In HubSpot’s “The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics,” the site shares a 2014 statistic from Retailing Today, now Chain Store Age, that 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase decision.
As we move into 2018, where smartphones, voice-activated talking assistants and multiple email addresses are commonplace, an organization’s website plays a very important role in the image and brand of the business. I, myself, find it difficult not initially to make a snap-judgement about a business or organization based on the appearance and usefulness of their website.
HubSpot recently updated an article, originally posted in 2016, that includes some statistics specifically about web design and what users are looking for. Unfortunately, becoming an expert in web and user experience (usability / accessibility) design is not an option for all of us, but there are a few fundamentals you can focus on, whether providing desires and content to a designer or using a build-your-own website.
- Use a sharp but simple color palette and easy-to-read fonts.
The first thing people will notice when they visit your website is the visual aesthetic and appearance. HubSpot shared that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is not visually attractive. It’s important to make sure the appearance of your website is eye-catching and cohesive, but you also don’t want to overload the eye. Two aspects that can affect how pleasing your site is to look at are fonts and color.
Traditionally, you want to limit yourself to about three colors and two to three fonts as a cohesive design throughout the entire website. Photos and graphics will add other colors or fonts, but you want some solid, simple elements for everything to be built on.
Additionally, while the eye reads serif fonts (those with small “feet” on each letter) more easily on paper, sans serif fonts (those without small “feet”) are easier to read on digital platforms. For the majority of your content and copy, it’s normally best to choose a sans serif font in a color with a high contrast against the color of your site’s background. This will make the content as easy for the eye to read as possible.
- Create a pleasant, intuitive user experience.
Have you ever visited an organization’s website for a specific piece of information and spent entirely too long looking for it? This is where user experience is very important.
According to HubSpot, 86 percent of visitors want to see information about a company’s products/services once arriving at a company’s homepage.
Additionally, 64 percent want to see the company’s contact information. Ask yourself what information a visitor to your site will most likely be looking for. For a restaurant, it may be your hours of operation or a menu. For a photographer, it may be your contact or pricing information. Make sure this information is as easy to find as possible, perhaps even at the top of the home page.
It’s also important to ask yourself where your site visitors may look for a specific piece of information. You want an intuitive, natural flow to your site and its pages. This will make your site easy-to-use and encourage people to stick around and explore a little more.
- Create content that’s relevant to your audience.
While it is important to make sure you provide the content your audience is looking for in an easy-to-find place, it is also important to make sure the content you’re providing is what they’re looking for. In some cases, you may also want to think about what kind of information they need, but may not know you can provide. Think about your target market and the demographic you’re catering to, and then consider all of the content you could provide to help them with your area of expertise.
An important part of providing content is also keeping your information up-to-date and providing the most relevant information possible. Keeping your information timely and accurate as well as relevant will also help with your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). The newer your content, the higher Google is likely to list it in search results. Using updated terminology and keeping up with trends will also increase your chances of a web user performing a search using the same terms. You don’t want to overload your website with content that isn’t applicable to your industry or reader, but providing relevant, useful information in your industry’s area will establish you as a trusted source the reader can go to when they need more information about your specific area in the future.
- Use quality photography, graphics and video.
Mixing up the format of the content you provide on your website is also important. This gives site users multiple ways to digest the content you’re providing.
Quality photography, infographics and video give site visitors visual ways to take in your information, which allows your site to interest more people. If a site user doesn’t feel like reading your content, they may be more likely to stay on your site if you offer it to them graphically or in video form.
Additionally, visual elements can break up the monotony of a large amount of type, making your site seem less like a daunting read, and more like engaging content.
- Provide calls-to-action to downloadable content.
Along with creating visual content like videos and photography, downloadable content can also add an interesting aspect for site visitors. These downloads could be PDFs, PowerPoints or even audio tracks for podcasts or lectures. Obvious buttons for calls-to-action that link to forms to receive downloadable content are a great way to capture leads, while also providing useful information to your user.
Again, these materials keep visitors coming back to your site as an information source and capturing their information through a form gives you a way to engage with them later.
- Embed your social media feeds.
Embedding your social media feeds on your web pages allows those visiting your site another look at how your organization is branding itself. It shows them that your site is interesting as well as your brand’s presence on social platforms. This is a great way to increase follower counts, while also providing a convenient, one-stop location for site users to see what your organization is doing on social media.
- Make sure your site is mobile responsive.
It’s rare to enter a public space without seeing multiple people looking at a smartphone screen. HubSpot also shared that mobile devices currently account for almost two of every three minutes spent online. It’s now imperative that your organization’s site be mobile-friendly. When working with a build-you-own website tool, you can often make your website mobile-friendly with just the application of a specific setting. If working with a designer, they may only need to make some small coding adjustments. Though the steps can be small, a mobile responsive website is imperative to keeping your audience engaged once they arrive.
The most important thing to remember when creating or revamping a website is that the ultimate goal is answering the questions of the site visitor. People visit your website because they are looking for something. Whether it’s with formatting, design responsive to their device, relevant information or content that engages their style of learning, provide what is going to help your target audience. It’s also important to remember that overwhelming website content is not helpful, so choose what will help the most and provide it in a way that makes it easy to understand, easy to find and easy to enjoy. This will keep your site visitors interested and keep them coming back for more.
At Mary Beth West Communications, we work with many of our clients to adjust the design of their websites, or build new sites, that are interesting and attractive to online visitors and generate positive results. For more information on website development services, contact us at email@example.com.