Regardless of who we are or what we do, we have experiences every single day. Some of them are enlightening. Others… leave a lot to be desired.
As a human just like the rest of you, I hope for the former – experiences that make me happy, excited, cheerful, or otherwise positive about whatever the situation is that I’m in. We naturally want to avoid negativity, so an experience that screams “unhappy” is typically something we steer clear of.
Thus, as a business, creating a positive and engaging experience for our customer should be right near the top of our priority list. If we don’t focus on that, we’re less likely to make the sale due to lack of comfort, disinterest and failure to build a relationship. Nothing changes when it comes to the web – in fact, it becomes even more important because you have a create this alluring experience in a 2D space (for now – mainstream virtual reality is imminent!).
When I work with our design team here at TM, we take great pride in and employ extra focus on creating the right experience for our website projects. Let me share a few tactics that we use during this process to ensure we hit the nail on the head:
1. Tell an engaging story
We’ve all tried to read a boring book before. What happens? We lose interest, get sleepy, or generally just focus our attention elsewhere. It’s the same thing when it comes to the web. Keep the user’s interest, or you’re going to lose them as a visitor, which means no conversions for you.
Engage the user. Rope them in with captivating photos, contrasting colors, and provocative headlines. Walk them through a tale of your business, service, or product, as if you were presenting to them personally. Guide them from initial interest to the goal line; be it picking up the phone, filling out a contact form, or purchasing a product. Most importantly, make them feel comfortable by the end of the story.
I realize that not every business, product, or service may be “glamorous” enough to think that you can apply this tactic to it, but it’s this process that will help you define what your company’s story is, in whatever shape or form that takes. Just as with genres of books, there are different ways of successfully telling a story.
2. Let your product or service speak for itself
Chances are if you’re representing a product or service, you stand behind it and want it to be the best that it can be. At least that’s what I hope – otherwise, might be time for a new job! Since you spend so much time on your products and services, show them off! Let it do the talking for you. It’s what you want people to invest themselves in at the end of the day anyways.
- Spend some time outlining a list of most important things that you would want someone new to your offering to know. Rank them by importance or impact. This will help define a hierarchy, which you can then apply to your overall design layout and ensure that the right points receive the right amount of prominence. Pro tip: don’t make everything equal in prominence.
- Be visual, even if you don’t think your product is visual. Shopping online is a fantastic evolution for the retail world, but a lot of companies forget to give them the same type of experience that a customer would get in-person, or in-store. Make sure that the customer can really get a good glimpse of what you’re selling so that they have the most opportunity to pull the trigger on contacting you or purchasing from you, even if you don’t think your product is “glamorous” like I mentioned before. You have a target audience, so give them what you know they want. If you haven’t done that level of research yet, start there or contact us and we’ll give you a hand.
- Don’t write off anything that you’ve already done. Use it as a comparison to pinpoint where some of those decisions came in, and if they still hold any value. This is especially true if you’ve had a layout up for some time. Hopefully you have been using Google Analytics, HotJar, or some other form of data-gathering tool so that you can aggregate pre-existing visitor data to further dictate your designs when doing this re-evaluation.
3. Don’t leave the user hanging
One of the biggest points I try to drive home to our design team, and to our clients, is to not leave your website visitors hanging. You might have the best content in the world, but if you don’t have a clear path or prompt for them to take the next step- such as filling out a contact form, calling you, or purchasing one of your offerings online, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Just as a retail store will try to rope you back in or seal the deal before you exit the store, follow up your sales pitches with clear calls-to-action.
- Provide them a button or link to contact you after explaining what your company does.
- Connect them to related services or products after they view a product.
- If you’re talking about other services or products within a page of content, link to those products or services within your own website (internal linking), which helps not only with usability but with SEO.
All in all, give the user the experience that they deserve and expect. Just because a website is online and not necessarily tangible, doesn’t mean we should treat it differently then any kind of offline sales experience. Attract the user, tell them one hell of a story, and give them the means to pay you for your offerings.