Custom web design is kind of like the experience you have at a local restaurant…
As you approach the restaurant, you notice that their outdoor sign is only half lit-up and the other half is blinking awkwardly < in the evening darkness. The door creaks as you yank it open and you are quickly waved over to a nearby table sitting against a side wall. Menus, sticky from being handled by greasy fingers, are slapped onto the table and the waiter disappears. The fish and chips you order are a bit soggy and bland, and you leave the establishment disappointed, purposing to forget the experience.
On an evening the next week…
As you approach the restaurant, you’re impressed by the landscaping and well swept walkway. The door is opened for you by a smiling customer exiting the establishment, who whispers, “Great food, and be sure to order the crème brulée!” You’re greeted by a cheerful waitress who asks you where you’d prefer to sit. The menus are pristine and well designed. The pasta dish you order is hot and creamy, and, of course, you try the crème brulée. At your next work party, you rave about the restaurant’s quality, atmosphere, service, and great food.
Going to a Website is like Going to a Restaurant
Believe it or not, visiting a website is like eating at a restaurant. People form opinions and perspectives about your business by the layout you’ve designed, the colors you use, the content you publish, and the offers you provide. If they have a great experience, they will tweet about you, post about you, follow you, friend you, and visit you over and over again.
Your website is the first place you will meet your potential buyers, and you want to receive them both personally and professionally.
An interactive, educational, personal, unique website is the core of an inbound marketing strategy. Before we dive into the tactics behind an inbound marketing site, we will first discuss the basic elements any seattle web design should exhibit.
Any Website Should…
Have a Clean and Consistent Layout
- Attractive first impression
- Modern and creative styling relevant to your audience
- Organized spacing of page elements and text
- Present intuitive navigation
- Common pages (Home, About us, Services, Contact, Blog, etc)
- Easy sub-category organization (Short titles, short lists, relevant pages.)
- Use a creative but controlled color palette
- Use primary and secondary color strategies
- Use creativity of design to attract attention instead of employing a variety of colors.
- Enrich and develop the company brand
- Logo, coordinated with site header
- Site design and content well-represents the company
- Provide content that reinforces the brand
- Pages contain relevant content to company goals and offerings
- Be optimized for search engines
Interested parties should find:
A website design that embodies these qualities does well. A designer following an inbound marketing strategy, however, hasn’t even come halfway. It’s a good website design now, but we can make it better.
Stop Fishing and Start a Parade
The design of an inbound marketing site revolves around the overall approach of an inbound marketing agency. Consider the following analogies.
A fisherman baits his hook with an attractive product or service and tosses it into a random heap of people, hoping to catch an interested party that will bite the sales pitch on the first approach. The fisherman isn’t looking for a fish to nibble at the bait in consideration. His success is defined by a “hook, line, and sinker” catch. Any spectating fish that witness the sale swim away in fear and trepidation, prepared to forevermore avoid that fisherman.
A parade attracts the public’s attention and provides an ongoing show. People come to you to see what all the fuss is about, and they come back to see what’s new. Parades are an always moving flow of content, and different aspects of the show attract various types of people. At the end of the day, the parade has entertained spectators of all ages and interests, living all types of lifestyles. It’s an event worth tweeting about.
No one is tweeting about the fisherman.
The fisherman is an example of an outbound marketing strategy. The outbound sales process tries to catch people with a clever sales pitch after issuing a barrage of information about the merits of their company’s product or service, regardless of whether or not their prospect actually wants to listen. Salesmen want to sell to people far worse than people want to buy from the salesman. Fish and fishermen don’t become friends on Facebook.
Instead, your company’s inbound marketing website design should be a parade. Viewers should have a great experience at your site, and the ongoing show should keep coming back for more. Your fans will follow you and bring their friends. At the end of the day, your prospects will be more motivated to buy from you because you are less fanatical about selling to them.
Design smartly, and just wait. The conversions will come.
Let’s make a parade. Here’s how you do it.
1. Ten seconds to make a first impression
Among new acquaintances, it generally takes seven seconds to make a first impression. Website viewers are generally nice enough to afford you ten seconds. They will decide whether they will stay or leave by the time their internal clock counts to ten. Then they will go find a website that captures their interest.
2. Trendy Designs
- Simple and straightforward
- Flat circles
- Block designs (without bevel, emboss, or shadows)
- Thin, san-serif fonts (no dressed-up, serif fonts)
- Brackets [around titles or subtitles]
- Sub-menus use a set of similarly styled icons
- Lighter fade hover effects
- Content, content, content
- New, Moving Content – You never want your viewer to run out of content to view on your site. If they know they’ve seen it all, they probably won’t come back.
- Make sure new, quality content is always appearing on your site. Generally, this is accomplished in the form of a company blog.
