This article originally appeared on American Express Open Forum.The average person stays on a webpage for less than a minute. There are many factors that drive visitors away, as well as factors that keep them on the page and returning.
Truman Hedding is the founder of web site design service, TruInteractive. He and his team created a question-and-answer tool that uses a mathematical equation to determine what services are best for individuals wanting to take the web site design process into their own hands. Although his tool operates under the assumption that every web site is unique, the mindset of most consumers in relatively the same: “Give us fast results and tell us as soon as possible why we should do business with you.”
Over the past eight years, Truman has witnessed the same mistakes when it comes to creating a web site. Regardless of the industry, the same pitfalls will steer potential customers away.
Here are seven tips Truman provided for making a web site appealing to visitors:
1. Create An Appealing Design: First impressions are everything. No matter how accomplished or customer-service oriented your company is, if your site isn’t aesthetically pleasing, people will leave. Unprofessionalism is also associated with poor design.
“The main reason we see poorly designed layouts is a lack of priorities and/or resources. Although information exists on how to create effective designs, it’s another story to take action on it. Even those who work in design can still lack the basic skills to make a website successful because they don’t stay on top of trends and listen to what experts say on the subject.
2. Design Should Be In Tandem With The Business: A great design isn’t the end of it. Your design has to match your business, the products you are selling, or the services you are offering.
“If the site is about making money at home, you’d be able to get away with long content pages, big fonts, and clip art. If the site was about settling tax debt, you couldn’t get away with the same design. You’d need structured content, modern, clean font, solid colours, and professional images.”
3. Put It All Up-front: People come to your site for a reason. It should not be a mission to find the desired information, and if this is the case, you’ll lose a potential customer. Your site’s navigation should be structured, simple, and easy to find.
“Internet users are spoiled and impatient. Right away we want to know who you are, what your offer is, why it is better than others, and who else is doing business with you.”
4. Eliminate Interstitial Webpages: Interstitial pages are pages that appear, covering the entire webpage, before you can view the expected page. It is rarely advised that you use this type of advertising, but there are rare cases where it may work.
“Interstitial pages affect the repeat visits to your site no matter how big your company is. Users simply don’t like ads shoved in their face. Forbes uses interstitial pages, but they are an exception; they carry years of trust and credibility. Personally, I continue to visit Forbes.com because I know the end result is what I’m looking for, but others will not.”
5. Take Advantage Of Heat Maps: Heat maps help businesses by exposing the spots on webpages that are attractive to visitors. Truman has begun using a newer form of Heat Map tracking that records the mouse moves of site visitors in the form of a video, providing tremendous insight into the consumers’ mind.
“Heat Map tracking gives you insight to what content users like and don’t like. For example, on a recent site we promoted, we used Heat Map tracking and found than an inconspicuous link on the footer was the most clicked element on the page. We moved the link to the top of the page and enhanced the message on that page, which resulted in a 50% conversation rate. Or, you may find out through Heat Map tracking that people are not visiting your “About” page. You might try changing “About” to “Why (Company’s Name)?,” let Heat Map tracking run for 1,000 visits and find that users respond better to “Why (Company’s Name?”
6. Omit Auto Registration: According to Truman, requiring visitors to register to your site before viewing content is more obnoxious than a pop-up advertisement. There are other alternatives to registration that are less obtrusive.
“Include an option to register somewhere else within your site. The only way you could require registration is if you have something to offer that someone couldn’t get elsewhere, such as with Groupon.com, although even they will let you view their deals if you click their logo.”
7. Make A FAQ Available: No matter how good you think you’ve made your site, people are still going to have questions and the best businesses anticipate this.
“It’s important for any website to have a FAQ for three reasons: 1) Everyone has questions; 2) We’ve seen the FAQ page on client sites to consistently rank in the top five most viewed pages; 3) It shows that you’re addressing the consumers needs.
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