Entries Tagged 'website design' ↓

Engaging Through Web Design

Clarity – copywriting – images – scanable text – clear navigation – easy on the eye engaging through web design

These are just a few things a successful website needs. Although the title of this blog post is ‘Engaging through web design’ it will delve deeper to look at the elements of a successful website, including web copy, layout and colour.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Plain English

When someone lands on your website (assuming they are English) their eyes will automatically be drawn to the top left and scan in a left to right motion, from top to bottom.

The first thing they’ll want to know is that they’ve arrived at the right place. That’s why your company name and strapline must be at the top of your website. After that there should be some well written words highlighting what you can do for them – yes, afraid so, this isn’t the place for a long essay on how great your company is.

It’s essential your opening gambit is powerful as this will determine whether the visitor will remain on your site to find out more, or navigate away to find another website.

But powerful doesn’t mean ridiculously complex words and sentences in an attempt to show your intelligence – it won’t.

What it will do is show you as a company that is far more interested in its own importance than it is it’s customers. That’s why you should always use plain and simple English to get your point across succinctly.

Clear navigation

The ability to easily navigate around your website is vital to enhance the user experience.

For example every website needs an “About Us” page so the user can learn a bit about the company they may be about to do business with. The name “About Us” fits this purpose perfectly. So why then do you find websites that use other, more obscure names for this page?

If you have a page that talks about your services, call it the “Services” page – it’s not rocket science.

By keeping your page names simple and obvious your visitors will be able to find their way around your website with ease – don’t make them hunt for information.

The other aspect of your navigation is to keep it to a minimum. There’s nothing more frustrating than landing on a website that’s full of hyperlinks – how will your visitor know where to click? Make sure your navigation is clear and simple to make moving around your website as intuitive as possible.


Earlier we mentioned the importance of using plain, simple English on your website, but you also need to make sure that it’s laid out in such a way that reading it is effortless.

The best way to achieve this is by including plenty of white space on your page. Taking this post as an example, you can see that I’ve used lots of short paragraphs and sub headings to help you, the reader, find the information you need.

The white space breaks up the text making it appear easier to digest. But it’s not just layout that you need to consider, colour also comes into play.

Have you noticed the number of websites these days that are using grey text on a white background? Yes, they look very modern, but for some readers this can pose problems because of the lack of contrast. Try and stick to high contrasts, like black on white, to make it easier for people of all ages to read what you have to say.

Prioritise your information

As with everything in life the most important stuff should come first.

When laying out your text, prioritise the order in which it will appear with the main benefits first leading on to the features and finally any other supporting information you have.

This will make sure the reader is hit with the important facts (the benefits) first, which will ultimately help them make their buying decision.

If you leave these until the end, you run the risk of losing them before they reach them.

As you can see, an effective website is a lot more than just an eye-catching design. Every aspect of your site, from its content to it’s images, layout and navigation, will have an impact on its success.

Take a few minutes out now to look at your website. Does it tick all the boxes, or is there room for improvement?

Website SEO – Structure

Over the years I’ve written a lot about search engine optimisation (that link will take you to a series of posts covering everything from keywords and on screen optimisation to link building and dodgy SEO practices that should be avoided), but mainly in relation to on screen SEO copywriting.

This post looks at the other side of SEO – your website’s structure.

As this also plays a vital part in your ranking success, it’s about time I gave it some coverage. However, a word of warning, I’m not a web designer or coder, so this is all stuff I’ve picked up along the way (i.e. it won’t be really technical).

I guess a good a place to start is your website’s navigation.


Q: What is the purpose of your site’s navigation?

A: To help your visitors find their way around your site easily and for the search engine spiders to crawl your site easily.

Did you see that? The word ‘easily’ featured twice in that sentence – that should give you a clue as to where this is going.

There are 2 main things to say here: the first is that your navigation should be coded in such as away that it’s easy for the spiders to crawl it (i.e. not in Flash or JavaScript); secondly, think about how deep your website is.


Depth is basically a measure of how many clicks people need to make to reach the inner pages of your website. The more layers they have to click through, the harder it is for them to navigate.

People (and search engine spiders) like to find the information they need quickly and easily and don’t take kindly to having to dig deep to find it. So, if possible, make sure your website only has a maximum of 3 clicks to find the information needed. This will help your rankings (in conjunction with your other SEO activities) and reduce your bounce rate.

That’s why it’s vital you plan your website’s navigation and structure from the outset rather than just letting it evolve.

Internal linking

The depth of your site thingy is OK if you’re a relatively small company, but what happens when the size of your business demands a big website?

