Is your website more than five years old? That’s an eternity in cyberspace.
More likely than not, you’re falling behind on design trends, which may seem like a trifling thing. But consider: Relative to the bulk of websites out there—the ones whose design has been updated recently—your website may scream “old” to visitors. Or worse—it could say you don’t really know what you’re doing. If your site looks old and dated, visitors may leave.
You can’t overstate the importance of the look of your website.
If a prospect comes upon your website and isn’t immediately grabbed by something visually—you’ve lost them. They’re gone—possibly never to return. The design of your website needs to take hold of site visitors’ eyeballs and encourage them to dig deeper.
What makes for a “grabbing” website design? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer as it’s such a subjective experience for site visitors. However, it’s good to consider the following:
What this means is you’ve decided to use only a small number of colors on your site. These colors are part of your brand (think about the orange of Home Depot).
To give yourself a little more wiggle room, you can determine primary and secondary colors. But too many colors can be disorienting for site visitors. Their eye doesn’t know what to settle on—and they’re gone within milliseconds. The best websites use two or three major colors—and shades of those colors. Look at Apple’s website, for example. It’s mostly white—with colors splashed here and there.
You’ll also want to avoid clashing colors, as some color combinations will cause actual, physical eye strain. Don’t believe me?
It’s called “white space,” but it can be any color. The point is, nothing’s in that space except that color. It’s empty of words, numbers and photos. If every nook and cranny of a webpage is crammed with content, you’ll turn off readers. You need to give your content—the words, numbers and pictures—room to breathe.
What often happens is the small business owner is so proud of his/her business that they tend to, well, gush. Say everything and the kitchen sink about the business. They’re like that relative no one wants to stand next to at the reunion. When everything’s important, nothing’s important.
Overly busy websites crammed with words act as prospect repellant. Pace yourself. Not everything needs to be said at once. You’re trying to build a long-term relationship with site visitors. They can learn all about your features and benefits as they work more with your business.
As mentioned earlier, a webpage—particularly your home page—needs to grab readers. Look here! it needs to scream. One way to do this is to use top-quality so-called “hero images.” A hero image is an oversized image near the top of a webpage. Often, it features one or more humans—the heroes of the image.
Whether or not your image qualifies as a “hero image,” the point is, your webpage should have one point of focus. When the visitors lands at your website, that is the first thing they see. They are grabbed.
Finding and using high-quality images doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In addition to pay-for-use imagery, there are plenty of “free for commercial use” options available, including:
Let’s see how this can all work together.
Based on what has been discussed, can you see where the original site fell short? Simply put, there’s too much going on and no visual hierarchy. The visitor has no idea where to look first.
For the new design, the color palette was updated to something lighter and fresher through the use of blues and yellows. A large, inviting hero image greets visitors, and a visual hierarchy has been established through the use of color, fonts and white space.
So… what to do?
First off, take stock. Be subjective. Be honest. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of employees and customers to get a well-rounded view of what’s working and what isn’t.
- What’s working visually with your current design?
- What’s a turn-off visually?
- What kind of a first impression does it make?
- Is it cluttered?
- Does it inspire you?
- Is the navigation easy to understand and use?
Objectively, what does the data say? Look at your analytics to determine which pages are visited the most. You may be shocked to find that pages you didn’t think were important are generating a decent amount of traffic. Analyze your site over its history in areas such as:
- Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- SEO rankings for important keywords
- Total amount of sales generated
Second, see what your competitors are doing. Imagine you’re a prospect.
- What is it about the look of their sites that grabs your attention?
- Can you borrow the ideas?
- What are they doing visually that just isn’t working?