There are two broad elements that determine the success of your website. Its representation of your brand and the experience that visitors have with it.
Let’s start with something easy. Sitewide, website elements should use the colors and fonts defined in your company’s brand guidelines. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is that consistent branding builds recognition. It also creates less work and confusion. Different colors and fonts on every page can exponentially increase both the design workload for a website as well as the technical implementation.
Your website is also a place where your brand’s voice can really take flight. Unbound by the restrictions of email marketing or social media posting, you can give full throat to your brand’s identity. You can talk directly to customers, attract them and convert them.
Blog posts that tackle industry issues, infographics that reveal research findings, customer testimonials and many other forms of marketing can shine within a well-defined, on-brand website.
After that, it’s on to the more difficult questions like whether to gate your content or not?
When it comes to site visitors, the basic dichotomy is this; visitors want essentially the same things from all sites. To be able to find the information, product or service they came to your site for, and find it quickly without hunting around.
Your website needs to be the song Alone, most notably performed by Heart. Like many power ballads and pop songs of the era it talks about loneliness and love delivered over alternating soft and explosive musical sections. What makes Alone different is that it presents loneliness not as a result of falling out of love but as a revelation due to falling in love.
“Until now, I always got by on my own.”
You need to include the website elements that visitors expect but present them in a way that is new and interesting. Doing so means expectations are met but your website will stand out from your competitors.
So, how do you develop a great website that satisfies visitors?
Eye tracking studies show that first visits to a site often result in a user creating an F shape. First, they look for what they want along the top, then down the side and then potentially in at a certain point. In recent years, there has been some shift to scanning the top of the page, then the footer to find locate helpful information.
Placing information in these locations helps users find what they want quickly.
In terms of how to structure information, visitors tend to prefer a wide and shallow hierarchy rather than a narrow and deep hierarchy. For example, instead of two headings and fifty items under each, they prefer ten headings and ten items.
A successful website also makes sure to adhere to the following best practices:
An overwhelming majority of website first impressions (94%) are design related rather than a matter of content. Thus, your website needs to be visually appealing. Be careful not to confuse visual interest with overloading your website with imagery. There should be a nice balance between text and images so that visitors can quickly scan your website left and right and up and down.
Quick load times are key, as 39% of users will stop engaging with a website if images take too long to load. Make sure your images are quick to load by resizing and/or compressing them. You should also be mindful of the format. JPG and PNG are traditionally used across websites, but an emerging format WebP can make your images more manageable on modern web browsers.
Don’t forget to create an equally functional mobile version of your site, as 85% of people have higher expectations for mobile sites compared with the desktop version. Plus, many people access websites exclusively from their phones now, such as when they’re browsing Instagram or using voice search on iPhone or Android. You will have to make some slight adjustments to the mobile version of your website to ensure that it displays as intended. Otherwise, you run the risk that the website looks outdated or won’t load quickly enough to capture the customer’s attention.
Here’s one final statistic to back up why implementing the elements of a successful website are so crucial: 88% of visitors won’t return if they have a bad experience on your site. To repeat, almost 9 out of 10 visitors to your site, won’t give you a second chance. Thus, incorporating the above guidelines is key for ensuring that people enjoy their experience on your website and want to return again and again.
Need assistance establishing a website that doesn’t need a second chance? Contact Mulberry today to discuss how we can help you improve the look and functionality of your website to help you drive new leads.
Mike McConnell is a Creative Lead at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Melbourne. He has years of experience creating and editing written work for a diverse range of clients across multiple formats.