That’s where good internal linking comes in to play.

There are 2 types of links relevant to SEO:

  • External backlinks – those than point to your website from one unrelated to your site
  • Internal backlinks – links that connect pages within your own website

Why is it important to link between your own pages?

Well they have a number of SEO advantages: such as decreasing the number of clicks need to access information deep within your site (benefiting the spiders and readers); giving you the opportunity to use keyword rich anchor text links; improving user experience.

So, whenever you add a new blog post, page or article to your website, make sure you use relevant anchor text links to link it to other related information within your website.


The last item on my list is your URL structure.

Using your keywords within your URL structure will definitely help your SEO, so make sure all your sub-pages use keywords relevant to that page.

Not a lot more to say about that one.

Over to you

That’s a very quick, non-techy perspective on website structure and search engine optimisation.

So come you on techies out there, what have I missed out?

If you can offer some nuggets of wisdom, leave a comment below and enlighten the masses.

Is Your Website Giving Your Visitors What They Want?

When you designed your website, what was at the forefront of your mind?website visitors' wish list

Was it your colour scheme, the graphics you used, the font or perhaps ensuring the latest ‘must have’ gizmos were present?

At any point in the process did you think about the visitors to your site?

Granted, your site has to reflect you and your business, but it also has to offer your visitors what they want.

Yup, sorry, it’s all about THEM.

Your visitors’ wish list

In an ideal world your website has to satisfy these 4 visitor wants:

1. Does it have what I want?

Although they probably found you through a Google search, so in theory your site should be offering what they searched for, have you made it obvious?

The minute they land on your site they have to be able to see that you are offering what they’re looking for.

If your home page (because that’s probably the first page they’ll come to) is full of information about you – how wonderful you are, how long you’ve been trading, what colour your offices are decorated in – they will hit the back browser and disappear faster than a fast thing.

Instead, it should be all about THEM. Tell them how they’ll benefit from what you’re offering. Write your website copy in the second person to make it personal to them; keep the language simple and chatty to engage with them. In other words keep the focus firmly on THEM.

2. Are you trustworthy?

The Internet is a wonderful thing and has opened up all sorts of opportunities for businesses and customers that would otherwise have been closed to them. But because your business is ‘virtual’ and your customers can’t walk into your offices or showroom for a chat, you must use your website to show you are a real company that they can trust.

How do you do that?

Well, a professional site with a good design, great information and clear content is a good start. Throw in an About Us page with substance (showing awards etc.) and testimonials that are attributed to real people to add weight to your reputation.

If you’re mentioned in local newspapers or magazines, again link out to the articles or include a PDF that can be downloaded from your site.

All of these things show your credibility as a company.

3. What do you do?

There’s nothing worse than landing on a website only to be bemused about what the company actually does.

Because first impressions count, make sure your design and images reflect your business activities to strengthen your message.

Your products and services should be clearly stated. Clear navigation should be able to effortlessly steer your visitors to the pages they need for more information. Again, the About Us page that we mentioned earlier should also outline what you can do for your customers.

4. Easy to contact

Making yourself easy to contact will also help the trust issue.

Having a contact form is all well and good, but if you want to be completely transparent make sure you also show your email, phone number and physical address. At least then they are reassured that you really do exist.

And make sure all that information is easy to find. Don’t hide it away in the darkest recesses of your website so only the most skilled of surfers can find it.

Over to you

Have we missed anything?

What are your thoughts about what your visitors want?

Leave a comment below and let’s see how many we can come up with.

How to Improve Your Website’s Conversion Rate

Does your website work?

Do you get regular traffic?

Are you getting regular leads from your website?

When, at a networking event, I asked those three questions to a businessman and website owner, this was his response:

“I don’t have an ecommerce website, so that doesn’t apply to me. I have a website because everyone expects me to have one. It’s not as if businesses like mine sell through their website – that’s impossible.”

Unfortunately, thinking like that, he’s never likely to sell through his website. And if he isn’t getting any leads from it that would suggest his website is poorly built and poorly written.

An easy-to-use structure and well-written site will boost your conversion rate (assuming your SEO strategy is targeting the correct keywords). But there is another factor that is often ignored – the speed at which your website loads.

A slow loading website could lose you 7% of your potential conversions

According to a recent post on Bryan Eisenberg’s blog, a 1 second delay in your download speed could result in:

  • 7% fewer conversions
  • 11% fewer page views
  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction

There are several factors that can affect your load speed, for example image size, social media buttons or the size of your website.

The optimum download time is under two seconds (this will help improve your rankings significantly). So how do you get your site to load faster?

