The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Website that Converts
The time when a business could get by without a website, or with a just-okay website is long gone. Now businesses of all shapes and sizes need to have a strong online presence to get (and keep) customers! Building a website that converts is an art and a science, and one that we are pretty darn good at (if we do say so ourselves). We’ve built custom websites for many different types of businesses, and we’re sharing the guiding principles we use for ensuring a website is going to turn visitors into customers.
Table of Contents
- Understanding Your Audience
- Developing Effective User Flow
- Getting the Design Right
- Driving Traffic to Your Site
Understanding Your Audience
One thing should be at the forefront of your website: your audience. Remember, you’re not building the website you personally want, but the website that speaks to your audience! To make sure you’re 100% clear on who your key audience is, we recommend taking the time to specifically define them.
Having a specific audience defined makes it easier to understand what they want and need from your website. And if you’re working with developers, it will help them better understand your website goals. First step for building a website that converts? Figuring out who it is that needs converting.
Who Are Your Ideal Customers?
The first thing you need to define? Your ideal customers. Who is your dream client? Think about the specifics:
- How old are they?
- Do they have a family?
- What is their job?
- How much disposable income do they have?
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- Do they have any hobbies, what are they?
- Where do they get their news?
- What do they worry about?
- What social media platforms do they have, and how often do they use them?
These are the sort of things you need to know about your ideal customer, and you can drill down into the details through customer personas.
What Is A Customer Persona?
One of the best ways to get a concrete idea of your audience is through customer personas. These are a research-based idealized version of your target user(s). Through the customer persona, you’ll be describing your ideal customer as if they were a real person. The persona you write should contain the key traits of a large segment of your target audience.
Creating a customer persona can be a lengthy process, but this blog post walks you through it step by step, and includes a free downloadable worksheet to help you to complete your customer personas.
Talking To Potential Customers
Now that you know who your customers are, it’s time to speak to them directly. Talking to potential customers can be intimidating, but after you’ve done the research, you should be able to hit the ground running with the knowledge you’re portraying your business in a way they would like to see. Keep the following in mind when you’re talking to your potential customers:
- It’s not about you, it’s about them. Whatever you’re showing them with your website, think about how they see it from their perspective.
- Make sure your customers know how your business benefits them! Without drowning them in text, explain how your business satisfies their needs?
- Why you? What makes your business different from your competitors? What is your USP (unique selling point) that will seal the deal?
Developing Effective User Flow
The user flow of your website is the series of steps a user takes to navigate through your site to achieve a certain goal. Basically, how do they get to your website, and how do you get them to take your desired action? When you’re building a website that converts, you’ll need to keep in mind that you want the customer to make that conversion (or reach your goal) easily and without frustration.
User flow is similar to, but not exactly the same as a user journey. Read this blog post that describes the difference between user flow and user journey.
Create An Effective Call To Action
Before you can create a user flow, you need to define what the end goal is for your user. When a prospect gets to your site, what do you want them to do? These are a few examples of goals a website can help you achieve:
- Fill out a form
- Call your business
- Follow you on social media
- Sign up for your newsletter
- Complete a purchase
The call to action (CTA) is how we get customers to fulfil these goals. When the goal has been fulfilled, you have a conversion. Your CTA could look like a button that says “call now” or it could be a newsletter pop up. Before you work on your user flows, make sure you understand what the final action should be.
Three User Flow Examples
Your website can have several valuable user flows! Ultimately it’s your job to make it easy on your customers. How can you make your website have a clear pathway from finding your site to completing the goal. Here are three examples of a website that converts, with three different end goals.
In the first user flow, the customer finds your business’s website in a search on Google, from this search they arrive on the homepage. Your website has a bold design with compelling information in the top of the page, including your strapline. They click the CTA button to learn more. This directs them to your about and services page where they are able to schedule a consultation.
This user flow starts off in a similar way: with a google search. But, instead of getting to the homepage, this search was for a specific aspect of your business and they end up on an article. The user reads the article and finds valuable information in it plus, they are able to get a free download to use later. They fill out the form for the free download and opt-in to your newsletter list.
This last user flow starts by a prospect seeing your post on LinkedIn. They click on the post which is a link to your recent blog on your website. The user likes this blog post and reads another. Through their use of your website, you are able to add this user to your remarketing audience that you can share ads with elsewhere on the internet.
