Step 2 – Designing an Effective Visual Layout and Theme

How long do you think the average person spends on a web page? 

It may surprise you to hear that the majority of people spend less than 15 seconds on a web page before moving on. So, how do you effectively capture someone’s attention long enough for them to engage with your website in a meaningful way? 

Here are 12 research-based methods that can spark interest and encourage a potential customer to interact with your website (hopefully for longer than 15 seconds!): 

1 – Intuitive Navigation

First and foremost, your website needs to be easy to navigate. If a user has to spend a few minutes trying to figure out how to find your mission, contact information, or list of services, they may get frustrated and move on. It should be immediately obvious on the homepage where these things can be found. 

2 – Logo Placement

Put your logo at the top left corner of your website on all pages, and set it so that it will lead back to the homepage if it is clicked on. This is a common practice on most webpages, and people know to click on the logo if they want to go back to the homepage. Here’s an example of a homepage with intuitive navigation and logo placement: 

Logo.jpg

 To easily create a professional quality logo design in seconds we recommend AI powered Renderforest. Simply type in your company name, tagline and add a description of the logo you want in 1 or 2 sentences. You can choose one of the six available styles, like flat, watercolor, gradient and more. Just wait a few seconds for the AI to do its magic and voila, you have a beautiful professional looking logo in seconds. 

Each logo is fully customizable with options to edit the font, colors, size and more. You can download a small file size PNG to preview your new logo for free. If you’d like a higher quality PNG or if you’re going to use your logo commercially it costs just $9.99. If you’d like to pay a little more, Renderforest will create a brand guide, social media package and 20+ logo mockups for $39.99.

3 – Color Scheme

This one may seem obvious, but color is worth mentioning as it is extremely important. Color evokes emotion and associations. Blue, for example, is one of the most popular color scheme choice for brands, as it evokes a sense of calmness and trust. However, this isn’t the only thing that matters when choosing your color scheme. 

Color associations matter, but choosing a color also involves considering your buyer persona and context – research shows that what truly matters is that you can gauge how consumers will respond to your color schemeThink about your ideal buyer persona, and choose a color scheme that will appeal to them and will reflect the “feel” of your brand. Employ the same general scheme across all pages on your website to create a similar vibe on each page that represents your brand. 

color.jpg

To easily create a perfect color palette for your brand we recommend Coolors. Coolors allows you to explore trending color palettes or use their generator and create your own. Simply hit your space bar to generate millions of aesthetically pleasing color palettes automatically, no design skills needed. 

You can also upload a photo and create a perfectly matching palette instantly. Coolors allows you to export your palette for free and copy the correct color codes using HEX, CMYK, RGB and more. The CMYK color model is used in printing and represents: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key, which represents black. RGB is the color model your computer monitor uses and represents the primary colors Red, Green, and Blue. Web developers use HEX codes to represent colors in code. Each HEX code is expressed as a six-digit combination of numbers and letters defined by its mix of red, green and blue. 

These terms are useful to know when working with designers, developers, contractors and printers to ensure your designs are in the correct format when produced. For example, when printed, RGB colors will not appear the same as they do on your monitor and may look distorted. 

4 – Consider Including Videos

Having a video(s) on your website is a way to increase interest in your company. 87% of video marketers say that videos have increased traffic to their website, and 80% say that videos have increased sales. Video has actually become the most commonly used format in content marketing, surpassing blogs and infographics. But a lot of companies haven’t kept pace with this shift – at this point, it’s almost always necessary to have videos showcasing your brand in addition to your blogs and images. 

video.jpg

There are many options for video creation tools in 2020, but we recommend tools in the Adobe Suite. For beginners, we suggest you start with Adobe Spark which is free for 2 months right now. Adobe Spark is available online and lets you easily add photos, video clips, icons, or your own voiceover and soundtrack with slick transitions between.

For those with a little more experience we recommend Adobe Premiere Rush for more customization and graphic options. Use free professional templates right in the app, with hundreds more options on Adobe Stock or Envato Elements. You can change the color, size, font, and more to match your brand and video needs. 

Finally, for truly professional quality videos we use Adobe Premiere. Adobe Premiere is the industry standard for videos and supports high resolution video editing, audio mixing and graphics creation you can export in HD and 4k. You can easily import templates from Envato and other sources to create more engaging clips. If you want to learn more about video creation and editing there are many free tutorials online and in the Adobe ecosystem. 

