6 web design rules for a website that converts

web design rules for a website that converts
It’s 2016, and you know what that means? It’s time to stop screwing around with your website!

Whether you believe in the law of attraction (that the right people will automatically find your business online) or not, the truth is this: strategy matters. Best practices matter. SEO matters. That’s just the way it is.

I don’t care how high or attuned your vibration is — there’s probably stuff you can change on your website RIGHT NOW that will help make a difference to your bottom line. (And if you’ve got the good ol’ LOA on your side on top of that? Ka-boom! So either way, keep reading!)

Especially in 2016, when people are so busy and saturated with information left and right (and top and bottom… wooo, is it getting hot in here?!), it’s paramount to do what you can to make your website work for you so that it actually sells (because you’re running a business here, not a hobby!).

Here are 6 web design rules for a website that converts that you can apply right now, no matter what kind of blog or website you have.

1. Use your header wisely

Some people say the term “above the fold” is no longer applicable because of responsive design, so let’s just say, do this as high up on the page as you can, and especially on your homepage:

  • Tell people what you do (put your name and maybe face on your website, so your visitors can spot it within a few seconds)
  • Explain who you help and talk directly to that ideal buyer. Typically one sentence will do. Remember: benefits (ahem, results) over features!
  • Include an opt-in form that stands out at the top of the page somewhere (whether it’s a horizontal form, a 2-step opt-in in your banner, or at the top of your sidebar)
  • Don’t clutter it with BS, a.k.a. filler pics or sliders (which, by the way, annoy most people!) or lord forbid, animated GIFs

Remember: there’s a difference between pretty design and good design (that is, design that works!).

2. Tell people what to do

You’d think people would be able to read your mind by now, amirite? Sigh, it’s 2016 and humanity’s still letting everybody down. Sadly, you gotta spell it out and tell people where to go!

How? Guide your visitors through your website with calls-to-action (CTAs). Each page should have one primary CTA — whether it’s to sign up for your mailing list, check out your services, buy a product, click on an ad, you name it.

And speaking of that, make sure your navigation (menu bar) is clever clear (go here for tips on making your navigation clear and fabulous).

3. Effective CTAs

Leverage the power of descriptive copy and contrast to compel people to sign up. What the hell am I talking about? I’ll elaborate:

  • Clearly explain what people are clicking over to or signing up for
  • Make your signup/call/buy buttons stand out with contrasting colors
  • Make your opt-in forms stand out and position them strategically
  • Are you linking to a squeeze page from your navigation? Maybe make that tab a different color, give it a border, or make it a full-on color button so it stands out like a gloriously-sore-yet-appealing thumb (you know what I mean!)
  • Social sharing: let people click a button so they can share your genius posts — don’t make people copy and paste your URL into Twitter, etc. They’ll be wayyy more likely to share your shiz if you have share buttons. Same goes for “pin it” buttons that appear when people hover over an image on your blog. You’ve got plenty of options for this, including Jetpack, Share Buttons by AddtoAny, and Simple Share Buttons Adder.
  • Try a welcome gate – this tends to convert very well. It works as a landing page that is the first page people see when they hit your domain, instead of your homepage. However, it has just one or two options for people to choose from: one offering a freebie people can sign up for, and another leading to your blog or homepage — and the fact that it only has two choices is exactly why it works. And if people aren’t ready to sign up for your freebie yet? They can head straight for your site, thereby giving people who aren’t sure yet an alternative to clicking away forever, so it’s good to have both options as opposed to trying to force people to sign up for something. You can use a plugin like Optin Monster for this purpose. (Caveat: I don’t like this because it can be annoying — like popups –, arguably sleazy, and even bad for SEO, but it’s my job to inform you, superhero, so you choose whether you wanna give it a shot!)

4. Be strategic

Remember, clear wins over clever every time. And pretty isn’t necessarily what you want here. What deserves prominence? Conversely, what can you declutter?

Don’t try to promote too many things at once. For example, put the one most important thing up on your homepage. And once they’re on your list? Then, you can tell them about everything else you do.

Remove ads, big social media feeds, blogrolls, sponsor buttons, blog network buttons — anything that takes people away from your website. Keep your sidebar minimal so it’s not distracting and people can focus on the main content at hand.

Stop telling people to leave your website! You’re supposed to get them to wanna hang around and find out how fantabulous you are, remember?

5. Copy rules

Design and copy work hand in hand. Design makes you look, and copy makes you stay. Go here to read tips from pro copywriters, get their free resources, and make sure you’re doing it right.

A couple of pro tips right here, though:

  • Your About page? Is not about you! It should be about your clients. Talk about how you can help them.
  • Your opt-ins forms: be descriptive in what people will get in exchange for their email and in the button (no “submit” or “subscribe” BS copy for your buttons, folks! And if I see someone else using the words “newsletter” or “weekly tips,” I might have to chop off my big left toe.)

6. SEO

And speaking of copy, don’t forget to harness the Googly powers of search engine optimization, baby! It’s easy and super smart and worth it to optimize your website for SEO (prior to or right after you launch your website, ideally, but anytime is better than never!).

Go through your posts and pages and amplify your Google love. It’s quick, easy, and FREE, yo. No excuses!

Also be sure that your website is responsive, meaning it adapts to different size screens, since Google now prioritizes responsive sites in the results!

Need help applying these 6 web design rules for a website that converts to your site, or wanna dive even deeper? I’ve got you covered.

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8 Responses to 6 web design rules for a website that converts

  1. Spot on stuff. Though I differ, only slightly, on #5. I think about pages have to be at least a bit about the site owner. People want to do business with other people they know, like and trust. That can’t be immediate, of course, it takes time. But sharing the best bits of you is a good way to get that ball rolling.

    It’s got to be balanced and valuable, of course!

    • Hey Mallie,

      For sure, to clarify: the About page should first be about your ideal client and only then about you, but it should always be about both! If you check out my About page, you’ll see I address both points :)

      Thank you for reading and for your input!

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