I am a PPC specialist and account manager, which means most of my time is spent managing Adwords accounts for businesses and agencies across the world. However, there is a reason that on my profile and my business card I add “consultant” on the end of my job title.
I also spend a lot of my time talking to my clients about other areas of marketing, advertising and design which directly affect PPC success. Website design is the biggest one of all. In this article, I will talk about how businesses need to start thinking about website design in a different way in order to enjoy success in the coming years, and the future ahead.
Yesterday I enjoyed an afternoon meeting with a prospective client, and when describing the different stages of successful PPC as I always do, I talked about the pillars of success:
- Clear business goals
- Healthy budget
- Engaging, purpose driven web design
- A strong selling point/CTA/brand message
- Correct tracking implementation
- Effective PPC account set up
- On-going Adwords management, reporting and optimisation
- Regular assessment of all these aspects
Every one of these points is important for lasting success, but today this article will focus on what I feel for most advertisers is the largest missing link.
What Most People Miss When Designing A Website
It may sound obvious, but a big point most people miss when creating a website (or more commonly updating a website design) is WHY they are creating it in the first place. A website should be designed around a function, not an idea, brand, image, or template. The function is the most important aspect of your design.
Most websites designed before 2010 were designed to provide information, not for working in a functional way where people can book, buy, call, or order easily from multiple devices. This is a very important point. In most cases, updates in mobile device technology have raced ahead of web development teams leaving many companies behind.
Most sites are not designed to simply give people the service they need in the most efficient way possible. This is where most businesses are going wrong with designing for PPC, or just designing sites in general. Before they even get to improving their PPC accounts, the foundation of a well-working website isn’t there. And it needs to be!
You Need To Answer Some Important Questions
1. How did you come to this design? Why did you choose it?
This is a simple, but very important point.
If the answer to this question is not “This design caters to my specific customer needs and makes the booking/buying process as simple as possible” then it is the wrong design. Period.
This question will make sure you are designing your website with a function in mind, not just a visual design or around a template. It sounds obvious, but losing sight of the simple goals and getting lost in the pretty graphics, sliders, templates and never ending scrolling is a lot easier than you think. It’s why often, the most simple landing pages can be the best when it comes to conversion rates.
2. How do customers engage with your business?
When do your customers call and what is the situation they call you in? Do they need fast response? Does the website mirror that need in its function as well as its design? Perhaps your customers are looking to order something? Is the buying process streamlined across devices? Is the checkout easy to use? Again more questions that help you find any potential issues or drop off points for your customers.
3. What data are you using to back up your design choices?
Look at your current site, what works and what does not. What are your biggest competitors doing and how can you do it even better? Make sure you try to use actual data to back up your decisions. The fact it “looks nice” should not be the deciding factor of your new design. Use Google Analytics behaviour reports to determine which of your site pages produce the best results and engagement from your visitors. Then, deduce what it is about that page you can replicate and expand on.
4. Do you have pages or content specific to all your products and services?
If you can’t have a landing page for every service, create one high-quality landing page with a range of options. As soon as someone lands on a page, you need to be focusing:
– What specific service do they need?
– Where do they need it?
– When do they need it?
– Why should they buy from you? I.e mention a money back guarantee etc
Understand The Mind Of Your Visitor
I’ve met many business owners who know their customer base inside and out, however how people behave differently when they are browsing the web. Site users are generally impatient, indecisive and have high expectations. They have almost unlimited choice right at their fingertips. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- Users are impatient. 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- Users like help when it comes to deciding what to buy. Too much choice can be a bad thing.
- Users don’t like to have to think too much
- Users love reviews
- Beware of pop-ups
Just Being “Responsive” Isn’t Enough
The mobile revolution is no longer on it’s way, it has already happened. Even so, many businesses still haven’t created effectively optimised mobile sites and very soon these businesses will be left eating the dust of those who have. Many have moved to responsive sites, which resize to different devices and look good across any sized screen. However, be aware that this isn’t always enough.
The idea that creating a responsive design is the answer, can be a huge misconception.
Think of a one size fits all jumpsuit. It’s only going to fit certain sizes perfectly, leaving the others…. well, with a lot to desire. This is basically how a dynamic website theme will behave if you do no optimise it properly for mobile and tablet. So, make sure that your design both looks and functions well on all screen sizes. Don’t just assume a dynamic design will magically do it all.
What Do Designed For Purpose Websites Look Like?
One great example of a site designed for purpose in my opinion, is Just Eat (Hungry house has a great site too, they are extremely similar). The online fast food/take out industry is one which has moved with the times as far as website design and phone apps are concerned, and it has really paid off.
People want food, they want it now, and they want it from close by. So there is a box to input your postcode right on the home page above the fold, which then takes you to providers of the service within the area where you can order your food, all within less than 5 minutes. The site also works exactly the same way on mobiles and tablets. The design is simple, functional and effective. That’s why I have chosen it as my example. If you have any website designs that come to mind, please share them in the comments section of this post, as great website design should always be shared.
To Sum It All UP…
Okay so we have been over a lot in this article, let’s sum up the most important points:
Have a clear message, call to action or offer above the fold.
Tell the visitor what they should do as soon as they land on the page. And keep all of the important stuff above the fold. Put your most popular products up there for people to see! Sell your business in that prime space with reviews, callouts… whatever you can!
Have a stylish but functional design.
Don’t overload with text, keep text styles consistent and keep to your brand. Remember you are always building up your company image, with every single page view you get. But, keep function and usability at the forefront of all your design efforts.
Keep it simple.
Don’t confuse with too many options both with products or pages. It has been shown that offering consumers too much choice actually causes them to be less decisive and buy less. Try to keep things streamlined and organised.
Make it responsive… but do it properly.
You will already know how important having a mobile friendly site is, but don’t just install a responsive design and consider it done. Think about how your design will feel and behave on touch devices like phones and tablets. Make sure your website is as easy to use on desktop, as it is on other devices.
Always have clickable phone numbers, or call buttons on mobile.
Consider this an add on to point 4. I this drive home to my clients constantly. If you want phone calls, have clickable phone numbers above the fold on all your pages, because it simply makes it easy for visitors to call you. Or an even better choice is to add mobile click to call buttons on your mobile site.
People hate to wait, and if your website loads slowly it will be abandoned by users.
Use data to back up design choices
Be smart and use actual data to make the big decisions when it comes to site design. Invest in what you know is already working and build on it.
Think of your customer every step of the way
With every choice you make, put yourself in the shoes of your site visitor. After all, it is understanding user experience and intent that drives true online success!
If you enjoyed this article please leave a comment below and let us know what has worked for you when it comes to site design. Plus, make sure you share any of your favourite website designs with us.