Credit: Jerry Jao, Entrepreneur.com A company website is the face of a business and one of its main sales tool, so it needs to be built with the aim of converting visitors into customers.
The primary goal of a site is to educate the audience on what the company does, why it provides the best solution for people's needs and prompt users to take action (subscribe, contact the corporation or purchase) as quickly as possible.
Even when a company has the best product or service in its industry, if its website is not communicating messages quickly, concisely and effectively, this can result in valuable customers being lost to competitors.
1. Use bite-size pieces.
In this age of information overload (a 2008 estimate found a U.S. individual consumed more than 100,000 words a day on average), users browsing websites want to quickly determine if a given site is relevant to them. Don't present massive amounts of text about what a company does. No one has the patience for this anymore.
When it comes to successful website design, the"Keep It Simple, Stupid," or KISS principle, formulated by engineer Kelly Johnson, is apt. A site's home page and its main navigational pages need to be as clean and to the point as possible and designed in a visually appealing way -- no flashing and blinking, busy content.
Providing less clutter with more white space and clear snippets of relevant information is now a common best practice. Longer text for educational purposes can go in product descriptions, definitions, blogs and guides.
Present the content on the main pages in bite-size pieces of copy and put images in a page-scrolling format. The font should be large enough for easy reading and the text kept short and punchy. Each block of information needs to lead on from the previous part to create a story.
One Percent for the Planet’s website displays its content in a visual and fun way, with lots of space around content.
2. Cater to all styles of learning.
Many researchers have found variation in the way people learn: For example, Walter Barbe, Raymond Swassing and Michael Milone found 30 percent of individuals learn visually, 25 percent by hearing and 5 percent through kinesthetic means (or touching).
When browsing a website, some people gravitate toward reading text while others opt for images. Some prefer watching a video and still others like to read blog posts. By presenting information in different formats (text, video or still images), people of all learning styles can be addressed and potential valuable customers won't be ignored.
Design each page as a combination of text, icons and images. That way viewers can go straight to their preferred content type to absorb a message. Repeat concepts by presenting a diagram, say, and displaying statistics as a combination of text and imagery.
3. It’s not all about you!
A lot of company websites make the mistake of just talking about the product or service features. The text might say, "We do this and that" or "We are the best at this and that."
Meanwhile the viewer is thinking, "What about me? How are you fulfilling my needs?" Smart marketers know how to highlight product or service benefits in a way that results in an emotional response.
For Retention Science's site, I tried to take this a step further by communicating the company's purpose or cause, drawing inspiration from Simon Sinek’s TED Talk "How great leaders inspire action."
4. Many roads lead to Rome.
Getting customers to take action is a prime objective of a company website. This might entail encouraging someone to subscribe to the email list (to receive marketing materials prompting a purchase) or enticing a customer to sign up for a demonstration. Providing throughout the site multiple buttons, links and ways for people to take action increases the chances of that happening.
5. Provide a guided experience.
Once visitors arrive on a site, they are trying to determine what the company is all about and if it's relevant to them. If they chose to stay on the site, they need to decide where to go next.
Given the fact that users usually leave a website in less than 30 seconds, provide a clear pathway. Steer them first toward becoming educated about the company's benefits, then point them toward taking action. This can be done by organizing the order of items on the navigational bar, adding buttons that lead to the next relevant page and strategically placing directional arrows. Plus the site can include pop-up forms to capture email addresses.