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by Kevin Johnson



When it comes to the world of Web development, it seems that trends and
opinions on the most effective options are constantly in flux.
Responsive Web design? Parallax? But at the end of the day, only one
thing should really matter for small businesses hoping to improve their
online business efforts: making conversions.

Just like any other
aspect of a small business, a website's ultimate goal should be to spur
potential consumers to action. Whether that action is a sale, an online
query or something else is determined by the business's goals, but
either way, the website needs to lead consumers into taking some form of
action.

While this may seem easier said than done for many small
business owners, the truth of the matter is that investing in a
high-quality, easy-to-navigate Web design can ultimately be every bit as
important as (if not even more so) investing in SEO and other forms of
marketing that drive traffic to the site in the first place.

Basic Choices
Creating
a successful website that will generate leads begins with choosing a
design that is visually engaging to the audience and logically guides
them to the call to action in a clear and direct manner.

Web development agency Fusion 360 recommends
making a minimalist site that is easily scanned by readers, as most Web
content is browsed rather than read word-for-word. This entails
avoiding the creation of text-heavy pages that can quickly become
overwhelming to Web browsers (particularly mobile users) who are trying
to access desired information as quickly as possible.

All text
should be clear and concise in helping consumers understand how a
company's product or services meet their needs while simultaneously
guiding them through the conversion process. This includes making calls
to action clear and direct. It doesn't help to use over-the-top, hyped
language that doesn't adequately address a potential customer's
concerns.

Stylistic choices should also remain consistent
throughout the site, allowing for easy navigation. Different areas of
the site should be clearly labelled, and navigation menus should be
placed logically so users can get where they want to go. Generally
speaking, the most important information should be placed "above the
fold"--or near the top of the screen, before a user would need to scroll
down to view more content.

Including a search option is another
important consideration that can help users more easily find the content
they are seeking. The easier a website is to use and navigate, the more
likely users will follow through on the site's call to action,
generating sales leads and other actions that fulfill the site's
purpose.

Other Conversion Tools
Beyond these Web design basics, other useful features can make a big difference when properly implemented. Business 2 Community recommends utilizing such features as customer reviews, offering live chat customer assistance, and email capture services.

The
benefit of such features stems from the additional ease-of-use provided
to customers. For example, enabling customers to leave reviews of
particular products builds a sense of trust and transparency that makes
potential consumers more confident in their purchase (just look at how
much Amazon relies on customer reviews for its successful business
model).

Providing live chat assistance can also help when
customers have questions or concerns that they want addressed
immediately while browsing the site, but small businesses should be sure
they have the resources available to such a feature before fully
implementing it on a site.

Email capture helps deal with the
surprisingly common problem of "cart abandonment"--or users filling an
online cart with items, then leaving the site before actually completing
the purchase. Widgets such as Rejoiner enable email capture of these
uncompleted transactions, which then allows for business owners to email
customers to remind them of it (hopefully prompting the sale to
actually take place).

Experimentation and Testing
However,
while an initial design and its accompanying features may appear to get
the job done properly, adapting to current Web design trends is a must
for a company's site to remain relevant and useful to consumers. What
was popular in 2010 is not necessarily still the best choice for 2015.
Before even launching a site, it is recommended to invest in A/B testing to determine which of two competing designs will ultimately yield the best results.

While
not every small business will have the budget to perform extensive A/B
testing on website designs, every company should test their site before
launch to ensure that it truly is going to be effective in leading
consumers to take the desired action.

The more testing that can
be done prior to a website launch, the better. These tests can allow
designers to identify which elements of a site's layout are not
appealing to users, and where improvements can be made to better enable a
smooth user experience. What may seem like a great idea while in
development may ultimately not provide the best functionality for users.

Even
after a website has been successfully launched, businesses would be
wise to stay up-to-date on the constantly changing trends of the
industry. User experience continues to evolve (as the rise of
smartphones has already demonstrated), and design and layout changes
will likely be a future necessity to ensure the continued effectiveness
of a site.


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