Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
Find out how adapting to your users’ needs drives real results for your business.
Are you going to build a website, not just to be online, but to drive real results? Then you'll need more than a pretty design, catchy copy and a few basic pages.
A well-thought-out website can be a conversion magnet for your business—whether it's a direct point of sale or not. Want to create a website that makes your visitors forget all about the competition? Here are five essential things to incorporate or keep in mind.
Can’t wait to get started? Here are the five tips, summarized:
- Formulate a strategy for your website, so it will actually contribute to your business’s goals. Knowing what you want your website and its visitors to do will greatly impact the design process.
- Create a user-centered design. Rather than making a great-looking design and seeing how users respond to it later, turn the process around. Find out what your visitors want to see and let your design skills build on that.
- Go beyond mobile-friendly. We’re always scrolling, swiping and shopping—wherever we are. Be ready to impress your website visitors, even if they ‘’only’’ see your store or website on a relatively small screen. Keep on reading to find out how much that actually pays off.
- Make it interactive to add personalization. Don’t market to the masses, but speak to each website visitor individually to find out what they want. This will help you create and showcase the most relevant content that drives conversion.
- Add valuable content, and keep adding it. You don’t just write blogs and guides for SEO: in the end, it could be what makes a visitor decide to buy your products. Invest time in this and give it a prominent place during the creation process of your website.
1. Create a strategy for your website
Be honest: why are you creating a website in the first place? Now think about your answer again. And again. Do this until you know what return of investment you’re looking for from your website. It’s probably more than ‘’increased visibility’’. Why not go for increased sales?
A website can be so much more than an online display window or business card. You can and should approach it as the possible first interaction, first conversation potential customers have with your business. What will be your pitch? What will you be wearing? This will be the copy and design of your website.
But before that, you should map out clear, measurable objectives for your website. What do you want it to do for your business? How will you incorporate it in your sales process? Will it pay off to integrate it with a CRM, so you could save money on customer service and boost sales?
To reach those goals, create a strategy for your website. This goes beyond having a homepage, a page for your services or products and a contact form. Map out exactly what scenarios your buyer personas could find themselves in and then create a structure and pages to help them through it.
2. Create a user-centered design
If you want to create a site that your visitors can't stop thinking about, make it all about them.
Instead of creating a website and testing how users react to it afterwards, you use the users’ needs and wishes in every stage of the process. By asking the right usability testing questions you’ll be able to create a website that doesn't just look great, but works flawlessly as well.
What does the process of user centered design look like?
UCD is an iterative process that combines investigative methods like surveys with generative ones, such as brainstorming.
So, which comes first? The UCD approach actually has a pretty structured process, that can be divided into four phases.
- Understanding the context: how will people be using the website? What is the goal of the website? How can you make that match?
- Identify user requirements: what will make users happy and what is unnecessary and distracting?
- Design and development of solutions: how can you make everything from step 1 and 2 become reality?
- Evaluation phase: does what we make match with what the users needed, and what will contribute to our goals?
What’s the ROI of user centred design?
It’s a lengthy process that requires partnerships between everyone involved: from engineers to designers, to copywriters and customer support. But in the end, all this extra effort will pay off.
When the end users are more involved in the designing of a website, you make sure their needs are met. This can lower the costs of customer service because there are simply fewer questions on where to find what.
3. Go beyond mobile-friendly
As of February 2021, mobile has taken the lead in internet usage. Market share for mobile traffic has hit 55 percent. That means it makes sense to invest in a website that works seamlessly on smartphones.
Does mobile really matter that much?
The critical thinkers will say that stats like visitors don't necessarily contribute to the success of your business. They’re right. So, let’s look at some numbers that matter.
For now, the size of a shopping cart, time spent on a website and conversion rates are higher for desktop than mobile, but smartphones are rapidly catching up.
Desktops have a conversion rate of 4.81%, and mobile ‘only’ has 2.25%. The average total item count of an order is 24% higher on a desktop than a smartphone. But do the math: it would nevertheless be a waste to ignore those possible buyers and sales.
Creating a website for smartphone users
Many businesses solely create a ‘’smaller’’ version of their full website for smartphone users. But when looking at the data, you’ll see you need more changes.
It’s important to create a website that isn't necessarily friendly to mobile phones, but friendly to the people using them. For that, keep the following things in mind:
- The flow between your webpages. Having to click a lot of links and having to switch between separate pages can slow users down and ultimately drive them away.
- Your copy. Be even more concise and straightforward in the copy for your mobile website than you are in the desktop version. Long paragraphs don't work on small screens. On big screens either, by the way.
- The same goes for images and videos: make sure that they fit the screen but still show everything you want to see. If that doesn't work, simply choose different images.
- Buttons and pop-ups: drop-down menus and the likes don’t always work on mobile phones. Test what does work when you are designing.
4. Make it interactive to add personalization
How amazing would it be to enter an online shop or website and feel like it was made for you? While creating a unique page for every visitor might still be a bridge too far, you can definitely add more personalization to your website. The key? Interactive content.
With polls and quizzes on your website, you can get to know your visitors more than when you’d just leave them browsing. It is a fun way of finding out how you can help them best, and in the most successful cases, these visitors won't even realize that they contributed to their own personalized website.
You can use tools like Typeform to create quizzes that seamlessly integrate with your websites design.
The power of personalization
What would a personalized website look like? You could show better recommendations based on a shopper’s answer. It even enables you to highlight special offers that this specific visitor is likely to be interested in.
Personalization is more than a nice touch, it’s a true conversion booster. If done right, personalized product recommendations can increase click-throughs by more than 100%, compared to generic product recommendations. In terms of cash, the most basic personalization can already give your sales an 8% uplift.
Since 38% of consumers say they won’t go back to an online shop that recommends products that don’t make sense for them, you can push all content and products they’re not here for to the background. This will create an easy-to-navigate and focussed experience.
5. Add valuable content. Over and over again.
Give your target audience a real reason to visit your website, over and over again. Don’t just think about the story you want to tell. You might be eager to share your latest ideas and inventions, or slip into jargon to show you’re an expert.
But more than anything, you should focus your content around the questions your visitors will have. What answers are they looking for when coming to your website?
Don’t try to impress, try to educate
Adding a blog, knowledge base, FAQs, software projects documentation and downloadable resources is a great way to guide your visitors through each phase of the buying process. You’ll be able to educate them with the information that’s right in that moment, making it feel like you created this content just for them.
Not unimportant: this kind of content also does your SEO a favor. That means that even more people will be seeing that awesome website you’ve created.
Keep them coming back for more
This is not a one-time thing that you can implement during the initial creation of your website. Instead, it should be an ongoing practice. That’s what will keep users coming back: knowing there’s something more to discover every week, every month.
Moreover, all this fresh content won't go unnoticed by all the big search engines either. If they see that your content is relevant and recent, it will seriously boost your results in the rankings.
Are you ambitious enough to build a website like this?
It’s exciting to see that more and more businesses, small and big, are unlocking the true potential of business websites. By putting more time in the design phase, you could get visitors to spend more time on your website—and possibly more money.
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