Inbound Marketing is all about getting the right people to your website when they are looking for your offering, establishing trust to convert those visitors into leads, nurturing those leads into closed sales, and continuing to add value to your clients' lives after the sale. If you recall, the other day I wrote about using content to educate your website visitors to build trust and ultimately generate high quality leads. Keeping with the same theme of building trust with your high quality website traffic, it's important to examine the role of website design in your inbound marketing efforts.
Have you ever met someone and had immediate feelings about your level of trust for them? How about in business? How about the last time you went to buy a new vehicle? Yeah, thought so. It's a crumby feeling. You feel like you need to watch your back and everything you say. If you had a lesser of 2 evils to choose from, you'd probably leave the situation immediately. Guess what. Online, there's always a lesser of 2 evils. There's always another solution. That's why design is so important.
Make A Good First Impression
How many times have you done a search for something online, clicked on a search results and immediately hit back to find another search result? That's called a bounce in SEO. We do it all of the time. We might do it because we know what site we're looking for and know immediately upon arrival that we're on the wrong site. We might do it because the format of the content on the page looks like something we don't want to deal with, like tons of paragraphs of text. We might do it because we immediately thought of a better search phrase to use. Finally, we might do it because the site we land on doesn't immediately establish trust through a professional design.
First impressions are everything online. Your website's design, that is it's look and feel, is often what impacts your visitors' decision to either stay or hit the back button. You only have a few seconds to prove you're trustworthy through your design. If you pass the test, you may have just convinced your biggest future client to start the buying process with you. If you fail, well, you can count on them finding a more trusted competitor of yours.
What Makes A Trustworthy Design?
At the risk of sounding unhelpful I will start by saying, you know a sketchy site when you see it. It's that gut feeling that this site isn't where I want to be. You also very clearly (though subconsciously) have an at ease feeling about sites that you are comfortable visiting. There are a few common characteristics of sites that people tend to trust.
It's tempting for some marketers to use every pixel on the screen to push their message or make an offer. Unfortunately, this leads to clutter and an unprofessional design. Think the side of a race car! Covered with different stickers that all clash and have a different message. On the flip side, if you can resist the urge to over-saturate your website, you can build a ton of trust.
White space is your friend. With the most important content above the fold and a single theme for each page, your visitors won't go cross eyed trying to find the back button!
2 - A Logo That Fits Your Site's Design
Has your logo survived the test of time? Does it still seem professional? Does it seem clean and modern enough? A great way to tell is to stick it in a modern website design and see if it fits in. I'm not saying you have to compromise your time-tested logo in order to accommodate a more modern design. If your logo doesn't blend well with a modern look, a good designer will be able to work around it and make the site "feel" at one with the logo.
Often times with a site powered by Wix, GoDaddy or even WordPress, a DIYer of a small business owner will force their logo into a built-in template and it will simply look out of place. It's the equivalent of going to a fine dining restaurant and having your waiter or the hostess being dressed in pajama pants, slippers, and a torn up, oversized t-shirt. That just wouldn't match the atmosphere of a fine dining restaurant. That would also put your trust of the restaurant in serious jeopardy.
3 - Colors That Work Together & Color Blindness
It's not enough to have the layout, fonts and graphics right. Using a color scheme that either doesn't match or doesn't look good will kill your visitors' trust as well. Some colors work online, and others don't. Most colors can be worked into a site's design tastefully, if your designer is experienced. Too much variance in color is another no-no with web design. We want to keep our visitors comfortable, not give them a headache.
According to ColourBlindAwareness.org, there are approximately 2.7 million color blind people in the world. Your site's color scheme should be sure to speak to them. If you'd like examples of what color blind people see with different colors, the same site has a good comparison here: http://www.colourblindawareness.org/colour-blindness/colour-blindness-experience-it/
Another great resource, VisCheck, allows you to upload a photo and see how a color blind person would see it. Try taking a screen shot of your website and uploading it!
4 - Different Device Sizes
Another design aspect that absolutely must be addressed is how users of smartphones and tablets see your site. As of this writing, Google believes that over 50% of the search queries they respond to will be from mobile devices by the end of 2014. Some of those searchers are looking for your business's solutions. If you've ever visited a website on your smartphone that isn't optimized for mobile, you know how frustrating that experience is.
Responsive design ensures that your website visitors are seeing your content in the most user friendly way possible, regardless of the device they are using.
Build Trust Through With a Professional Design
All the high-quality traffic in the world will mean nothing if they all hit the back button because your site's design doesn't build trust. Get the design right, and generating leads will be much easier.
As for the technical stuff: It's also extremely important that your website's back end is optimized so Google can find and rank it in search engine results. Otherwise, how will people get on your website in the first place?
To get a free checklist that addresses both search engine visibility and user-friendly design, click below: