Website design strategy is more than just making a site look visually spectacular and professional. It is about grabbing a potential customers attention and leading them on a journey down a clear path to an end goal; the solution to a want or need.
In this day and age, the human attention span sits at around 6-8 seconds - that is shorter than a goldfish’s at 9 seconds! Web designers need to use a 7 second design test to evaluate the functionality of a website and whether a new visitor would know what the website offers within that first seven seconds that they land on your page.
Think of your business website like the first thirty seconds of meeting someone in person, because that is when their initial impression of you is formed. Your website will get even less time so you will need to ensure it communicates with these elements:
Use these elements of strategic design to identify your goals and assist you in meeting the business objectives that drive your website to achieve its end goal.
Consider these steps when planning a strategically designed website project:
Define your goals
You must clearly define your business goals and understand exactly what you are expecting to achieve by designing or redesigning your website.
While increased website traffic and sales may seem to be obvious end goals, they are meaningless if you don’t assess the objectives necessary to achieve the results you want. A successful website requires an effective, sustained marketing strategy that goes beyond presenting a collection of products and services. That means your website design should be focused on specific goals, along with measurable objectives to attain them.
Web design is a functional art that goes beyond a visually attractive and well-balanced layout. It is imperative that you spend the time needed to identify your website objectives. Start by listing specific website goals and corresponding objectives that fit your overall marketing strategy and capabilities. Examples might include:
Goal: Increase sales
Goal: Becoming an authoritative resource
Goal: Improve interaction with existing and potential customers
Goal: Build your brand
How your website looks and functions will depend on for whom and what purpose it is being designed. The demographics, technology, gender, age, and interest will influence your choice of aesthetics and usability.
Knowing your customer inside out is vital to the success of your website. You need to go on a journey of discovery about your ideal customer. Research everything you possibly can about them, for example:
Consider these five tips for developing a strong brand identity:
Once you have established the demographics of your audience and have a clear vision of your brand image, it’s time to sync design strategy with design decisions.
I will use Jetty as an example and the first 3 steps their homepage uses to increase registration numbers as the goal.
These 3 steps will lead you to your goal of increasing sign-ups. The strategy of directing the focus of design elements toward the goal is the same regardless of the goal. You want the aesthetics and focus that best suits the brand and audience.
If the brand is photography then focus on creating an emotional experience using shape, colour and imagery. If the website is meant to inform then make sure it’s easy to use and read. You want to create an interface that doesn’t distract the user from the content.
Every visitor could be a potential customer but there is one audience that stands apart, and the audience is more likely to be influenced by the products or services your website promotes. Focus on attracting that right audience.
Everything about the website including periodic advertising or promotions, product design, overall look, and feel are for one target group of people.
A website for motorcycles may target adults over the age of 20-45 earning $50,000 plus per year. However, that group is your target. Alternatively, a beauty website has a smaller target audience of all women with a broad age range.
If you think customers are impressed by the need to provide a detailed personal profile to sign up to your website then you will greatly reduce your conversion rate.
Paying customers like to give as little information as possible until they’ve had time to research your products and services. The more barriers you position to sign-up the quicker they will leave your website and look elsewhere. Research has shown the fewer fields on a sign-up form the more likely people are to sign-up.
Make it easy for your visitors to take the next step. If you are offering a free trial, customers are more likely to accept that offer if they don’t have to give you their credit card. If the service is web-based or the product is downloadable, then you won’t need their address.
Request only the information you need to provide a product or service and don’t ask for more than is necessary, even that should be kept brief. Simplify your sign-up forms by using only the essential fields. Monitor your conversions to see what works and what does not.
Your marketing message comes before a visitor converts to a lead. Marketing tells the potential customer about the nuts and bolts of the product or service. It answers important questions; What is it? What does it do? Why do I want it? Why your product or service over your competitors?
This information should be clearly available. Don’t make customers go hunting through your website to find these details. Put them right out there in easy to find and understand format. Include the actual cost along with how and when they will be billed. People are more likely to sign-up if they are clear about what you are selling and the term under which you operate.
There are many internal factors that can affect achieving your website goals. In spite of what you do, other things stand in the way and a small change to the website might have a tremendous effect on how your funnel is performing.
Here are some of them:
Strategic design really is just common sense. You design a product or service to meet a specific need and that product fulfills its purpose. Know your audience, define your goals and create a solid plan to ensure your website meets your expectations.