Step by Step Marketing for Small Businesses
Human designed websites
There are websites and then there are good websites. There are many sites that look nice but they are not good websites. So, what makes a GOOD website?
I came into web design from an interesting direction. I earned a degree in architecture and then practiced it for many years. Back in school one famous architect we focused on was Le Corbusier. He was famous, among other reasons, for declaring that form follows function. This was drilled into us all the time.
Amazingly, this design guideline applies to so many areas including web design. There is truly a “function” to web design. When designing a website, we don’t just want a visitor to wander around and eventually say “yes I want to buy something,” or “this is not for me.” We want to direct the visitor to follow a given path. This is the “function” of the website. if the visitor deviates from the path we have set up then we need to rework the design. So how do we do this?
1. Design for the visitor
As soon as a visitor enters your site they create an impression. Is the menu where they expect it to be? Is the purpose of the site clear right from the beginning? Do I know where to go? All these questions are asked and answered instantly. So, did our website succeed?
If our site did not succeed then let’s ask some probing questions. Here are some common problems websites face.
is this clickable?
Let’s go back to the “function” and make sure the website “form” follows it. Is every button on our site clearly designed as clickable or does it blend in. all these buttons should be clearly designed by changing color or font or size. Separate the button from the other information. There are many ways to call attention to it so make it easy to see.
“You’re not in Kansas anymore”
Consistency is the name of the game. Make sure that you follow a consistent look thru out your website. don’t move the menu location between pages. Keep colors and fonts consistent. There should be a consistent design “language” on each page of your site.
Is my eyesight going?
Make sure that fonts and images are large enough to be easily read. If the text is too small then it may as well not be there. What is the target audience of your website? if your site will be geared toward an older generation then make the text larger than normal. Are you posting images with a lot of text? If so make sure the image is also large enough and clear enough to be legible. Remember a frustrated visitor is not going to stick around
2. Make your design emotional
Remember how your mom always told you not to shop on an empty stomach? Ever wonder why red cars have higher insurance rates? Its because these things play on our emotions? Now that you know this, make sure to use this to your advantage. I have a client I talked with just yesterday that said many times that he wants his website to show that he is a fun guy. So rather than being stagnant and rigid, we are going to throw some extra little bits of humor into the site. This doesn’t mean that I am hiding Waldo somewhere on the site (even though that could be fun too). This means that we may have some bolder colors mixed in and some images with their own character. So what kind of emotion do you want visitors to feel.
“want something playful”
Then use bright colors, smooth shapes, funny characters and maybe even throw in some jokes or comics.
“how about something outdoorsy”
Make sure to use earthy colors, rough textures and add Smokey the bear somewhere on the site.
Just make sure the look and feel of the site follows the emotions that you want.
I remember there has been few times that I actually surprised my wife with her gift. On her last birthday I got her tickets to Imagine Dragons which she had wanted to see for quite a while. She was quite surprised. What if you could do the same for your visitors? Can you throw in a funny popup periodically or add animations when you hover over certain things? What can you do to make your site different from all the rest?
One trend that has been pretty fun is adding some humor to your site’s 404 page.
“Keep it positive”
There is nothing worse that listening to someone complain. Make sure that your posts stay positive and make your visitor feel warm and fuzzy.
Some other ideas include:
Adding smiley faces when a page is complete
Add progress bars in multi-page forms
Give them a star when the form is filled out correctly
Remember when I talked about directing your visitor thru your site? In a way you are telling your visitor a story. This does not mean that you lock them into only one path thru the site, but it does mean that you want them to visit certain pages when they are done with others. When they see your products, you want them to go to the check out page rather than the about page. This way you are more likely to make the sale. Do you want them to go to the contact page after…? You can certainly design to encourage exploring the site, but at the end of all key pages make sure they know where to go. Make sure that you write the story (site map) before you start so they will follow where you want.