Website design is beyond just what a site looks like, it encompasses how it is used and the outcomes it produces. With content available to you, me, your clients, your prospects, and your audience waiting to be discovered in every direction, good web design is more crucial to the success of your business than ever.

Let’s look at how website design can be a huge asset or a devastating liability.

Website Design to Engage Audience

Top 5 Benefits of Great Website Design

BENEFIT #1. Generate Leads

While referrals are one of the very best pillars of growth, if you want to grow beyond “just getting by,” you need more than just referrals to even sustain your business long term. Between attrition and the growing competition clamoring to be better than you at every turn, you risk a turn from profitability to decline at any moment in your business’s lifecycle.

Keep your edge sharp. Use the tools that work to bring in those customers you would never even know about if you rely solely on referrals.

Websites can be an excellent source for leads, if you use it right.

Optimized Landing Page

One way to grab leads is to have a strong landing page optimized to convert for bringing in email addresses. The success of this landing page hinges on a VERY good download offer / lead magnet / giveaway, well designed page, well executed follow up automation, and testing and adjusting to maximize conversion of visitors to email sign ups.

Blog Posts with Lead Capture

Another way to generate leads is to consistently write blog posts that speak to the needs of your audience, answer their questions, then offer a related giveaway.

An example would be an article that tells sellers 10 tips to sell your house 10% quicker for 5% more money, then have a really valuable download available at the bottom of the post – specifically speaking to the needs of sellers. If you can provide a reliable solution to a pervasive solution most sellers struggle with – for free – they’ll be happy to sign up to receive it.

Chat Bot on Contact Page

» How Important is the Contact Page?

The Contact Page is an extremely important page for both lead capture and SEO. According to KoMarketing, 64% of homepage visitors want to see the company’s contact information. That is a huge segment of visitors!

64% of homepage visitors want to see the company's contact information. That is a huge segment of visitors! Click To Tweet

Think about it this way, someone goes to your home page. They look at it, read content, then make the decision to click the words, “Contact Us.” Psychologically, that’s a pretty big step!

» Attack Marketing with Chatbots

So what is a chatbot? Here, I’m specifically referring to Facebook chatbots. You can create contact lists and funnels, give away free downloads, sell your products and services, and work it as you would any other email list.

You can set chatbots up through your Business’s Facebook page, as well as your website. Cutting edge marketing is heading towards integrating chatbots as the on-page chat option for websites, as well as a more effective alternative for Contact Page communication.

» Chatbots Lead in both Sign Up and Prospecting Engagement Conversion

Chatbots are getting a lot of attention right now for their seemingly staggering open and engagement rates. Moz reports that “According to MailChimp research, the average email open rates are between 15% to 26% with click rates being just a fraction of that at approximately 2%–5%. That’s pretty low when you compare that to Messenger messages, which can have an open rate of well over 90%.”

But what about replacing a form with a Facebook chatbot? Well, the chatbots appear to be outperforming the more traditional forms. When comparing chatbots and forms for lead generation, Databox.com says that “most entrepreneurs (approximately 50%) say that chat yields the highest on-site conversion rates.”

» Chatbots are a Valuable Lead Generation Tool

The ease of use, attachment to a communication platform more and more people use as their primary source (Facebook Messenger), and incredible conversion rates, make chatbots a valuable lead generation tool.

The ease of use, attachment to a communication platform more and more people use as their primary source (Facebook Messenger), and incredible conversion rates, make chatbots a valuable lead generation tool. Click To Tweet

BENEFIT #2. Provide Information to Clients and Prospects

Your blog is an excellent way to share your knowledge and general industry knowledge by answering questions your clients and prospects ask you all the time.

As your blog library builds, you’ll be able to reply to messages and emails asking those questions with links to your website. This not only drives more traffic to it, but really shows people that you know – and share – your market and the industry.

In a more practical sense, your audience will really appreciate relying on you to answer questions that they have.

BENEFIT #3. Build Your Brand

Your website is an extension of your brand.

When someone goes to visit your site – if that is their only exposure to you and the message and “look” that you want to deliver, is your website designed to do that?

It really should.

If you are a high-end real estate broker, you want your website design to be clean, modern, and deliver a truly high-end experience.

When your audience are investors,  you need to get to the point and give them the nuts and bolts of what they’re looking for – quickly and easily. The aesthetic should be practical, professional, and work extremely well.

BENEFIT #4. Position Yourself as a Market Leader

Combining your brand style guide and providing the information you provide to clients and prospects, you are positioning yourself as a market leader.

Add social media posts that reiterate the strategy used in building and growing your website messaging and branding, and you have a powerful machine to drive it home.

BENEFIT #5. Sell Stuff

One other benefit to great website design is that you can effectively sell your products and services.

