Creating a website has never been easier than it is right now, but designing one that engages visitors still involves some challenges.
Your website should be more than a static online sales brochure. It should be a dynamic, central hub that unifies all of your other sales and marketing platforms. You want it to be concise, simple to navigate, and easy on the eyes. To create a website like that, you’ll need to focus on a mythical and illusive factor known as user experience (UX).
What is User Experience?
User experience is the value that visitors get when they use your website or product. Google algorithms evaluate and rank websites based on the quality of their content more than almost any other metric. The analysis is defined on their side, factoring in not only the amount of web traffic generated by each site, but also by how long visitors stay and what they do.
UI vs UX: Where UI, or user interface, refers to how users navigate and interact with the website, UX refers to the design of the website and how well it draws visitors in and makes them want to keep coming back. It’s an umbrella term that, according to cognitive scientist Don Norman, who first coined it back in the 1990s, defines the entire level of “interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
A good way to think about it is, the UI makes the experience efficient, the UX makes it enjoyable.
The Importance of UX
User experience is everything. A Salesforce/Pardot survey found that, of the 400 consumers engaged, 97 percent of respondents stated that content quality instills more trust in a company than almost any other factor.
64 percent of respondents to the same survey said content helpfulness and authenticity were major factors in determining if they would remain loyal to a specific brand.
Customers want to believe that you have some degree of authority in your field, that you’re responsive and easy to contact, and that your product or service fulfills their needs. To satisfy them, you’ll need to provide relevant, informative content that’s timely, yet evergreen.
Essential Web Page Elements
Your website should look beautiful, not cluttered or gimmicky. It should provide valuable content that’s informative, and it should be easy to navigate.
Search engine ranking is calculated, in part, based on whether your site has the right mix and density of relevant keywords or keyword phrases. You get bonus points if it’s easy to read and navigate, and if your site offers fresh, quality content that’s free of grammatical errors and misspellings.
Focusing on relevance is essential to quality content creation. Whatever the purpose of your website, it should perform three basic functions:
- Address a specific problem or need
- Offer a solution
- Provide an actionable way to get the solution
Once you have these elements, they should be conveyed in a manner that’s scannable. Remember, you only have about three seconds to grab and hold you visitor’s attention!
You should present your content in easy-to-read chunks with sufficient white space, headings, and bullet points. Every sentence should provide value to the reader.
Don’t forget that most visitors are accessing websites from mobile devices, so your content should be optimized for all platforms.
Your Home Page: How to Make a Great First Impression
Your home page is usually the first page people land on, and it sets the tone for the entire user experience.
The purpose of the home page is to provide an overview that tells visitors who you are and what you offer without going into too much detail. There’s plenty of room for details on your ‘About Us’ page and the pages that describe your products and services.
Basically, you want to address five main points in a way that encourages visitors to explore your website further. Let your visitors know:
- Who you are
- What you do
- What information your website provides
- What makes you (or your product or service) different
- What they need to do to access your product or service
Your home page should be accessible from all of your social media and digital marketing platforms via an embedded link. The page should include a few internal links to relevant pages within the website.
For example, if you mention a type of service, link the appropriate text to the page for that service. The call to action (CTA) should be at the bottom of your home page, and you should include some version of it on each page. More about that later!
Once your home page has handled the initial introduction, it’s time to give your visitors a chance to dive deeper into who you are. The best place for that is your ‘About Us’ page.
Your ‘About Us’ Page: A Little Self Promotion Goes a Long Way
The ‘About Us’ page is a chance to show the people behind the business. No matter what type of product or service you provide, your prospects feel better knowing that they’re dealing with a real human being and not a bot.
This helps to create a bond and makes you and your company more accessible. In the tech-oriented information age, the personal touch means a lot.
One trick for creating a compelling ‘About Us’ page is knowing how much content to create. You want to tell enough about yourself to spark interest but you should avoid going into great detail about your life. That being said, tailor the information to you customers. If your target audience is families or parents, then, by all means, mention your kids, for example.
In most cases, it’s best if your ‘About Us’ page sticks to business.
Professionals who provide a service should include details about their education and experience. For example, lawyers will want to discuss how they got into law, why they chose a specific practice area, and where they attended law school.
If you own a construction company, include some information about why you went into that business. Highlight your qualifications, mention your licensing or certifications, and provide a brief work history. The ‘About Us’ page is also a good place to link to an online portfolio or an image gallery on your website.
Never present the reader with a wall of text.
If you have a long back-story to tell, break up the content with headings and small blocks of text. Try to limit each section to one or two paragraphs of no more than four sentences each, and then add a new subheading or a bulleted list before moving on to the next section.
Companies that have multiple partners, a board, or a team to introduce should provide a simple headshot of each member, accompanied by their title and a short bio.
Other information you can weave into an ‘About Us’ page includes:
- Your company mission statement
- A brief mention of your charitable activity or the local causes that you support
- A list of memberships in professional organizations
- A brag about how many years you’ve been in business
Don’t forget to include a brief call to action or a link to your Contact page.
Your Contact Page: Make Sure Customers Can Reach You
Accessibility is the cornerstone of engagement. Prospective customers want to know that you’re reachable and will respond to their needs and concerns. Your Contact page can help promote trust and establish transparency.
