Understanding Web Design
<Excerpt from our 2013 Summer Web Camp Seminar>
For years, companies have been teaching their consumers what fantastic design looks like. Product design is nearly as key to selling a product as is functionality. We know what cars are the coolest, and what phones are cutting-edge, all due to design. If your judgment was not skewed by any advertisement, you could choose the newest products based on design alone. Your website is the same. It must combine form and function, and your website visitors know when it's old, outdated, or bad design. Just like you, they've been trained by the media to recognize quality.
First thing you notice, BAM Shoe! A shoe with a call to action plastered right next too it. No chance to look around or search for those sweet penny-loafers. You're too busy looking at their latest sneaker and it's pretty and hi-res and you forgot what you came here to get, for two seconds while looking at that shoe. The design took the biggest choice away from you quickly. What do I look at first? Shoe! You like that shoe? You can shop right now. The design has set the hierarchy and the tempo. 1 - Awesome juicy shoe. 2- Let me read about the shoe. 3- Oh look, I can buy it now! One. Two. Sale.
The first focal point is contained within that dark box and, once you've escaped, the design pushes your focus downward towards more pretty pictures and we're scrolling.
The design is going to let you make your secondary choice this time. You've been on the page 5 seconds and you've been drawn in. and you click one of those buckets and now you're on an interior page. The design has guided our attention since we hit the page and held it and now that click just lowered their bounce rate, improving their SEO by the smallest of fractions and Jack's Shoe Store might be one spot higher on page 3 of Google's local search. Or maybe that tiny bit bumped him to page 2. And page two gets him more impressions, and those impressions get him more visits and Jack climbs higher.
Design is about control. Like a building we're constructing pathways to channel visitors to the content we want them to see, while allowing them to easily find what they came to see. We came for penny-loafers, but I've read an ad, watched a movie about the shoe, clicked on another product that looked interesting and now I can go search for penny-loafers. The key here is the word "I". I read the ad, I clicked the featurette below. I wanted to do that. There was no pop-up or forced advertisement. I did this myself. The design's layout encouraged me to do it. I not coming away saying. "Jack's shoe store makes you read an advertisement and watch a shoe video before you can search." It did, but I don't blame the company. I made the choice, but I didn't.
Design gets rid of the clutter and cuts a clear channel for us to follow, but it also allows us to easily navigate to our desired location. Design is forceful without us realizing it.
The next item on the page is always a tough subject to talk to business owner's about. The logo. The logo is the least important item on the page. A lot of companies want their logo to be massive. "HERE WE ARE, THIS IS OUR WEBPAGE." But it is a disservice to yourself. Why? It will not make a sale for you. It will not influence purchase and it will earn you exactly zero dollars. It is small, because it does not need to be seen. We clicked the "Jack's Shoe Store" Link. We know where we are. It is now irrelevant. It distracts from the design portion that is trying to make the sale!
Then you have these websites, which are a choose your own adventure kind of design. There is no hierarchy. everything is important as the next. Many cities have websites such as these. Not as jarring, but similar. Where does your eye go? Mine goes to the red first. To be fair, this site tries to be the ugliest website in the world and has won the award several years in a row. This is an extreme example. If I took away the word "Car" from this site, could you tell me what they are selling? One could argue that the navigation is easy to find and that the search bar is prominent. If this site was selling shoes, would you give them your credit card number? Would you give them your email or signup for a mailing list? Would you trust this company with your personal information?
Design sells for you, yes. It helps your visitors navigate your website with ease, true. But the greatest thing it does for your company? It builds trust. It says, "We care." "We're up to date." "We've invested in our company because we believe in it. so you can believe in us too."
Many people think, "Website launched, let's sit back and watch." That is a poor strategy for success. Tracking your website with Google Analytic's free A/B tracking allows you to manipulate the design to test conversion increasing changes. Just by changing the first slide, this trucking company increased lead gens by 232%.
This company changed their color structure and increased PAID conversions by 25%.
Never stop improving.