  1. Check your speed

If you don’t monitor your speed, you won’t know how well you are performing. Use tools such as Google Analytics to help you with this. Bryan also suggests a couple of his favourite tools: The Web Page Speed Report, Yahoo’s YSlow plugin, Google’s Page Speed plug-in, Loads In and WebPagetest.

There are others available but this will get you started.

Remember for every button and image you add to your website, you’ll be increasing the time it takes for your website to load.

  1. Coding

This one is for your web designer to look at for you. The coding of your site (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) can also have an effect on download speeds, so it’s best to chat to your designer about what can be done to tweak it.

  1. Images

Images and graphics look great on websites. They can be used to illustrate your products or they can make your text more impactful. But the more you use, the higher your load time.

Condensing your images, using the right format for the right task and reducing the overall number will help.

Why you need to know this

If you have a website, you would have invested heavily in it. Therefore, why would you not expect to see a return on that investment?

A website isn’t an online brochure. It is a powerful sales tool. Available 24/7, it offers potential customers a means to get to understand your company and what you can do for them.

Every businesses website should sell. It should bring in leads – in essence, it should be your 24 hour sales team.

If you’re not getting leads from your site ask yourself why not? Review the structure, content, load time, keywords and analytics.

A business with a website that isn’t performing is like a High Street store that keeps its door locked all the time.

Review your website today and make sure it’s working for you.

Do You Know What Your Brand Is?

Do you understand what your brand is?

You do? Great, write it down as succinctly as you can.

Now you have your idea of what your brand is written down, let’s look at what a brand really is and see if you were right.

Knowing your brand

If you run a business you probably spent a huge amount of time thinking about your brand when you started out. That would have equated to spending hours with a graphic designer to come up with a cool-looking logo.

Once that was done, you’re next job was to find a web designer and begin work to create a funky website that had all the latest gadgets and gizmos. Your logo was inserted into the header and there you go, your business was launched.

Was that it?

You have a logo, you have a website and therefore you have a brand?

[Take a look at what you wrote down at the start of this post – did you say logo?]

It’s not necessarily that straight forward.

Your brand is a lot more than just your logo. Branding is all about colour, graphics, words, design, perception, and it’s about you.

Are your values shining through?

Let’s go back a step or two.

Before you even begin to think brands, you have to understand your business and its values and who your customers are and their needs. That’s a lot to get your head round but it is vital if you’re to position yourself correctly in the market.

If you don’t understand your customers how can you position yourself correctly to attract them?

After all you’re aiming your products and services at them so the way they are ‘packaged’ has to meet their needs and expectations.

This packaging includes:

– Your website copywriting and look
– Marketing materials
– Business cards
– Logo
– You

Surprised by the last one?

You shouldn’t be.

When in front of a potential customer, you are your business and your brand. If you don’t match the image your business portrays online (or through your literature) the disparity will be unnerving for your customer and give off mixed messages.

Let me elaborate – if your website projects a classic, well presented image and you turn up in jeans and a t-shirt your ‘brand’ won’t gel.

A consistent and well thought out brand will instil trust. If your website reflects your business’ values and activities through its words and design, your customer will instantly understand what you are offering them. It will give them an idea of how expensive you are likely to be, how open and approachable you are and whether you are a progressive company.

A fluid brand

Your brand will also be fluid.

If your business has been going for a few years I bet your customer base has changed. That means your brand must also reflect that change.

Therefore it is a good idea to revisit your brand every few years to ensure it is still giving a true picture of your business. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your logo, although it may be something to think about if it no longer represents your business’ ethos.

This is me at the moment:




As you can see my marketing materials and website aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet anymore. Although my website has done me well over the past few years, my client base has moved on since it was designed.

Now I have to rethink my image and market position to align my brand with the market I am now working with.

It’s a scary process and, at times, uncomfortable. Take my logo for example. I am rather attached to it and want to keep it. My proposed new website design is far more contemporary than my present one and I feel it would sit well within it. Especially as my new site will be more ‘social’ (i.e. more focus on social media). After all, if you look at my logo it has the appearance of a social media ‘button’ – very forward thinking considering it was designed over 3 years ago!

Take a good look at yourself

Once you realise the complexity of your brand you can then start to work on your image and that of your business to project a uniform message.

Branding isn’t something that always gets the attention it deserves. In fact this post was prompted following a recent branding workshop I attended. As usual it’s not until someone else points these things out to you that you realise there’s a problem.

Branding is so much more than a logo.

Does your personal and company image gel or are you sending mixed messages? Please leave a comment and share your take on branding and how you arrived at the look you have for your business.