Designing or revamping your Web site?
Here are some best practices you’ll want to read before getting started!
There is a ton of information out there on copywriting for the Web, designing beautiful sites that your visitors will love and designing sites that will drive the leads and sales you need. Sometimes it can be hard to decipher all of this information. Below is a list of best practices I’ve learned along the way for designing an effective Web site that will please both your customers and your CFO!
Let’s talk about copywriting first.
Rule #1: Every page should have a headline.
Research shows that visitors read the page headline before looking at any image or reading any other text on the page. That means that your headline needs to be compelling so they’ll read further.
Rule #2: Write copy that sells
Don’t bore your readers up front with detailed descriptions of how your product is made or every intricate detail of the product specs, first and foremost tell your reader what’s in it for them. Your copy should be filled with the benefits of purchasing your product or service. You can provide the product details in a secondary position which can be read once they want your product and are anxious to learn more!
Rule #3: Show your value
Your visitors want to know that they are getting a good deal, no matter how much they are paying. Show them the value they are getting from your product and why it is such a good deal. If you are selling something to another business, this value might be a cost-savings to them, less hassle or even a way to help them make more money!
Rule #4: Talk about them not you
Visitors don’t care when you were founded, how large your plant is or how hard you’ve been working to bring them this cool, new product. They care about themselves. Talk about what your product can do for them.
Rule #5: Repeat the important parts
Research shows that we only absorb about 40% of what we read. So, if you have something important to say, say it on your Web page several times. Don’t worry about being redundant; the most important thing is getting your selling message across.
Now that you have the copy written, how do you place it on the page and how do you incorporate images and other graphics to support your message without going overboard?
Having a pretty Web site design is nice but no guarantee that you will convert visits into leads or even sales.
The average visitor will only spend 10 seconds on your site. So, it is critical that they see the information they are looking for and that the benefits stand out immediately.
It is also critical that your site be designed with your customer in mind. If you are the low price leader, then the site should reflect this brand. If your customer is looking for a professional, upscale option, then your site should reflect this type of store.
According to recent research, Web Visitors start at the top left of the page then slowly move to the right. They focus on the text more than the images or graphics. Keep this in mind when placing your headlines and body copy. Also, see the sample Google Heat Map for more information on this below.
Rule #6: Keep it Simple
When placing your text and graphics on your Web site, less is more. Having some white space on the page makes your site easier to navigate and also is visually pleasing. If your site is cluttered, your visitor will leave. Take out any unnecessary graphics that aren’t needed to support your selling message.
Rule #7: Choose your fonts and use them wisely
The most commonly used and easily read fonts for the Web are San-Serif. The rule of thumb is to keep your font between 10 and 14 points. You don’t want your visitors to struggle to read your site but also don’t want it so large that it doesn’t look professional. And, only use two fonts at a time. Less is more when it comes to fonts. A general rule of thumb is to use one font for the headline and subheads and another font for the body copy.
Rule #8: Highlight Keywords
Help your readers see what is important by highlighting keywords in bold or a different color. Avoid light colors as they won’t show up well on a white background.
Rule #9: Break it up
Don’t make your visitor have to work to read your copy. Break your sentences into short, easy to digest sentence. No run-ons! And, break your copy into short, manageable paragraphs. Use headings and sub-heads to call out things that are important.
Rule #10: Use clean backgrounds
You’ve spent a lot of time writing great copy; don’t hide it by designing a background that will compete. Avoid extremely textured backgrounds or backgrounds with distracting images. Also, avoid choosing a background color that closely matches your text color. All of these will compete with your visitor actually reading the copy. They will be distracted.
Rule #11: Watch your colors
Visitors have trouble reading colors like red and yellow as it causes eye fatigue. For most of your text, you really can’t go wrong with black type on a white background.
Rule #12: Use standard navigation
The Internet has been around long enough for Web users to be used to some standards. One of these is navigations. Visitors are used to finding navigations along the top and down the left side. To ensure your site is easy to navigate, you’d be wise to stick with these industry standards.
Rule #13: Avoid scrolling pages
Users’ hate scrolling horizontally and this makes your site look primitive. You should avoid this. They also dislike scrolling vertically so use this sparingly. If you have a lot of information to share, try breaking it up and having the user click to additional pages.
Rule #14: Make your site load fast
Recent research shows that if your visitor can’t get to your site in 5 seconds, they are gone (or at least very annoyed by the time your page does load) Reduce the number of images, flash elements and overall page size to get your page to load faster.
Rule #15: Place your key messages on the hot spots
Google has developed some research and created a sample Web page that visually show the best places to place key messages on a Web page. It is called the Heat Map. This is their view of the hottest spots on a Web page. Of course, every site will be slightly different but this will give you a great place to start. Click here to view the Google Heat Map.
Rule #16: Track and Refine
As with all online marketing programs, the best thing is that you can easily track your visits and clicks and continually refine until you get where you need to be.
Good luck with your new site! By keeping in mind these simple rules, you’ll create a site that is both visually pleasing and will create leads and sales!