The new year is upon us and we have one BIG message…LESS is more in websites.
Yes, less. Fewer words. Fewer distractions. Cleaner code. Easier navigation.
That’s the big picture. Now for the details:
No matter how attached you are to your site’s cool and funky sliders, java add-ons, doodads, sparkles, and animations, it’s time to Marie Kondo it. The goal is to have a site that is so simple that visitors have no chance to be distracted, get lost, and miss your message.
The good news? It’s easier than you think to simplify even the messiest site, you just have to trust your designer.
2. SAY NO TO TRENDS
In my experience, those clients who have demanded we design to match current trends (and especially hose who micromanage the process) aren’t the most successful. Following trends means you’re intent on fitting in with your competitors instead of standing out. I don’t think there’s one guaranteed path to digital success, but being just like everyone else is one damn sure path to failure.
And if you’re focusing on the bottom line, the best way to have a dated site that you’ll need to rework every year (at further expense) is to follow trends rather than focusing on your audience’s experience.
3. USE SIMPLE LANGUAGE
A simple Google search for “jargon” offers up a fantastic list of words NOT to use in your marketing: “Land and expand” – sales jargon meaning to sell a small solution to a client and then once the solution has been sold, to expand upon the same solution in the client’s environment; from “blue-sky thinking” to “drink our own champagne” to “boil the ocean” and “synergistic perspectives”…these could easily be a list of “terms that make Heather want to cut someone.”
And it’s not just jargon! Marketers and wannabes have been hiding less-than-stellar results in plain sight for as long as ads have been around. The thing is that word play doesn’t work on the high end clientele most of these marketers are trying to attract.We can spot a scam from 3000 ft these days, and anyone who is trying to get fancy with words is going to get caught.
If there’s a way to be more direct on the pricing, the value, the service offerings – all of the important things prospects use to choose you (or choose NOT you) – then find it. Plain language often feels, to the uninitiated, like weak marketing but it’s marketing that works.
4. USE SOCIAL PROOF WISELY
Social proof has many faces. Reviews and recommendations have taken the top spot on believable social proof over testimonials – it’s the different of being friends with a prospective hire’s former boss versus of having to rely on chosen references – because they’re more open.
Do you have awesome FB reviews? Screenshot them! Google reviews? Link to them! Because you aren’t involved in the process, the output is trusted way more than testimonials.
Oh sweet! I don’t have to go through the awk process of getting testimonials anymore! NOPE! Sorry, you still need ‘em. They are an important part of your social proof. So how do you make the most of them?
Traditional design had us sticking all testimonials on a separate content page, but after reviewing analytics for hundreds of clients, that is probably the worst place for them. Reason? No one goes to the testimonial page…like no one.
Instead, sprinkle your testimonials all over your site – front page, service page, about page – use snippets or full testimonials to directly back up the most important claims on your site. The user will learn what you do and why people like it at the exact same time…leading to a way better experience for them, and a way better bang for your buck.
5. CHOOSE PORTFOLIO CLIENTS CAREFULLY
Your website is not simply a tool to communicate with prospects, it’s also a place where you can show your best work. Most companies – no matter what they do or sell – tend to put the biggest name clients front and centre. Totally understandable…but not necessarily right.
What if the biggest or best known clients didn’t necessarily get your most indicative work? Or if you’ve chosen not to do the type of work that you did for that famous client?
Your portfolio is a quick view of the work you want to do more of. End of story. If you have a big client that you’d never work with again or that you no longer sell the product or service that they bought, then their use on your site is a matter of social proof. They belong on your testimonial list, not in your portfolio.
By making these little changes, and keeping up to date on algorithms, conventions, and UX/SEO standards, your site will be ready to bring in the money throughout 2020 and beyond!