5 Tips for Creating Compelling Website Pages

 

 

tips for creating compelling website pagesYour website, the hub, homebase and receiver of all search queries, local optimization efforts, social media marketing as well as traditional advertising. That is a lot of pressure and to think there are still many businesses that do not have a website seems unimaginable. Is this the product of the high unemployment rates where we are seeing a surge in more small businesses being created or a reflection of the economy and lack of funds? Maybe it is not that involved and as much as we gasp, it could be that they just do not feel that they need one. It sounds maddening to us as we spend such an incredible amount of time online that when we see someone on Twitter without a website, we wonder why. It is so easy to create a site that there are no real excuses but yet while it may be easy to throw up some pages are they compelling? Are they worth visiting and better yet, worth visiting again? Are they worthy of Google or Bing giving them the nod of a front page feature?

The Role of a Website

The role of a website is to attract new visitors, engage them and keep them long enough so that they buy. This is not that difficult of a conclusion to come to as we are in business to make money and our website is a contributing factor or plays a pivotal role in our overall marketing plan and execution thereof. How we execute the advertising and marketing plan is what makes us successful; unless of course the plan is flawed. The goals for a website generally focus on traffic as we are so eager and in need of a number that the real purpose of the website that will help to define the goals gets overlooked. Yes, we want the website to bring in traffic and perform well, but how? How do you plan on accomplishing this? It is not a 7-11 where you build it and they will come. If it were that easy, I would not be here night after night blogging and neither would you. We would be off on our yacht or in a cabin in the mountains enjoying the world as we raked in the bucks from all the visitors. I digressed … a late night dream moment of being on the high seas drifting.

5 Tips for Creating Compelling Website Pages

1. Platform & Theme. I would be doing a great disservice if I did not recommend WordPress for a self-hosted website. The ease of creating a WordPress site coupled with the semi- customizable and fully customizable themes/child themes make it the most functional, flexible and user friendly platform. The look of the site is what they are met with and see first upon visiting. Having a site that looks like less than professional sends a message. The design may not be as appealing to everyone however the platform in which it resides effects the user experience.

2. Design. The design some say is not that big of a deal. I may be biased however, a site that is clean, neat and designed with how the visitors will view the site through white space, photos/graphics lends itself to reflect upon the business structure and the importance they give to establishing their presence online. As a general rule, a site needs to be:

a) Easy to Navigate. This is critical as not everyone is arriving at the home page. Navigation needs to be present on all pages.

b) Easy to Read. Straight and to the point with search teams and utilization of industry standards/visitor association and lingo. We see this often where a site is filled with industry terms that seem foreign to the visitors. Talk with them in a manner in which they can understand and relate to. The idea is to have them read the page, comprehend and absorb the information to assist them in their buying decision.

c) Search Engine Friendly. Pages should be easy to find in search engines, directories or on industry related sites. People want to go directly to the page they search information for. If they do not land on the page they were seeking through their query, they will click off. Guide them accordingly by the flow of the information contained on the pages. Keep the pages simple with one core element as the foundation of the page and interlink to the pages that carry that element and provide more information. This allows the search engines to crawl and rank effectively.

d) Consistent in layout and design. Sites should be consistent from page to page with by incorporating the corporate identity and utilizing proper use of white space. If they click on the pages that are contained within the sub-menus will they know it is still your site? We are starting to see less and less where the pages are not consistent with more sites being built on a platform that affords a shell; however from time to time, I still see some popping up.

e) Quick to download. Each page should download in  just a seconds. The longer the download time, the more time afforded to click off.

3. Layout. The layout was discussed above, however embellishing on that a bit, the layout of the pages whether they be a single, 2 or 3 column with sidebars and widgets need to be balanced. If there is too much going on, visitors get overwhelmed as the page is just so busy. The column number can vary as on a blog we may have a 3 column on the blog whereas on an internal page, a 2 column may suffice. The photos are not only nice to look at, they also serve as an attraction to that portion of the page. Photos draw attention and pay off the content. Again, the photos do not need to be in the same place on each page, and actually this is not really recommended, but remaining mindful of the direction you want their eyes to go guides them and allows them to focus on what you want them to. The location of the menu bar and the order in which they appear matters. Visitors are expecting the Contact Us to be last. When it is mixed in, they are unable to find it. Having conducting a research study a few years ago, only 25 out of 250 participants were able to find the contact in the menu bar when it was not last. Most clicked the wrong button as they did not even as much as read what was contained in the last button.

