Crafting a business website as a valuable asset and a beautiful representation of a business's brand is a confluence of many diverse skills. One of the most important of these is matching the expectations of your audience, leveraging the de facto standards of the web medium. Having assessed many business web presences over the years, we repeatedly see some very easily rectifiable mistakes. In this blog post we explain each and offer methods to resolve them.
1Too many menu items. The main menu on your website should contain, ideally, 7 items (±2). The reason for this is to avoid information overload - we can only keep 7±2 items in our working memory at any single point in time. The number 7 comes from a famous 1956 Psychological Review paper by cognitive psychologist George Miller which is one of the most highly cited in psychology. To reduce a main menu to fewer items, we can relegate the less important items to other menu areas such as footer menus, and/or we can use drop down sub-menus to futher chunk the items, organising them to assist visitors quick understanding of the information being presented.
2Your about us pages rehashes what you do. A surprising amount of "About us" pages don't actually tell us about the business and its people. In fact, we commonly find that the about us page rehases what the company does rather than why they do it. That's a very important distinction. The purpose of an about us page is to display how trustworthy you are as a business. To do that you need to tell me your name and where you are in the world. Even more importantly, tell me why you do this work, how you got into it and why you love it. Tell me your story, tell me why you do what you do. This builds huge trust and helps me to be more comfortable transacting with because now I know you just a little bit better.
3Contacting you is difficult. All too often contact pages display some but not all information expected. It may sound trivial but these details also play into trustworthiness. Display your business name, full postal address with postal code. Display your telephone numbers, social media account contacts, and a general email address. If you have seperate departments explain what details to use for each type of enquiry be that sales, support or customer service. Ideally name a person for each contact telephone number, e.g. Call Susan on (01) 123 456 78. When presenting a phone number space the digits out to make it more readable and use the tel protocol to correctly mark-up the number so it can be clicked on to make the call, i.e.
<a href="tel:0112345678">(01) 123 456 78</a>
Register your business free of charge with Google Business Listings to get your business listed on Google Maps. Google send you a postcard with a code to verify your existance at that address. This also helps customer find you when using Google Maps.
Lastly, include an actual contact form rather than just using a mailto linked email address. When a mailto link is clicked on a desktop, it directs the computer to open the default email client programme. The chances are the user doesn't use a desktop email client instead favouring webmail. The trend of moving from client-based to web-based email has been steady. However, because most smartphones require the user to have a default email app selected, clicking a mailto link there results in a good user experience. Having both options available give you the best coverage right now.
4The very busy home page. The purpose of the home page is to immediately impress upon the visitor what your business does, and then offer suggestions as to what navigation they might follow to engage with you. Very often, home pages are loaded with competing CTAs or lack definitive CTAs. Structuring and organisation are the key again here. Identify the top actions you want visitors to take. That may be to call you up, to navigate through a direct sale, to request a quote, to signup for a mailing list, or to follow you on social media. Place the calls to the specific actions you want to encourage closer to the top left of the page and use the spaces available within your home page design to display the more important CTAs in descending order of importance towards the bottom right hand corner. Note that the ordering rule here changes if your audience come from a culture where the language is not read in the top-left to bottom-right direction, including Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic. The more important CTAs can be presented multiple times too, in varying formats (via imagery, via heading text, in a slider etc.) displaying their significance.
5Weak navigation structures. A strong navigation structure is in its essence, good categorization or classification. We put things together that are like each other, and we expect to find things together that are like each other. There are many classification schemes which can be useful to leverage where suited and at the core of these principles is that the scheme or mix you use suits your visitor audience.
6Not much (or too much) above the fold. Many websites we see now have a home page slider taking up most or all of the space above the fold. A good home page slider will display the important CTAs along with text explaining what they mean. This text should be contained in an overlay (rather then embedded in the image), for many reasons. Overlaid text is visible to search engines and can help your rankings. Overlay text is easier to edit via your CMS, so you're more likely to update it more often. Finally, overlay text can often work better for responsive design, allowing you to present a shorter or more appropriate message to visitors on smaller screen devices. The above the fold space is valuable real-estate in web terms. Take advantage of it by presenting the important things upfront, but don't be afraid of maintaining empty space around those - it keeps the area uncluttered and helps keep attention on your priorities.
7Chunking. Another term from psychology, actually originating in Miller's 1956 Magic Number paper, chunking helps visitors process the information we present. To take advantage of chunking we have a number of tools to visually present information. Using space between blocks of content, using images to illustrate and visually confirm messaging, and using elements such as emboldening, sub-headings, bulletted lists, numbered lists, quotations and indentation can all help the chunking process.
These 7 items are the most common flaws we have seen over and over again. They are often quite easy to fix and can collectively increase the user experience and conversion ratio through your preferred call to action manifold.
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