfy the user experience your website needs to be:
It should be easy for your visitors to navigate your site and to find the information they are looking for. It can be pretty frustrating when users can’t find the page, post, or product that brought them to your site in the first place. But intuitive can mean different things to different people so testing is key. Companies like ClickTale and Crazy Egg offer awesome user experience analytics and heatmaps to help determine what’s working on your site and what’s not.
I’ve been designing websites for around 15 years and some things have never changed. People still feel they have to cram everything they can onto every page of their website. Good website design is uncluttered. It makes good use of white space and provides easy to read text. If you find your eyes darting all over the page looking for what to do next, there’s probably too much going on.
Of the highest quality
Does your website look like your teenage cousin hacked it together in a weekend? Is that the first impression you want the world to have of your business? To avoid that depiction, spend a little money and get a professional to build a custom website around your brand (you can always hire me!). Hire a pro photographer or pay for good quality stock images. Your website should be a consistent and accurate representation of your business and a professional knows how to put all the pieces together. Your business is worth the investment.
5. Keep your audience engaged
Your target audience loves your website, loves reading and sharing your content, and always feels good after interacting with your brand. Great job! The question now is how do you keep them engaged? The best way to do this is to create awesome content on a regular basis. Get to know your audience’s pain points and consistently offer something of value that addresses those pain points. For instance, if you’re selling a book on how to be a better salesperson, try sharing sales tips and tricks of the trade via your blog once a week. Determine the topics your audience is most interested in and deliver the goods regularly.
Another awesome way to keep your audience engaged with your brand is via an opt-in email list. Email is targeted, direct, and very personal. Start collecting email addresses from day one and be sure to communicate consistently. One easy way of doing this is to setup an email campaign for your blog’s RSS feed. Every time you publish a new blog post a nicely-formatted email goes out to everyone on your list. How awesome is that? (By the way, you can join my email list any time! Just fill out the simple form at the end of this post!)
[Tweet “Good web design is invisible. You should just feel compelled to take action.”]
Designing an effective website is not rocket surgery, but it is an art form. It takes knowing how to put all the right pieces together to make your business look as awesome as it actually is. In fact, when you visit an effective website you almost don’t notice the design at all. Good web design is invisible. You should just feel compelled to take action. And when your audience takes action, you start seeing real results.
Questions to ponder
What comes to mind when you think of good web design? Cool looking graphics, bold colors, or a clear and concise value proposition? What do you want to accomplish with your website? Is your current website capable of helping you to achieve your goals? I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments. Let’s engage!
Want a FREE website assessment? Contact me today to see how effective your website is and how you can make it better!