By now you know that your website is the most important thing you need to achieve digital marketing success, and its effectiveness in converting interests into customers depend heavily on the quality of the content that you put onto it.
Subsequently, we also explored the significance and impact of having good calls-to-action (CTAs) and offers as part of the mix in creating an effective website.
In this fifth and final part of the series, we look at the aesthetic glue that binds all of these elements together, that of design and layout.
Missed the earlier articles? Read them by clicking the links below:
The design and layout of a website at its simplest, is the visual presentation and arrangement of all the elements on it - encompassing text and images, rich media, forms, interactive functions and so on - that makes up the user experience when visiting and using the website.
Commonly misinterpreted by business operators and even agencies within the industry to mean that a website needs to be a visual feast, with bells and whistles such as animations thrown in, nothing can be further from the truth.
While we are not encouraging hastily (or even badly) designed websites to be accepted, the fact of the matter is that a website’s design and layout actually has more to do with information flow and the optimisation of the user’s journey than anything else.
Ultimately, for a website to enjoy superior conversion rates, the underlying requisite is that site visitors can get the answers that they’re looking for quickly and easily.
Making sure that the users can reach their destinations and find what they’re looking for with the least amount of effort, without confusion nor frustration, is what the design and layout is all about.
What makes a good website design?
As we’ve been saying many times over, the ultimate goal of an effective website is to generate conversions, be it leads or sales.
By this definition, a good website design is simply an optimal visual arrangement of the website’s elements that helps drive towards its conversion goals.
Let’s face it: more and more people around the world are spending more time on their smartphones than laptops or desktop computers, be it at work or in their personal time.
In 2018, more than half of the world’s online traffic was generated through mobile phones. 3 in 5 consumers check their emails on the go and more than 70% of all emails received were first opened on a smartphone.
Google has also announced that search results moving forward will be “mobile-first”, which means your website’s search engine ranking performance will be first and foremost based on the mobile version instead of the conventional desktop one.
If your existing website does not have a mobile-friendly view, it has to be rectified immediately. If you do not have a website yet, start planning one with the mobile user experience as the priority consideration.
Having a mobile version of your website is more than just a re-arrangement of the text and images to fit into a smaller viewing window.
Website usage on a mobile phone tends to be more function-driven and search-specific. This means that you should hide away or downplay elements that are more for aesthetic intentions when on mobile.
Clean and structured
When designing an effective website, we always start with identifying the end goal: which is to convert site visitors into leads, enquiries or direct paying customers.
With that objective in mind, we work backwards through the user experience that the prospect has to go through, eliminating unnecessary steps along the way, while streamlining the rest, to build a path-to-purchase that delights your site visitors with relevance, ease and convenience all at the same time, thereby improving the checkout/conversion rates and ultimately your bottom line.
This is an exercise in discipline and simplicity. Do not add any unnecessary visual elements simply for the sake of adding. When it comes to effective website design, less is definitely more.
Stick to conventions
A large part of website design and layout has less to do with aesthetic appeal but rather more about human behaviour.
Instead of trying to break the norms and “stand out” from the rest, this is one area where you want to stick religiously to well-established viewing conventions.
People feel lost and confused when presented with situations that they are unfamiliar with. And when people are unfamiliar with something, they tend not to proceed or take action. This will negatively impact your website’s ability to connect and convert your audience.
According to eye tracking studies, people scan computer screens in an “F” pattern, from left to right and then top to bottom. The rightmost area of the screen is rarely noticed.
Make sure you design the website to suit the natural viewing and reading behaviour of your audience and show your information in order of importance according to the “F” viewing flow.
Wrapping it all up
With a plethora of tools, techniques and tricks out there touted by every marketer from the east to the west, one can very often lose sight of the basics and the objective that truly matters.
The Google PPC ads, the Facebook engagement campaigns, sponsored Instagram stories and so on, these are all the various moves that you can execute to hit your targets depending on the situation that arises.
As useful as these tactical instruments are, remind yourself that these are only means to your strategic end, which is always to capture customers on the platform that you have absolute control over.
Your website is the most important weapon for your digital marketing success
It will always be your own website, with high quality content, effective calls-to-action, compelling brand and product offers, masterfully integrated and presented in a streamlined user experience, that forms the bedrock from which all your subsequent branding and marketing initiatives are launched.
If you are serious about digital marketing in this year, start by making sure that you have the most kickass website that you can have, so that when you go out and hit your objectives, you don’t miss.