Designing your website is the same as designing a business brochure – the same, but different. The way people interact with websites is evolving all the time. As social media starts to change our behaviour we are getting used to scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. So it makes sense for your website to do the same.
How we scroll
Once upon a time, it was perfectly normal and accepted industry practice to have many pages on your website with lots of written words on each page and may be a photo or two and plenty of distraction in side bars and footers.
Asking people to work their way through this maze of information was normal, expected and accepted.
These days with the evolution of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, we love photos and videos which mean we don’t have to spend ages reading a website to find out what we need to know. And we want to know what we want to know and we want to know now!
We are becoming very impatient and studies have shown that concentration spans are shortening, due in part to the instant nature of social media and the interruption factor of emails, messages, text messages, voice messages and general notifications constantly pulling our attention from one thing to the next demanding issue.
If an email comes in we often think we have to respond immediately, and in full. I know I have been guilty of trying to be responsive to multiple emails, messages and notifications simultaneously. Generally, it just doesn’t work!
So when it comes to designing your website, remember that you are competing for your visitors’ attention against probably 5 or 6 other things going on in the background.
Getting their Attention
To even get their attention you need something pretty spunky at the top of your site! And you need to consider their digital journey through your website.
What are your target customers’ key needs and how can you help them solve their problems? Whereabouts on your website do you want them to end up?
My guess is you want them to engage with you at some level, whether it is to buy a product from your online store, to make contact with you via your contact form or to book an appointment through your appointment booking software.
Using a long scroll home page can guide your visitors right through the critical information you need them to know – like:
- what your services or products are
- a little bit about how your business can help them (I wrote about this in more detail here)
- what other people think of your products and services (testimonials);
- how they can get hold of some of the action for themselves.
All of this can be done on one page if you have a savvy web designer who can make the information separate, but cohesively presented, simple to navigate, and easy on the eye
What else does my website need?
Other pages on your website can be reserved for more details about your product or services, more detail about how, when and where you are available and more detail about just about everything you offer. But the home page is not the page for excessive detail.
The Home Page is your street frontage
Think of the first page as the street frontage or your business or an Executive Summary – everything they absolutely must know and the information they need to make a decision to do business with you. Your other pages then become supporting documentation for those visitors who want more information and detail.
When putting together your home page, give plenty of consideration to the images that you use. It’s best to use your own photos, but if you are looking for great stock photos, then there are some excellent sites listed here that you can access for free.
The value of Videos
Think about videos too. Video is a terrific medium to help you convey lots of information in a short time. There are lots of different ways to create videos for your website and you definitely don’t need any high end equipment.
The video quality produced by most up to date phones is quite adequate and you can also use programs like PowerPoint to create short videos from still photos and text.
You can host videos on your YouTube channel, then have them feed from your website.
Ask your designer to turn off auto-play so the sound doesn’t come on as soon as someone hits your website. That’s just annoying and distracting. And no-one wants to get sprung at work watching videos that may not be work related!
Contacts and Business Hours
I have lost track of the number of websites that I have visited for physical stores that don’t have their business hours on their home page – how frustrating to not even know when I can visit and spend money with them! Your business hours are critical for shop front businesses, so make sure they are ‘above the fold’ (the part you see when you first go to the website) at all times.
Phone numbers often end up on the Contact page, but having them on your home page as well will ensure visitors can call you easily. And save them a lot of frustration!
Mobile is King
Most people search websites on their mobile device these days –so make sure your website is mobile responsive – that is, it looks just as good on a mobile as it does on a laptop, PC or tablet. Without that you will be losing a lot of potential customers who will simply go somewhere else.
Make it Easy
There’s certainly plenty to think about when designing your website. Have a look at what your competitors are doing, think about the sites you like when you are looking around, consider the journey that you want prospects and customers to take when they land on your site and design a pathway that keeps them engaged, tells them what you want them to do (Book Now,or Shop Now, Or Contact Us).
Without clear direction and a simple pathway most of us are left floundering and wondering why we have technology at all … and can’t I just give them a ring? If only I could find their phone number …
Found a spelling or grammatical error in this post? Then contact me as soon as possible and let me know. In return for your super proof reading, I will offer you a free 30-minute review of your digital presence and some fresh ideas you can try out for free.
Get in Touch
If you’d like to discuss web design, you can book a free clarity session where I will walk you through a review of your current site and provide a review of its usability, design and functionality.