Principles of Outstanding Web Design
It's a fact that website visitors aren't going to work too hard to become your customers. They probably don't care enough to stick around if your website loads slow and they're not going to read your 300-word paragraph of text describing your company, no matter how thoughtfully composed. Kissmetric's data is pretty clear that a simple, to-the-point approach to your home page is best:
Only 20% of Website Visitors Read Below the Fold of Your Website, Meaning the Vast Majority Don't Scroll.
Only 20% of Visitors Read Text Beyond a Headline.
Readership of Text Drops Off Very Sharply After 50 Words.
If you're wondering how you can possibly get anything done entirely above the fold and with simple headlines, fear not. We've compiled examples of the five most colossal web design mistakes, but we've also found some inbound marketing strategy inspiration: brands who've mastered the art of communicating their product and services in a simple, visually-appealing and concise manner.
1. So What ARE You, Anyway?
Within seconds of landing on your company website, your visitors should know exactly what you're about and how you can help them. The last thing you want to do is leave them wondering exactly how you fit into their pain point. A logo isn't enough. Include a tag line, descriptive text and relevant images. Let's call it "Product 101" for the sake of simplicity. Remember, even if your product is a little complicated, your visitors aren't going to have the patience to wade through paragraphs of text or any industry-specific jargon.
HubSpot Marketing Software deals with "Product 101" pretty well:
The text contrasts well, and it's placed right in the center of the website. "Create Marketing People Love: HubSpot Provides All the Software You Need to Do Inbound Marketing." That's just 92 characters - less than a Tweet. It's effective, free of jargon and definitely not too wordy.
2. Free and Clear
White space is your friend. Seriously. If your website has so many icons and navigation options that it's the online equivalant of a hoarder, it's time to step back and introduce some simplicity. Whether your product is high-heeled boots or specialized image consultations, your buyer personas are going to react better if they don't feel confused from the moment they hit your website.
Stepping onto the website of West Coast design firm Hundred10 feels relaxing and inviting, because they use white space really effectively:
3. Where To?
The next mistake is one I see on a daily basis, on everything from self-made websites of small town photographers to major corporations who've clearly spent hundreds of thousands on the design. It's navigation -it's got to be logical, familiar and clear enough. Your website visitors aren't going to spend minutes trying to learn your website layout. Make it clear how they can get to what they want from the start.
Does this mean you have to use traditional language and familiar navigation titles that read About Us, Our Team and Contact Us, in that order? Nope! You can have a little fun as long as it's logical, clean and easy to use. eCommerce glasses retailer Warby Parker succeeds at offering visitors a simple navigation that still has a little personality:
4. Can They Interact?
You want your website to connect with visitors, so they come back, become leads and head through your sales cycle. Your website has to grab them and present them with an opportunity they just can't pass up. There are a few ways to do this, but Calls-to-Action are the catch-all for getting visitors to connect. You should provide a few options, too. If they're not ready to sign up for a free trial or your TOFU free eBook would they be willing to subscribe to your blog? How about connect with your company on Pinterest?
Marketing software company Vocus has no shortage of options for their website visitors. On the homepage alone, you're invited (twice) to a free demo, given two opportunities to learn more about the product and shown four highly visible social media buttons. Now that's what we call options:
5. Ignoring Mobile
Did you know that 35% of American adults now own a mobile-enabled device? That's a pretty big percentage, and failing to mobile-optimize can cut a pretty big chunk out of your business. The latest research by Google has indicated that 61% of mobile web users will hit the "back button" if they find a website isn't optimized or doen't load quickly. That means you're losing around 17% of your potential leads if you don't mobile optimize. Who can afford that?
Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/KROMKRATHOG