There are a number of ways you can categorise different websites, but when it comes to marketing there are only two types that matter: ones that make money and those which don’t. A profitable website is no accident either – something you have to work on constantly, as markets change and your brand evolves.
Which means you want to get off to the best possible start – from the very first design session – because you’ll save yourself a lot of work (and lost revenue) in the future. So let’s take a look at the web design essentials for a profitable website to give you a head start.
It all comes down to these vital actions we call conversions – when a user clicks buy, subscribes to your newsletter or takes some kind of profitable action. You don’t necessarily need to sell a product (it could be a free eBook download), but they bring users one step closer to doing business.
Conversions are no accident either; these are the actions you want users to take and you’ll do everything in your power to make it happen – something we’ll come back to later.
The 15-second rule
Generally speaking, you have less than 15 seconds to convince first-time visitors they should stick around. The rest will hit the back button without giving you a second thought – a pretty scary stat – but you don’t have to sit back and let the potential leads slip away. There’s a limit to how much information a user can absorb in 15 seconds and the key elements here are visual design and the small amount of content they can consume in those precious seconds.
The visual design of your site needs to communicate professionalism, as well as your brand identity, in an instant. Visitors should feel they have come to the right place – a business they can trust with their money and expect both excellent customer and user experience. And, finally, your content needs to grab their attention and get moving on to the next page.
Calls to action
This is where your calls to action come in and these are vital, not only for moving people past the first page, but also the final push for most of your conversions. Typically, calls to action come in the form of buttons, but they can be simple lines of text or anything else as long as they convince users to take the all-important action you have in mind.
There’s so much going on with modern websites you could almost forget the importance of page content, but this is still your biggest asset for turning visitors into customers. Content is what people are looking for when they land on your website, but the type of content any user could be looking for varies so much now. This is where audience research proves vital, because you need to know what content your prospects are looking for, which format (text, image, video, etc.) they want and deliver it in a way that keeps them moving along the buying process.
Which is where we need to take a moment to talk about user experience – perhaps the single most important factor for any profitable website. No matter how good your content, calls to action or visual design may be, if you fail to deliver on user experience you can kiss your leads goodbye.
User experience is a huge topic and the specifics vary across different types of website. But the general rule is pretty simple: your website not only needs to be easy to use, but an absolute pleasure that makes your competition look like second-rate alternatives.
Conversion rate optimization
As promised, we’re back to talk about conversions once again and this is where you start to see how much work is involved with maintaining a profitable website. When conversions are your profit, it goes without saying you want as many as possible; which is where conversion rate optimisation (CRO) comes in.
CRO is the process of optimising your website to improve business performance – and user experience plays a massive role here too. Typically, you’ll test and experiment with specific elements on your website (calls to action, layout or anything else) to see which gets better results. Over time you should end up with a fine-tuned website that performs more effectively and increases your online profits as the years roll by.