A Contact page is also a good place to broaden your reach by adding links to your social media platforms. It’s the right place to put an opt-in for your newsletter or let users sign up for your email or direct mailing list. (Yes, direct mail is still a thing. In fact, it’s bigger than ever.)
There are a few essential elements that should be on every Contact page:
- Your name, or the name of your company.
- The company’s physical address and phone number
- The areas you serve
- A form to submit questions or request more information
You can also include an invitation to comment on social media, followed by links to your platforms. Any additional text should be short and to the point. Limit it to a sentence or two, with the main purpose being to invite visitors to get in touch with you.
If they’re already on your Contact page, visitors won’t need a hard sell to follow-through, but a page that’s cluttered with too much information could make them think twice.
How to Showcase Your Products or Services
A Products page or Services page is your chance to showcase what you’re selling. The best design for this page depends on the purpose of your website and how many products or services you’re offering.
There is one rule that applies regardless of how many products or services you have: the page that describes them should be uncluttered, and contain relevant content.
Words and Pictures Sell Products and Services
If you have an online store, your website probably showcases your products and services using images. To ensure a quick load time and an enjoyable experience, your images should be optimized for performance.
To optimize your images, you need to compress the image files as much as possible without sacrificing quality. Where do you draw the line between quality and size?
In general, high resolution images, which tend to be around 10 MB or more, can be compressed to less than 1MB and still look great. This can drastically improve the load time of the pages on your site.
You should use interactive images that visitors can zoom in to get a better look. Remember to include a concise description that contains relevant facts about each item.
If you page is product-focused, include product dimensions and a few details about what makes the product special.
If you provide services, depending on the number, you can include all of them on one page or use several pages to describe each one. With more than five services, you should create a separate page for each.
One or two paragraphs describing each product or service are sufficient. Explain what the products or services consist of and how your customers can get them.
Use Images and Video Content Wisely
Use only one image for each product or service you’re offering. If multiple images are needed to fully show the product or service, use the best image as a thumbnail alongside the descriptive text, and include a link to the gallery of additional images.
This approach is great for real estate agents, home remodelers and construction companies, artists, and anyone else who provides services with tangible results.
In case of an online store, aim to have as many images as needed to fully showcase the product. Remember that the product images should always be done professionally.
In search results, Google rewards sites with video content, but try to limit the number of videos to one or two, and please, disable the autoplay function.
If you need to include a lot of video content, consider starting a YouTube channel. You’ll be able to link to your channel so that visitors can access your videos.
Odds and Ends: Headings, Footers, and CTAs
Now that we’ve covered the meat of the web content, let’s turn our attention to some essential elements that are often overlooked. We’ve briefly touched on headings, so we’ll start with those before moving on to footers and CTAs.
Crafting Eye-Catching Headings and Subheadings
It’s tempting to create simple, one- or two-word, generic headings that plainly state your topic, but headings are no place to be basic.
Most visitors browse the headings and subheadings to get a summary of the content before they decide to dig deeper. You should craft engaging headings that represent the content in a compelling way. Headings and subheadings are also important elements in improving your SEO.
These are section titles that describe each part of your content. They should be long (up to 10 words) and wrapped in the appropriate HTML heading tags. Headings are easy to construct.
The page title goes in H1 tags. Main headings go between H2 tags, while subheading should be placed between H3 tags. The higher the heading tag number, the smaller the heading. If you structure your content and end up with H4 headings, you should put that lower-level content in bullet points or a list.
What goes between the heading tags?
Ideally, your headings should include one keyword or a keyword phrase. When using a single keyword, try including it in a long heading that displays an action, connecting word, and reason for that action. For example, “Add More Photos Because They Tell Your Story” or “Be Extra Careful of Firewall Plugins – They May Pose a Security Threat.”
You can use subheadings to highlight the next level of detail in the information you’re providing. Subheadings don’t need to include a keyword, but they should naturally lead the reader through your content and make it more scannable.
Never Neglect The Footer
There’s a part of a web page that’s often neglected. It’s the page footer, an area at the bottom of the page that too many website owners and content creators don’t take advantage of. Footers are a good place to put things that would clutter the page if they were part of the main content area.
The footer is also a good part of the page to include links to supplemental content or a navigation aid like a site map.
You can use the footer to mirror the links on your main menu, include social media icons, link to your terms of service and shipping policy, or create an organized table of contents that covers internal and external links of interest.
Last but Not Least, Your CTA
The purpose of your website is to convert visitors into customers. When it comes to your call to action, subtlety is not important. It should tell your visitors exactly what you want them to do.
Every page of your content should have at least one obvious, clearly worded call to action. It can be as simple as a button that says “Add to Cart” or “Shop Here.” Or, it could be a single sentence at the end of your main content pages that says, “For more information, call us today,” or “Contact us to request a quote,” with a link to the appropriate contact or order page.
Now You’re Prepared to Make a Website
Writing great content for your website remains one of the simplest and most straightforward means of standing out on the internet today. With a few simple tweaks, you’ll keep readers coming back, and maybe they’ll even refer their friends to your site.
If you’re still feeling stuck, here’s a simple tip to get started: model the best. When you find a site with great content, bookmark the page and come back to it later for inspiration.
What do you use for inspiration when you have to write content for your website?