Your Website is Your Best Long-Term PR-Part 2

SSAPart 2 of a 3 Part Series on Website Design

This guest post is by Bruce Rigney, owner of Rigney Graphics, a full-service marketing communication design and branding firm, established in 1982, and located in Old Pasadena, California. Sharon and I have had several occasions to work together with them on behalf of our clients. Rigney Graphics’ portfolio and more information about the company may be viewed on their website at www.rigneygraphics.com

Part 1 of this series is here.

Beyond Your Homepage – Which Way Did They Go?

After viewing your website’s homepage, your visitor has to decide where to go next. Given you’ve captured their interest, they now want to know more about you, your product, or your service. Your website design must guide them to:

  • Contact you.
  • Make an appointment.
  • Buy your product(s).
  • Give you their contact information.

If your homepage navigation is well designed, your visitor should easily find their next area of interest and click on it. That interest is definitely influenced by your website’s design and structure. The use of ‘clickable’ features to bring them directly to special offers or benefit helps your visitor swiftly find their way to your contact or purchase pages.

lanadil_web

The homepage for www.lanadil.com has a “See the Magic” clickable feature

on the right along with several clickable features along the bottom of the page

Short and to the Point

A web page is not a blog … term paper … or an essay, graded on how many words you can string together to make a short story long. You drive away visitors and stifle interest with long-winded company missions, credentials, product descriptions, and lengthy news stories about the company or product.

Too many websites look like strange hybrids of information source, advertisement, and brochure all wrapped up in a video game. Your visitor wants information, and they want it ‘NOW’. When you write for a web page, think “short attention span.” As with any advertising medium, you have 1/4 second to get their attention.

As an example, magazine articles are most often ‘scanned’ … viewed rapidly by the reader as they glance at a headline, a photo, read a caption or sub-head, and perhaps an enlarged “pull quote” before speeding on to the next article or ad. Your web page should afford the same ‘instant’ messaging to its visitors.

Photo by redactie ikvader.nl

Photo by redactie ikvader.nl

What They Read … Is What They Get

When your visitor arrives at a page of your website and is confronted with a large gray mass of text, you have lost them. Break up blocks of text to help your visitors immediately locate their area of interest on the page.

  • Subheads: These are usually in a different color from the text and help to define the text below them. The visitor can use the subhead as a guide to locate that part of the text that is of interest and will not be put off by thinking that all the text on the page will have to be read to get the information needed.
  • Bulleted Items: A paragraph which contains a list (of benefits, uses, services offered, credentials, clients, etc.) should be broken apart into bulleted listings which enable the visitor to immediately locate relevant items. No longer a blur of text, information will ‘pop off the page’ for the visitor.
  • Secondary Navigation: When you have a list of services or types of products, you can employ a secondary navigation element to the page, often on the side of the page. This allows the visitor to narrow his or her search quickly and get right to what they are looking for. As an example, on a services page for a beauty salon, rather than display a long page with a continuous listing of services, the services page could have a general statement about the services of the salon. Then, on the side of the page, a boxed area or sidebar can list each of the individual services where the visitor can click on a listed item to link directly to data about the specific service.

clearcorrect_web

Our site design for www.clearcorrect.com displays secondary

navigation links on the right side of many of its pages.

Eliminate the Negative – Reverse Type

Avoid blocks of copy in reversed type. White on black or on any other color, is almost impossible to read in quantity on a website. A statement, headline or sub-headline is fine, but be brief, and of sufficient size to be immediately recognizable. If you want to hide or obscure your message, reverse the text.

Visitor Drop-Off – Lines Too Long

Two-thirds of the way across the line of type your visitor ‘drops off’ and loses track of what they are reading. Reader drop-off rate is relative to the length of the line of text and the size of the type. If you must run text the full width of the page, you must increase the type size to balance the length of the line.

Drop-off is a significant design factor for the new wider website standard for the larger monitors now in general use. Designers must artfully balance artwork, sidebars, navigation columns and the use of shorter columns to avoid a layout that requires the reader to scan a full length wider web page.

Call to Action

Your website should contain “calls to action”. Places where you ask your visitor to contact you, or purchase a product. These can be placed on the homepage, or on any pages where it is probable that the visitor might be receptive to being guided toward that action. These calls to action are usually presented as prominently displayed links which direct the visitor to “Buy Now” or “Call Today” or “Contact Us.”

Remember, your site was not only built to inspire confidence in your products or services, but as a lead-generating or income-generating tool to grow your business. Here’s a good example:

lilash_web

This page from www.lilash.com has five calls to action: A “Purchase Lilash” navigation bar

on the left, a “Shop Online” bar at the top right, and text links at the end of three of the paragraphs.

Who is Your Visitor? – Capture Their Contact Info.

Many salon/spa sites are not set up for online sales. The main goal is to generate enough interest to get a visitor to make an appointment or respond to an offer. If they’ve gotten to your website, they are already a ‘warm’ lead and you want to capture their contact information to re-contact them if you miss them this time around.

Ideally, what you want is your visitor’s name, address, phone number and email address, but most of us are reluctant to divulge all that on our first contact. Since our goal is to be able to continue to communicate to them, obtaining an email address only is a victory.

Once their contact info has been captured in any form, you are able to continue to stimulate their interest via email. Such items as:

  • News stories about your business
  • Customer successes or endorsements
  • New product and/or service offerings

All of these encourage a potential client to try your product or service and eventually become part of your ever-expanding clientele.

Get Help

If your website is not measuring up to expectations and generating solid leads to new clients, you need help from a professional design group with proven success in upgrading website effectiveness.

Part 3 of this series (coming up) addresses what to look for in the selection of a website design firm.

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Comments

  1. True Carl, True … when dealing in the blogging and experienced web world. Many of our subscribers in this industry are not experienced in the ways of the website or blog development and need good, solid basics. Bruce wrote to this audience. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Alexander Irving says:

    Although rare, I occasionally encounter a slow server issue. Sorry about that, David.

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