- Viewer-Focused Content – Gear your website design towards your viewer instead of towards your business. Don’t talk at people like a salesman. No one likes to be talked at. People prefer to be talked to.
Create a personalized experience
The most effective websites connect with the viewer on a personal level. In a sense, they can tell your business wants to talk with them. Impress their eyes, enhance their self-image, empathize with their feelings, affirm their perceptions, encourage their imagination, and lend substance to their dreams. This may seem like a tall order, but take some time to step inside your prospective buyer’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. Find the things that are important to them and design your site’s attitude and content in a way that communicates that you agree with them.
Develop a platform of communication
To continue the process of talking with your prospect, you need a way to stay in contact with them. Invite them to like you on Facebook, add you on Google plus, follow you on Twitter, or subscribe to your blog or monthly newsletter. Offer an email sign-up for coupons, deals, or new product announcements. Find easy, no-risk ways to keep your viewers willingly coming back to you.
Display compelling Call-To-Action points
“Call-To-Action” points (or CTAs), are offers that prompt a responsive action from your viewer. Even a small, riskless action will turn your viewer in the direction of eventual commitment. You may have a brilliantly designed site. Your site may contain engaging content. Your site may offer a personal experience. Your viewers may love your site. Give them an action to take.
Types of CTA’s
- No-Risk CTA – Follow on twitter, like on facebook, subscribe to email blasts, free quotes
Your viewers may like what they see but may not be ready to buy. A no-risk CTA provides an action option that doesn’t require any monetary reciprocation. They won’t have to pay you a cent or spend any time. Your prospects will click this button.
- Low-Risk CTA – Trial packages, coupon deals, free consultation
Your viewer wants to test the waters and try your product or service. These options will cost your viewer a little bit of time or money, requiring a lesser amount of commitment than a straight-up, all-in purchase. Give your viewers a way to throw out a few small bets before you ask them to toss all their chips on the board. Your leads will click this button.
- High-Risk CTA – The “Purchase Here” or “Order Now” button
Your buyers will click this button.
Optimize for Conversion
- Clear, Clipped, and Catchy Headlines
- Use a headline. Make it clear. Keep it short – and most importantly, it should catch the attention of your viewers.
- Clever Call-To-Action Strategies
- Clarify your CTA’s – If your viewer has to wonder what is on the other side of a button, they’re less likely to click it. Create unique call-to-action buttons that don’t say, “Sign-Up” or “Subscribe Now!” Instead, provide a longer, detailed button that says, “Fill out our quote form!” or “Subscribe to our email blasts!”
- Colors, Containers and Visual Indicators – Users are more likely to complete a CTA if it is presented as a button or inside a container. Also, use a different color to set your CTA apart from the other page elements and then accent it with visual cues like arrows or text that says “Start here!”
Make Use of Landing Pages
A landing page is a page specifically designed for a viewer to “land” on and convert directly. It is a page with an obvious Call-To-Action, prompting the user to respond. According to statistics, 68% of business-to-business sites are utilizing landing pages as a method of gaining conversions.
Think above the fold
“The fold” is the threshold at the bottom of the browser window where the page disappears. If a page element is “below the fold,” the viewer must scroll down to see it. When a site loads, you want all of your important page elements to be “above the fold,” especially your CTA buttons.
Use a HUGE FONT to display your phone number, and put it at the top of the page. If a viewer must dig through your website to find your contact information, it will not foster a perception of easy, open, and inviting lines of communication between you and your leads.
Choose photos wisely
The assertion that “People like pictures!” is true, but people don’t like just any picture. Be wary about using typical stock photos; rather, only select images that fit perfectly with your goals. “Oh, it’s just a nice photo,” doesn’t cut it anymore.
Riskless buzz words
“Get FREE access!”
“Request a FREE quote!”
“DISCOUNT trial package!”
Testimonials – No, the real ones
Only include testimonials with these two qualities:
- Reference direct association with individual, company, or product. – “This is a good product.” vs. “I purchased a StayHot Thermos last month and have used it ever since!”
- Include details of personal experience rather than mere opinion. – “I make coffee in my StayHot Thermos at 7:00am every morning, and it’s still toasty warm at 2:00 in the afternoon!” – Kelly Martin, Seattle WA
- The Conversions Will Come
If you find yourself marching your parade down Main Street and not attracting many followers in the first twenty-four hours, don’t beat yourself up. Attracting a crowd takes time. Even though the salesman next door might have caught a fish by the end of the day, the benefit of your strategy will pay off in the long run. Inbound marketing coaches often discuss the fact that an inbound marketing strategy takes time to get off the ground. However, with skillful implementation and persistent maintenance, you will begin to land conversions. In the mean time, analyze what types of content and page elements generate the most activity on your site and work to enhance those features.
Start a parade that people will tweet about. And good luck on the road to conversions.