When you provide at least 80% value to the audience where you give them what they’re looking for WITHOUT asking for anything in return, then they are ready (and often looking) for what you are offering in terms of services or goods.

Great website design nurtures the visitor into a state of readiness to act on that curiosity.

Website Design - How a Bad One Hurts Business

Just as great website design can open amazing opportunities for businesses at every level, bad website design can destroy those opportunities.

I don’t mean that a bad website simply doesn’t help, I mean it can actually hurt your business!!

Top 5 Destructive Outcomes of Bad Website Design

DESTRUCTION #1. Chips Away at Your Credibility

You spend time, money, and energy on building your skills, ability, and business. You are at the top of your game, and ready to scale up.

If your website doesn’t reflect the level of professionalism, personality, passion, and service that you offer in person, then that 24-hour employee (your website) is really a poor representation of you.

Carefully review the information on your website to ensure it is accurate, relevant, and up to date.

If you don’t exhibit those characteristics through your website, then potential clients will have a tough time understanding what you have to offer beyond your competition.

DESTRUCTION #2. Frustrates What Would Have Been Possible Clients

According to a report from the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA), 77% of agencies believe that poor website UX (user experience) is a weakness for their clients, making poor UX the most significant weakness agencies identified. (HubSpot)

How important is user experience (or UX)?

Think about it – the experience your user, or visitor to your website has, leaves an impression. If the UX is a weakness in your website – that means that user experience is not good.  When you go to a website and your experience is poor, what is your impression of that company or brand?

Do you have room in your marketing to leave a bad user experience for any of your clients or prospects?

Why waste this type of loss on something that offers so many other benefits if you improve it??

DESTRUCTION #3. Loses You Money

SmallBizTrends.com shares that 42% of consumers won’t buy from a poorly designed website!

42% of consumers won't buy from a poorly designed website! Click To Tweet

Again, don’t waste money by offending potential buyers before they’ve even talked to you.

DESTRUCTION #4. Embarrasses People Who Send Referrals

A Story About Sheila

Picture your favorite client Ed. He refers his mom, Sheila, to you. She’s downsizing and wants the perfect condo for active living.

Sheila isn’t much on technology, but her grandkids gave her a smartphone and taught her how to ask Google anything.

She hasn’t sold or bought a home in years, so this is a big (kind of scary) step. Her son is helping her through the process, but her husband of 35 years just passed, and she’s nervous about navigating this huge change.

So, Sheila asks Google, “hey Google, who is (your name)?” Google pulls up your website.

It’s not responsive, so the words are too tiny to even see.

Now you’ve left it up to fate – hopefully, Sheila will still contact you, but it may take a while.

The Moral to the Story

This story illustrates a lot of issues with bad websites.

Ultimately, in this case, you’ve not only frustrated this potential client, but you’ve embarrassed your original client. He trusted that your professionalism in person would be better represented across the board.

If your brand exists anywhere, make sure it’s consistent. You want Ed to keep sending you referrals without having to worry that you’re not represented well …. anywhere.

DESTRUCTION #5. Hurts Your Feelings

It may hurt your feelings to have someone tell you that your website sucks.

Like in every area of business, you can only improve what you are aware of and willing to tackle.

Like in every area of business, you can only improve what you are aware of and willing to tackle. Click To Tweet

Put your ego aside and get real about your online presence.

A True Story

As you are imagining websites, what makes them “good,” and what makes them “bad,” wouldn’t it be nice to see examples?

I agree.

However, I’m just not comfortable picking on business websites in public.

So, in the video below, I take  you on a journey through Page 1 of the Downtown Billings Alliance Membership Directory. I am a huge fan of the organization and my neighborhood businesses, so I keep comments to a minimum.

(Below the video is a list of things I’m looking for as I click along)

Here is a list of things going through my head at first glance as I look at websites.

When doing a full evaluation, we take much more into consideration. Here are a few of the basics.

1. Does the directory link work?

When someone uses a search engine to find a solution, a lot of factors go into determining among the hundreds of thousands … or millions …. even billions of search results for that search term.

One, more heavily-weighted variable is the inbound link. When a website that is not your own has a link back to your website – that is an inbound link.

As a member of organizations, a listing with a link to your website is often added to the membership directory.

Go through your listings to confirm that the name, address, phone number, website address, and email address are consistent among the listings.

Also – make sure your website address is hot linked to your website. If it is hot linked, you can click it and go to your website. Test it to ensure it’s correct.

2. Is your website “responsive”?

HubSpot reports that Between December 2013 and December 2015, smartphone internet consumption grew by 78%. (Source: comScore).

Optimize your website for a great user experience across devices: desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. It is becoming more important all the time.

