The New Rules of Web Design

1.) Make your pages active

There should always be some sort of action on a page. Can your visitor make a choice? Contact you? Buy now? Become a member? Join a list? Give them something to do.

2.) Images over text

The fact is people are visual creatures. They are going to look at a picture before they look at the text. If it’s a wall of text they’re going to get bored and wander off elsewhere. Use banners, feature images, product images, icons and buttons. Put brief descriptions under or over the images so they know the meaning, but use those images.

3.) Minimize options

Limit choices. Too many choices and your guest won’t be able to make up their mind what’s best for them. Have a hierarchy of options: 2-3 big ones at the top, 4-6 smaller options below. Once someone decides in what direction they want to go you can offer relevant options from there, but they don’t need to see everything you have to offer all at once, because chances are, they don’t even need that other stuff. Imagine you are on a clothing site. Up at the top, that’s what they want you to buy – their sales, then you can decide man, woman or child, then its tops, bottoms, undies, foot wear and accessories. If all you want is a t-shirt, most of that stuff isn’t relevant. You go your own way and all those other options are out of the way. PS: If you like that t-shirt, you might like this hoodie too.

4.) Direct your guests

What are your top money makes? What are the most important products and services you want to promote? Put those at the top of your page in the form of banners and sub features. From each thing you promote make it instantly accessible with go now / buy now buttons. Once they are on that page have them take action. They can love it, share it, buy it or ask about it whatever it is. You can also direct them to related products and services from there.

5.) Minimize text

People don’t really want to have to work hard at reading large blocks of text when they are skimming to find the information they need – even people who enjoy reading. There was a time when it was advised to write as much as possible when being descriptive – natural flowing, conversational, keyword ladened material. That’s not so anymore. Well you can – in your blog – but where you’re doing business, keep it short and sweet.

Where possible useBIG TITLES!!!, followed by slightly smaller titles, followed by short sentences, followed by…

6.) List

As long as they are relevant to your page’s topic, list are a great way of getting in those keywords. It doesn’t even have to be a long list. A couple of bullet points that can either be a few words or brief sentences. Just make your point.

7.) Ease of contact

Have ever present contact forms. Put them on your product pages even. Out of site is out of mind. Your guests might have a question about a thing, but forgot what that thing was they were looking at because they surfed a few pages.

8.) Suggest to your guests

If you like this, then maybe you’d be interested in that. I design logos. It makes sense that if someone is getting a logo designed, they might need new business cards or other promotional materials. Is this for a new company? Do you need a website? You already have a website, but are you taking advantage of the business that flows through social media? Let’s get your new logo to work!

9.) Provide incentives

Providing dead end information pages really doesn’t generate business. For example one of my clients does custom gift baskets. So we created a page called Gift Basket Ideas and listed everything we could think of for just about any occasion, plus what might go in those baskets. A long, but keyword rich page. But while the customer might get something out of it, she doesn’t. Instead, we saved that list as a PDF and and now if they want the information they can sign up for her mailing list. She doesn’t really have time for a regular newsletter, but everyone has time for seasonal promotions!

10.) Have a hierarchy

Use your title tags. Google looks at that stuff and that hierarchy makes stuff like lists and call-outs / promotions relevant to the main topic of your page.

ll.) What others say

Testimonials build faith. Sprinkle them liberally through out. A lot of companies will have a testimonial page, but that’s kind of like that dead end information page I mentioned earlier. It’s not really generating business and most of those testimonials will go unread because, frankly, it’s dull on mass. If you must offer a testimonial page, make it part of your downloadable media kit.

Your welcome. I just sat through a $2000 rebuild of a client’s website through a company whose expertise is marketing. They were doing basically all the same things I do, but they had a different way of thinking, a plan for getting guest to act. I learned a lot. I also shared a lot, so it was a win-win.

Bonus Tips

A.) Having many small boutique sites convert more sales than a big box store. If you sell sporting goods, sell your kayaks separately. you might have a few relevant products on the site like a floatation vest and a paddle, but don’t try to sell them a bike while you’re at it (not that you can’t have ads for your other sites). Specialization is a way of limiting choice and encouraging your customer to act – buy or inquire now. It also makes you look like an expert in that one thing – building trust.

B.) Decide how much money you want to make per conversion. Sure fewer people are going to want to buy a $500 kayak, but for the ones that do, that’s one transaction you have to manage. Guess how much more time and effort it takes to sell $10 t-shirts. Yep, 50x the amount of work to earn the same buck.

I learned those two elsewhere not long ago. I used the kayak example because that’s what they were using, but that can apply to lots of things. Ex: My separate services: web, design, illustration and murals. Maybe you’re a promoter and have different bands to feature; give each of them their own site. Don’t worry that it makes you look small featuring just one act. That country bar wasn’t going to hire the metal band anyway.

Speaking of text heavy reading…