Web design and development can be an expensive process, so how do you maximise the return on your investment? Doing expert search engine optimisation and pay-per-click advertising are important tools to to boost relevant traffic, but what about after customers get to the site? When creating your website, it’s easy to get bogged down in small details and lose sight of the overall goal: a great experience for your customer, leading to valuable engagement with your business. A great website should respect visitors, and embody your brand in a way that is memorable and engaging. Here are some tips for crafting an effective website by putting your clients first.
First impressions matter
Mutual respect is the cornerstone of business. Without it, the relationships and trust necessary for success are destroyed. Building relationships and trust with customers requires consistent work, so where better to start than their very first interaction with your business? Increasingly, this first point of contact is your website.
So how can we capitalise on this first interaction to build business relationships? Rather than just saying that your business respects their clients, your clients will know intuitively that you care when they have a great experience on your site.
Design with respect
Your website plays an enormous role in how customers will feel about your business. Your website’s design should make visitors feel something, and start an emotional connection between the visitor and your brand that you can go on to reinforce through other interactions. The site structure should allow users to get to any page in 2-3 clicks, without frustration or confusion.
Using common design patterns that users will already be familiar with will make it much easier for them to find what they’re looking for on your site. This is particularly important to keep in mind for users with disabilities, and those who are not the most technologically intuitive. When a site is ugly or difficult to use, it provides a barrier to engagement that may be losing you valuable leads.
Pleasant interactivity in the details, such as hover states and animations, are important contributors to the user experience. On a site we recently built, we’ve had a lot of delighted feedback regarding an animated car that drives off into the distance as the user scrolls. It’s a small detail, but the little surprise makes the site significantly more engaging. Feedback on the site has included language like “fun” and “funky”. While these might not be appropriate for your brand, it shows how good design can translate to real customers associating emotive language with a business.
A customer who has a genuine positive emotional response to your website will be far more likely to go on to convert. Respecting and understanding your audience well enough to emotionally tailor your site for them will massively boost consumer trust.
Attention to the detail in the user experience sets a precedent for great interactions with your business in the future, and taking the time to develop a quality web presence is really investing in your client relationships.
Convert when you’ve earned it
Getting a website visitor to give you a call, buy something, or submit a form is ultimately your goal once they get to your site. Some sites push this too hard by putting forms and phone numbers all over the place, and ultimately this leads to customer distrust. It distracts from the reason why most visitors come to the site in the first place - to learn more about you and your business. Keeping this in mind when adding contact forms to a site is another way to demonstrate your respect for your customers.
Placing a form below content prompts the reader to connect after engaging with the page content, rather than before. This is an important difference, as when a user has finished engaging with your valuable content, the natural next step could be to convert. Compare this to a popup form that interrupts the user experience when they’ve only read half of the content. There’s a powerful urge to dismiss the popup and go back to reading, leading to lower engagement.
The goal here is to empathise with your users, and ensure their expectations match their experience on the site. Cause and effect should be self evident, and the user should always be in the driving seat. Those contact forms should absolutely be there, but content should always be the priority.
Even on pages dedicated to a contact form, the form should not be presented in isolation. A paragraph to set expectations for what will happen after they submit the form can make a world of difference to the user’s willingness to engage. Designing with a “content first, contact second” approach makes sure the customer relationship is on the best possible footing when they choose to engage.
While these tips just scratch the surface of respectful user experience, it’s useful to remember that websites are not static objects. As the web evolves, best practices and user expectations will change, and web design fads will soon look dated. What will not change is human nature.
When people feel valued and respected by you and your company, they will be far more likely to pick you over a competitor. By designing for respect, you design for success, and will create an engaging, memorable, and effective website.