Over the last 20 years, your website has become an essential part of your customer’s journey to purchase. Your social media channels have allowed you to reach prospects and customers wherever they are and drive them to your website. Whether you do that to support customer research or to grow marketing assets such as a mailing list, the technical and creative elements of your website need to be working hard to improve conversion rates.
Each website has a different purpose, but there are some general principles that can be applied to all websites. These principles help ensure your website is user friendly for both customers and search engines alike.
Being able to understand what you want from your website is the first step in creating it successfully. This means understanding exactly what your business does – where your target market lies – how website visitors will interact with your site – which marketing methods work best for your product or services.
If your site can be easily navigated by customers while also being aesthetically pleasing, then you have hit the sweet spot between creativity and conversion rates. Good wireframes are design agnostic and, alongside a sitemap, create the routing for a website. The design that lays on top of this routing makes it easy for users to get from one page to another. One element of this navigation is menu architecture. Options should be presented as short and wide, rather than narrow and long. Users prefer to pick from multiple short lists, than find the thing they want in a menu list with 75 items.
Video content such as customer success stories drive engagement, but they need to be implemented in a way that doesn’t harm load times or consume bandwidth. When a website works correctly each time, technically and conceptually, it reduces customer bounce rates, increasing conversion rates. The faster your pages load and the longer you can keep people on your pages, the greater chance you have of converting them to your aim.
Search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on improving your site’s search ranking to ultimately drive more traffic to your website. The suite of tools offered by noted SEO expert Neil Patel can help you do everything from keyword research to website analysis to competitor analysis. Optimising your site for SEO also creates general improvements for user experience across multiple devices and viewports (the size of the screen.)
This is a point that often straddles technical and creative elements, but users whose experiences are different through sensory or physical differences, will appreciate the efforts you make to create an accessible website for them. One example of the technical side of accessibility is image alt text. This text can be read for people with vision impairment by automated systems and it also helps with image indexing by search engines.
One of the most common problems website owners have with their webpage is that they do not pay enough attention to design features. The way information is presented to a user is important. While a website should not be too busy and distract users from the website’s primary function, it should also have enough going on to keep customers interested.
How static do you want pages to be? If you go for minimal scroll the architecture of visual information is critical. What is the most important thing you want a user to take away from that page? If you have a long scrolling page, with multiple sections, how do you connect each section so that a user is gathering information but also compelled to keep scrolling as part of an ongoing experience?
There are a number of elements, or design tropes, for websites that you should be aware of. For example, many websites place a company logo top left hyperlinked to the homepage. If your site doesn’t have a logo in the header, or link that logo to the homepage, take extra care to signpost how users can return to the homepage.
Creative website designs can take the expected and dispense with it, if they have a strong vision that users will understand and feel comfortable with. The key is balance; you want website visitors to enjoy browsing your website, but you also want to stand out. If your website is too different, it might feel alienating or frustrating, which will nix any chance of conversion.
By being creative, by employing the expected website elements alongside creative website design features, web designers successfully connect your website with your customers’ expectations, while making you stand out from the competition.
While the tools, templates and software are available across the web, it can sometimes be difficult to put it all together. One blog says to optimise one way, another says to do the opposite.
How do you incorporate brand fonts, or pick an appropriate web-safe font? How do you optimise motion content such as videos or gifs? How can you best incorporate an AI chatbot to support website visitors? How do you future proof your design so you won’t have to continuously rework your website?
Mulberry MC has extensive experience creating websites of all sizes, for different purposes. Whether it’s the creation or restructure of your main brand website, product microsites, campaign sub sites or the design and development of individual pages, we can take the purpose of your site and make it function for your target audiences.
In short, if you want a website that performs above and below the hood, get in touch.
Mike McConnell is a Creative Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications. An award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in London, Chicago and Melbourne. He has years of experience creating and editing written work alongside developing ideas for a diverse range of clients across multiple formats. The first website he built was a shocking lime green affair for a band called Black Gang Chine.