4. Content. The content! Pretty much the content is the most important when we talk about creating compelling website pages. The site can be the most beautiful site we have ever seen, have a fantastic navigation but if the content is lacking, the success of the site diminishes. We know how important the content is however we are seeing where many sites are underperforming. Recently it was discussed about About Us pages and what should be contained on these pages. Each page serves a purpose alone and then collectively.

a) Home Page. The home page is your introduction and serves to spotlight front and center in a very precise manner exactly what you do. You cannot leave them guessing and this runs the risk of them being confused as to why they are on your site or worse, not have them do what you are asking of them. This is not to be a novel. Think of sites that you have visited (the good and the bad) and look at the ones that you felt were the best performing. Generally these have a brief but  comprehensive description in the header or contained in a widget with a strong yet simple call to action. A simple Contact Us Today button in a eye catching color can be all that is needed.

b) About Us. This was discussed a bit more in depth in How We Merchandise and Derek Halpern’s video. Yes, visitors want the back and inside story however they also need to know what YOU can do for them. This is different than the overall site, this is you speaking to them one on one. We can look at this and argue that the site as a whole is speaking to them one on one but there is something about the About Us page that we relate to just the person/people themselves. It is not just the photos, or the lovely bios, it is more than that. It is a connection that we attach to them on that page. Make the most out of this connection and sit across from them and let them know in your own words what you can do for them.

c) Products/Services. This is not as sexy as the other 2 pages but yet provide an in-depth explanation of your products and services. Again, not a novel but this/these pages afford you an opportunity to give them the benefits, features, create the need and want and lead them to the sale. Do not overload this with information or to many products or services as this gives them to many options, options that they suddenly do not need.

d) Blog. The blog many times is what drives them to the site; especially from the social sites. Not everyone needs a blog and not everyone should have one however a blog feeds the search engines their lunch and dinner with fresh and relevant content. I always see Google as the plant Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors when he tells Seymour, “Feed Me!” The blog needs to fit the goals of business, establish its own goals at the same exceed expectations of the audience. It just cannot exist to exist for a business.

e) Contact Us/Work With Us. Sitting opposite anchor from the Home Page, this is your money page literally and figuratively. This is the last stop you want them to make but also take the action and buy. You have one last shot to convince them you are it for them and they need to buy right now. A FAQ page works well when linked to the contact page as if they have any last minute questions, they can click on that and then flip back to buy. Is a money back guarantee important, is a discount or is it enough to have a softer call to action push? TEST! That is the only way you can determine what your audience wants.

5. Landing Pages. Landing page are pages that are high performers when targeted correctly. A new product or service, a special or something that is a one sale item. These pages are capture and action pages that are receivers of the traffic from PPC campaigns, sidebar widgets and emails. Their sole and exclusive purpose is to get visitors to buy. Visitors are not exposed to any other pages except for the menu bar above for consistency so that they are certain it is the same company. Landing pages are single column pages that contain bullets for easy reading and only focus on one single action. Simple and single.

Most introductions and interactions happen off of your website. The social platforms allow us to mingle as if we are at a big cocktail party or a conference. This interaction drives them to your website as they are curious and need to find out more. We see here how your interactions and engagement on off site platforms become important and hold more value/worth. Each time someone sees your avatar fly by on Twitter, status updates on Facebook or LinkedIn (in groups and answering questions as well) or in forums, they are being introduced or being further exposed to you. It is walking advertisement as what you put out there is important to them and not as much to you. The more you talk about you, the less they come around. The more you give them more of you through what you share gives them insight into what you are reading, what interests you and what you are staying on top of (and this includes writing the blog). The power of your website is not always felt until we start to take a closer look at it see how it can perform better and turn it into a highly converting site.

photo credit: kiewic

  • As I often say, and I am happy you think alike, content isn’t everything, but it’s often how you present it that really makes the difference. If you offer the best content in the world but you enclose it in a iframe, flash-based website with green, yellow and acid pink colors spattered all over weeeell, I doubt I am going to be there to take a look at it.

    • Gabriele

      It is how you present it, I do strongly agree. In the sequence here that I was writing, I thought that design was given a lot of weight as a crappy design is not going to present even the best of the best copy. But, at the same time, a beautiful design will not help crappy copy.

       

  • Pretty insightful post, thanks for sharing it Suzanne. Content does draw the traffic in most of the time, although a great layout in general keeps the visitor “engaged” in your site’s environment.

    •  I like the way that you say that “engaged in your site’s environment” – as it is so true. It is hard to be on a site that is so not user friendly from the design aspect. I get distracted reading the content however when the content is mediocre and the design is good, I find myself getting admiring the design.

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