Optimize your website for a great user experience across devices: desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. It is becoming more important all the time. Click To Tweet

Responsive vs. Mobile Sites

In the video, you can see that I drag the browser screen, making it smaller, to test for responsiveness. Some are not responsive – meaning, they do not re-adjust the way the pieces of the website look so it looks good and is easy to look at and navigate on smaller devices.

However – some websites that are not responsive are mobile friendly because they have a separate website for mobile devices.

When you pull up a website on a browser like Chrome or Safari, it detects the size the user is viewing the website on. A responsive website responds to the size, and the visitor can see that same page on two different devices – it adjusts based on the size so the user’s experience can be awesome either way.

If there is a Mobile Website for a given domain, when the browser detects a smaller screen, it redirects to a different page completely reformatted.

I prefer responsive websites, which is what we build, based on what I’ve read about SEO. I’m planning on doing more research and will post updates on this website and/or social media.

Non Responsive Website Design Example

The names and contact information of this website have been removed to protect the innocent.

3. Is it secure with an SSL Certificate?

What is an SSL Certificate

Simply speaking, it assures the web user that you are who you say you are.

You add an SSL certificate to your domain (example.com).

When you enter a web address into a browser like Chrome, Explorer, Firefox, or Safari, if there is an SSL, you’ll sometimes be able to see that the domain starts with “https://” and will say “Secure” in green, with a green lock icon next to it.

Insecure website URL’s begin with “http://” and will say “Not Secure” in grey letters.

Click here for more from GoDaddy about SSL’s.

Website Design should include SSL

Why It’s Important

Google has been warning for years about noting insecure sites in Chrome and penalizing them on search results.

It’s really happening, so make sure your site has an SSL.

Google has been warning for years about noting insecure sites in Chrome and penalizing them on search results. It's really happening, so make sure your site has an SSL. Click To Tweet

4. Does it look good?

38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive. (Source: Adobe /HubSpot).

Can you afford to lose more than a third of your visitors, just over website design that doesn’t look good?

As you look through the websites I clicked through in the video above, consider your thoughts about what looks good.

What looks modern?

Beyond just the “pretty” and “clean” and “not too crazy busy” factors of website design, remember that your business is being judged as to whether you are the best person to hire or yours is the best product to buy TODAY.

If someone walked into your office and saw you typing on an IBM typewriter to the light of a lava lamp, they would just your relevance when it comes to current technology and design.

Think about how important that is to a buyer considering taking advice from you about their next home …. or a seller who may end up taking your advice about how to prep her home for sale.

Your website is an extension of your brand, so use it well.

CTA in Amazing Website Design

5. Does it have a clear Call to Action?

When you arrive at the website, no one wants to be bombarded with words and pictures all over the place. We feel secure in what to do next – and not scared and ready to run away – when there is a clear call to action.

Whether it’s to check out a category of product, ask the viewer questions, offer something cool, or meet some other goal, pare down the call to action so the visitor isn’t overwhelmed. Guide your audience through your site.

Your navigation should be easy, but not obtrusive, for return visitors and people you’ve sent to your site to find something specific.

6. Is the email address “branded”?

Once you’ve spent thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands on your website, branding, advertising, and more – it seems a huge waste to leave your branding off of the many opportunities you have to share your website address within your own email.

Think about it – when you sign into a seminar, attend a convention, send an email to a friend, or even attend an open house: that email that you give out could lead someone to your website!!

When you sign into a seminar, send an email to a friend, or even attend an open house: that email that you give out could lead someone to your website!! Click To Tweet

If your email address ends with @aol.com, @yahoo.com, or even @gmail.com, STOP! Go to your web developer or IT person and ask they set you up with an @yourwebsite.com email address. If you want to continue to get mail at those addresses, it’s easier than ever to have email forwarded or even linked into those big-name branded email addresses.

You are letting a huge opportunity pass you buy if you don’t.

7. If I’m being totally honest, I look at the favicon.

Am I the only one who sees this? I assure you – I’m not.

Look up at your browser tab – if you are on Chrome or a similar browser, you’ll see a little icon for a website on every tab that’s open. That little icon is a “favicon.”

Whose icon is showing?

It should be YOUR LOGO ICON!!

If it isn’t, whose brand are you advertising? It’s likely blank or advertising your website host or manager. It’s time to advertise YOUR brand.

website design includes details like favicon

How Does Your Website Measure Up?

After reading all this, tell me. Does your website help or hurt your brand?

If it hurts your brand, let’s set up a time to talk about options.

If it HELPS your brand – yay! Continue to point all of your marketing towards that amazing website to optimize all facets of your marketing so you can bring in more leads and turn more of them into sales.

If it’s neutral …. tell me … is “fine” ok? If you hate that word (like I do), then it’s time to take action.

We offer a free 30 minute consultation to review your site and discuss next steps. Click here to get the ball rolling, or give us a call at 406-530-7055.