5 – Calls to Action

It is imperative to use Calls to Action on your website. Examples of Calls to Action include buttons that say “click here for more information”, “download our free form”, “contact us”, etc. An effective Call to Action creates a navigation path on your website to land users where you ultimately want them to be. 

Call2Action.png

6 – Interactive Tools

In a recent podcast episode, Neil Patel (Digital Marketer and New York Times bestselling author) noted that one of the most important things to have on your website today for search engine optimization is interactive tools. These could be quizzes that users can take to find out which service best fits their needs, for example.

Simply including some interactive tools can boost the quality of website design for small businesses. Consider incorporating some user-friendly interactive tools on your website to enhance SEO and user interest. You can start with a tool such as Typeform to create a quiz for your website. You can then post the quiz across your social media accounts. 

7 – Infographics and Images

This one is especially important – you definitely need to effectively use images and infographics on your website. A well-placed infographic is a powerful way to display statistics that make your company stand out, or simply show your services in an easily understandable way.  

Most people would rather look at an image than read a block of text. You can use infographics to quickly get important information about your brand across to potential customers. Additionally, having images boosts your SEO. You can use infographic templates to start. For an affordable monthly cost, we recommend websites such as Envato Elements that offer a wide range of images to choose from without worrying about copyright infringement. 

infographic-color1.jpg

To create beautiful and interactive infographics try Infogram. We find this more intuitive for beginners than data visualization behemoth Tableau. Infogram is a free online tool you can use to make and share interactive digital charts, infographics and maps on social media and your website. Infogram offers an intuitive user interface that can import data from CSV, Excel and more file formats. You can easily customize the colors, fonts, icons and designs of each infographic. Infogram allows you to embed each animated design on your website with a link to your data sources. 

8 – Action-focused Headlines

Your headlines should clearly answer the question, “Is this what I’m looking for?”. Users are more likely to read the rest of your site if the headline tells them exactly what they will be getting out of it and if they find that useful. Make sure you explain exactly what your company does prominently on the homepage. 

For example, our Vale Creative homepage states, “We help SaaS companies grow”. This tells a visitor exactly what we do and what they can get out of our services right off the bat. The same applies for blog posts!

9 – Testimonials

This is a key part of website design for small businesses – you need to create “social proof” on your website. The reviews you choose to display on your site should closely reflect your key services or products, and reinforce the claims you are making about your company.

Testimonials.jpg

You can feature a horizontal bar of short testimonials on your homepage that users can scroll through, and/or include a “reviews” or “customer feedback” page on the header of your website that users can navigate to in order to see raving reviews about your company. 

10 – Avoid Clutter and Use White Space

Clearly show one thing at a time. While images, videos, and text are all important, don’t overwhelm users with too much content on a single part of a page. If a user feels overwhelmed by clutter on a webpage, they will probably leave. Simple designs that use more white space draw attention to your core message, and don’t risk diverting a user’s attention. 

11 – Mobile Optimization

Definitely don’t overlook this one! According to Google, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, and 40% will visit a competitor’s site instead. These are some pretty noteworthy statistics! You must ensure your website is optimized for mobile use, or you risk losing a potential customer for life. 

Mobile2.jpg

12 – Excellent Copywriting

In the hunt for the latest trick to boost SEO, generate more traffic and quickly build an audience, we can lose sight of what is arguably the most important item on this list. There’s no algorithm or hack that can craft copywriting that will draw in your target audience. If your website’s writing isn’t excellent, your content will not stand out. We’re always in search of the latest marketing trick in the hope of finding a quick way to boost leads, but the truth is that we should spend more time getting back to basics. The cliche “content is king” is a common phrase in business for a reason.

Your copywriting needs to be better than everything else out there on the same topic

Really try to get inside the mind of your ideal buyer persona. Think about how they would react to every single sentence on your website. If there’s any fluff, remove it. If you’re unsure if your website’s copy is optimal, take a step back and get a second opinion from coworkers. We recommend taking a close critical look at your current copy. It’s worth it to spend time finding the exact right words to use and closely proofreading your writing. See our blog post on technical content writing for more information about why tech companies today need good writing to succeed.

If you really want to elevate your writing to the next level, consider taking a free writing course through Harvard’s online learning platform edX. They currently offer classes and certifications on business writing.

J_0249-05.jpg

So – you now have the tools you need to start building a great site or you’re convinced you need to tweak a few things on your current site. What’s next?