Billboards, in many ways, are the opposite of content marketing. It shoves a small message into our eyeballs whether we want it or not. There are only a few exceptions they provide value, like when you really need to eat or find a restroom. They do nothing to earn our attention. They are this infuriating combination of intrusive and passive.
Yet there are many websites that treat their customers just like this. The owners just slap up some information and rely on search engines to deliver their electronic billboard to the right eyes. Those eyes look at the information for about 3-5 seconds (same amount of time as a physical billboard, in fact), and then they bounce off unless you get lucky.
But at the same time, there are websites that absorb our attention for hours at a time and keep us coming back for more. Same basic technology, completely different response. What’s the difference? Those attention-grabbing websites create valuable user experiences.
If regular website traffic is a goal of yours, crafting a positive user experience, or UX, should be part of your web design. Good UX design leaves visitors of your site with a positive impression of your brand and gives them enough to do on your site that they’ll get pulled back to it in the future.
Here’s how to turn that old billboard-like website into one that actually wows current visitors
First thing’s first. If your website is aggressively annoying to use then you’ve shot yourself in the foot before you started. Here is a brief list of things to fix first before you dig deeper:
- Does your website load faster than three seconds?
- Does your website load on mobile devices and tablets correctly?
- Does it have an understandable navigation bar and clear calls-to-action?
- Does it have no annoying popups? (Not all popups are annoying, but it’s hard to pull off)
- Does it have no autoplaying videos or weird animations?
- Are the images real images instead of stock photos?
- Does your web copy avoid keyword stuffing?
- Do you clearly communicate your branding and the value you offer to your customer at the top of the fold?
- Do you respect your visitor’s time, attention, and bandwidth?
Fixing just one of these could cause your bounce rate to drop and engagement to rise. Start by fixing these low-hanging fruit.
Consider The Purpose For Each Page
Think back to the last good movie you watched. If you were to pick it apart, it’s quite likely that there is no wasted material. Every scene in the movie played a part in creating the whole. By the time the movie is done, you’re left with a feeling of satisfaction.
Just like every scene in a good movie has a purpose, every page on your website needs to have a purpose. While this purpose could be phrased as “push the visitor further down the funnel”, a better one is “What benefit can I provide the viewer on this part of the website?”
As your visitors browse through each element of your page and between pages, they are building up an impression of your brand through the copy and the design. If this tugs them in the right direction, they’ll be left with a positive and memorable experience. But if there is something jarring, like the things we listed above, then the experience is ruined just like a bad scene in a movie.
Unlike a movie, however, there are lots of different paths that a visitor can take to get to your conversion points. So how do you keep them from spinning out before you close the deal? In our opinion, the best way to do that is to satisfy their desires and keep visitors curious about what else you can offer.
When someone lands on your site, there is some reason why they came. If you fulfill that reason, great! But if you want them to stick around and go deeper then you need to give them a reason to extend the experience. How exactly you do this will depend on your audience and your business.
For instance, an e-commerce site might use a recommendation engine to show other items that might entice the viewer to keep clicking. A review system could push someone toward a purchase, or at least give them something informative to read so they can find exactly what they need. Blog posts like this one might use internal linking to pull a reader deeper into the conversation.
Whatever path they take, the hope is that when they do leave, conversion or not, they have a positive impression of your brand and a little nugget of desire to get more of what you gave them. It’s fun to go back to Amazon after a few days and see if the recommendations have changed, right?
Modern browsers give us all kinds of fancy bells and whistles, from typefaces to animations. Designers and coders keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible. With smart speakers so popular now, designers are now thinking about how this technology can feed into website designs.
But with all the whiz-bang tech out there, all of the principles have to hold. A clear message and USP, clean interfaces, and a respect for the visitor. Anyone who was looking at the web in the 90s knows just how horrendous bad web design can be with a mix of “cool” colors and fonts (and sound files that play on loading!) that just jarred the viewer.
These tools can be used to keep your UX interesting, but don’t overdo it. Keep it simple. Just like a billboard can get too cluttered to read in the three seconds it takes to drive past it, a website can be just as clogged with fancy stuff.
Keep these essentials in mind and take a look at your website. Do you see anything that could use some sprucing up this year?