One of the biggest problems that many of our customers have is in figuring out how to create compelling websites which actually get sales. Many people seem to be under the mistaken impression for example that a ‘fancy’ looking website is going to make all the difference and get people to buy from them. While you obviously don’t want a web site which looks like amateur hour, being ‘pretty’ doesn’t necessarily get you sales. Here are 7 secrets of good website design which will drive more sales:
Chuck the Splash Page
I’m seeing this less and less often these days but still, I see it often enough that this is worth mentioning. Too many people seem to think that a bunch of slick looking flash in the landing page is going to make all the difference in getting their customers to buy a product from them. In reality, what these things do is to line the pockets of graphic designers and drive away customers.
First of all, most splash pages are made using either Flash or Java or a combination of both. Now I will admit that these things look really cool. They make it seem as if your company has a lot of money and a very sophisticated website. This even used to be true once upon a time – people would see this kind of website and immediately decide that this was a stable company.
These days though, people are much more interested in getting to the point than they are in being impressed. The faster your website loads and gets them where they want to get to, the more likely they are to actually want to make a purchase from you of whatever it is that you have for sale.
Plus, flash and Java are still largely unreadable by Google which means that you are that much less likely to see your web pages indexed by Google and ranking highly. Bottom line, put your wallet away, tell the graphic designer to skip the splash page and simply build you a good looking website which gets the basic point across. You’ll be much happier and see sales rise a result.
BTW, here’s a good example of going overboard in trying to be too cute with a fancy splash page.
I always mention this when I write about web design because I believe it is the single most important thing that anyone can do. Keep it Simple Stupid. The basic idea is not to make your website too complicated. As I said above, when people come to see your website, the thing they want the most is to be able to find the thing they are looking for and then move on with their lives.
Of course, at the same time, you want to ensure that people will buy whatever it is that you have for sale. In other words, make it easy to find what your customers are looking for while at the same time offering them good content which will make them want to make a purchase from you.
This means that you don’t go creating crazy navigation menus which are hard to figure out and you don’t have lots and lots of graphics all over the page. Just keep it nice and simple so that your customers can easily find whatever they want and what you have for sale. One site I like to use which is a good example of this is John Chow’s site.
If you take a look at John’s site, it’s not terribly fancy looking. He doesn’t have lots of graphics and he doesn’t have a ton of ads all over the place. The site is pretty simple looking but it gets the job done. Personally, I’d focus on just one product on the front page as opposed to three different products and a banner ad but overall, it works because it’s simple to navigate the site and find what you need:
Content, Content, Content
In all of this, don’t forget that the single most important feature of your site is going to be the content. If you have something interesting to say and which makes a compelling case for making a purchase then you are that much more likely to actually get the sales you want. People tend to skimp on this so I want to really drive this point home.
If you think you can hire a good copywriter for less than $150 (and even that is ridiculously cheap and something to wonder about unless the guy is relatively new and looking for reviews) for a squeeze page, you are deluding yourself and setting yourself up for failure. Sure you could get someone on Fiverr to write one for you. You’ll also get the kind of junk that clogs the Internet and causes people to moan that they can’t make a sale.
Even more important than thinking about your copywriting is to think about blog posts and other content. I know that there are some people willing to spend something for their copywriting (although not much) but who think that a Fiverr writer is going to be ‘good enough’ for their blogs. Sad to say this is simply not the case.
People can pick up pretty quickly on the fact that your blog is written by a rank amateur who doesn’t know what they’re doing and who is being paid peanuts for the job.
There is an old saying that it takes something like 10,000 hours to become an expert in a particular subject. This means that the guy on Fiverr who has to write at least 2 articles an hour in order to make something approaching a living wage isn’t likely to be an expert. This is especially true for those who say they’ll write on anything.
Stay On Topic
You are not running Amazon.Com (unless your name is Jeff Bezos in which case, welcome Mr. Bezos. It’s a pleasure to have you as a reader). This means that your website probably should not be trying to be all things to all comers. You want a website which is tightly focused on the subject area you are covering and which actually caters well to that niche.
Now this does not mean that you need have a website which is a one trick pony. You don’t need to only sell pens for example. You could be running a website which offers all kinds of stationary products and other items intended for the office or for a school. However, your site which sells office supplies probably shouldn’t suddenly start offering to sell indoor swimming pools or shoe racks.
Generally however, I have found that as long as the market is sufficiently large, the tighter your focus the more likely you are to get customers. It’s a matter of specializing. When you do that, you gain a reputation as the ‘experts’ on a particular niche and are more likely to grab more sales for that narrow niche than for lots of different niches.
Do Good SEO
SEO is going to the cornerstone of your business. Even though it’s something which may not seem like a big deal given the prevalence of social networks, the fact is that SEO is still vital going forward. This will ensure that you are able to grab customers from the various search engines as well as from the social media sites (how do you think people find you to tell their friends about you)?
This can include things like well indexed websites (including an XML site map) and content which is regularly updated. It doesn’t need to be updated every day but your content should appear on a fairly regular basis and be topical and current. You should also try to ensure that any videos or images you put on your site include all the requisite meta-data so that the search engines can find them.
Finally, ensure that your site doesn’t have any funny formatting. The simpler it is and the faster it loads, the more likely Google is to index it and get you more customers.
Have a Call to Action
I cannot understand why so many people tend to forget about this when they design their websites. They put up all kinds of fancy things telling potential customers why their product has this that and other bells and whistles while they simply forget to actually make the pitch to get people to buy the product.
Mind you, the call to action doesn’t have to be a hard sell and it doesn’t need to be something which is in your face but it should actually be published on your site because it will make a huge difference in grabbing sales from your potential clients.
Use a Content Management System
Finally, for the love of all that’s holy, just use WordPress or some other content management system for your site. There is zero reason to pay for a web designer to custom code your site. It will cost you a great deal more than if you simply use a CMS and frankly, a good CMS is also more likely to drive sales because it’s less likely to crash.