You’ve seen a bad website – right? Whether you are trained in usability and online user experience (UX) or not, you’ve likely used a clunky or difficult website. (There’s even a whole host of websites dedicated to chronicling to bad websites!)
I’ve talked to many businesses who want a more effective website – perhaps they want it to help them acquire new customers or bring back current customers again and again. Sound familiar? Here are few tips to consider that will help your website offer an even more positive experience and engage customers.
Let’s start with this question: How well is content displayed on each page of your website? Here are 2 key points to consider.
1. Make it easy for customers to find what they want
The best way to represent your company online is with a compelling and clear presentation – something that is quickly readable so customers can find what they want. Keep your site clean, clear and professional. This includes clear labels, buttons and headlines.
When your website is easy to use and has great content, your site visitors will be more likely to come back – or tell their friends. Avoid clutter – too many photos, too much text, too many different formats of text, competing buttons. Also, avoid using all capital letters because it comes across as shouting (the same rule applies to exclamation points).
Remember, site visitors will decide in 3 seconds if they like your site. Not sure what they are most hoping to find on your site? Start by looking at search engine referrals and keywords that are recorded in your website traffic logs (then look at how well your content matches their keywords/ interest).
2. Make each page easy for the eye to scan
This point is about content format and length. Typically, customers want to quickly scan a page and find what they want without having to read paragraphs of copy. When it’s difficult for customers to find what they want, they will leave and go elsewhere.
Here is a page that is easy to scan (notice headlines with images and brief descriptions): fastcompany.com. The eye can quickly scan down and look for keywords of interest in headlines.
Have a website geared to services? A good idea is to make a brief compelling headline at the top of the page (this invites the reader to scroll down the page or click to read more). Then if you want to include more text below, that’s fine. For the content below the headline use simple and clean formatting that offers emphasis where needed. One good idea is to use bulleted lists or pick one accent color for key points. This allows your customers to easily pick up on your salient points.
The guiding principle I suggest for content presentation and length is: “sip/cup/bath.” This means offer customers a sip first and let them decide if they want to a cup or to take a bath and swim around in even more of your content.
Sip refers to length – offer a small amount of content and let customers who want to – get more information. Don’t barrage them with tons of content to read when they just want a sip and they will choose when to go further. It isn’t just younger generations that want less content to wade through – it’s anyone who is time pressed, which is basically everyone.
This can be done by putting the bath content a click away. For example, put the sip at the top of the page and then a cup below it and then click if you want the bath level of content.
Another important point about creating a compelling website is creating good contrast that is clean and easy to view. Web design principles do vary from print design principles because computers are backlit and that changes readability. One example is to avoid dark backgrounds with light text (or low contrast like white lettering on orange backgrounds).