Getting The Design Right
In a survey done by Hubspot, 94% of visitors close websites and stop trusting the site if it has a degraded design. This is a huge issue for businesses with outdated websites! Having a modern website design is key to gaining trust with new users right off the bat.
Elements Of Design You Need To Consider
Your website design has a lot of components that all need to work together and show the brand your ideal customer wants to see. Consider the following:
- Color Palette – Your color palette tells a lot about your brand. Are you relaxed and fun, or are you serious and all about the business? Your business color palette should have primary, secondary, and accent colors that work together and are used across your website, social media, and any branded items. See our color palette below! To play around with color palettes, you can use website tools like Canva, Adobe, and Coolors. It’s also important to choose colors with high contrast so visually impaired people can read it easily. Use this accessible colors tester to be sure.
- Typography – Typography is the type of fonts you’re using on your website. Typically a website has two fonts to keep things cohesive. One font is for the bulk of the text on your website, and the second is for words you want to bring more attention to, like the navigation or headers. Consider your brand values and how different fonts can evoke a variety of assumptions in users. Below is a description of different types of fonts.
- White Space vs Clutter – A website should be easy to read and navigate. When you see areas of a website that have no text or information, just a background – that’s called white space. It’s a visual buffer that allows the website design to direct your attention. A cluttered website with little white space tends to be hard to navigate and can be distracting.
- Photography – The photography on your website says a lot about your brand. Photography can be a great asset to your business by visually telling the story of your brand! But, images also need to be used carefully because our eyes are drawn to look at images (especially of peoples faces) more than words. And because people are naturally nosey, our eyes are drawn to things that other people are looking towards. Look at the example below. The colors on the page indicate how long people looked at the area of the screen. On the left side, users are attracted to the baby’s cute face, but since it’s looking back at us, our eyes stop there. In the other example the baby’s face is looking directly at the text on the website, subtly directing our eyes to read the content.
- Understandable Navigation – People should not get frustrated using your website, and one of the best ways to ease frustration is through clear navigation. A navigation bar at the top of your website with all the relevant links (About, contact, services), a search function, and links in the footer all help to give people easy access to the pages they want. Importantly, do not switch navigation from page to page as users will get lost and frustrated.
- Responsive / Mobile Friendly – To be a website that converts, it MUST be usable on mobile devices. As far back as 2015, more searches were done on mobile devices rather than the computer, and that number keeps rising! If your website doesn’t work on mobile devices, you’re missing out on connecting with your customers (and Google doesn’t like it either).
- Speed – Another thing your customers (and Google) don’t like – slow loading websites. A slow site can make it frustrating to use, and can get punished in the Google Search Engine Results Page. Do you know how fast your website loads? Test it out with the Google PageSpeed Insights tool!
Driving Traffic to Your Site
Now that you know what your website needs from a user and design perspective, how do you get people to use it? Getting traffic to your site isn’t always easy, but these tips will help.
Tool You Need: Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a way for you to see how people are using your website. Google needs to gather the data, so make sure you have a google analytics code on your site as soon as possible. When you do you can look at these metrics and gauge how they change over time. This is one of the ways to analytically tell if you have a website that converts.
- Users – how many people are using your website in a given week or month.
- Pageviews – how many pages those users reached.
- Bounce Rate – A bounce is counted when someone lands on your site and immediately leaves. The average bounce rate is around 41-55%.
- Referrals – This shows you where your traffic has been linked on the web, and how many users came to your site from those referrals.
- Popular Pages – What pages on your site do people use the most, make sure those are working well as sales tools!
Tool You Need: Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a powerful tool for optimizing your website for search engines. Through Google Search Console you can check on the following things that all help you create a website that converts:
- Add a Sitemap – This is a digital map of your website built so that Google knows what content you provide and can show it off in the search results. Here’s how you add it to the search console.
- Discover Site Errors – Google Search Console will notify you when your website has errors that you need to fix for best user experience.
- Links – Discover where your website has been linked to across the web.
- Performance – Find detailed information about clicks, impressions, and your average search position as well.
PPC – Pay Per Click
Another way to direct people to your website is through advertising. When we talk about PPC, or pay per click advertising, we’re typically referring to ads set up through Google Ads, Bing Ads, or social media ads. We’re sure you’ve seen Google ads before, these appear at the top of your search results. When you click on these ads, the advertiser is charged.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Every website should include some search engine optimization to make it a website that converts. This is making sure that your website works how search engines like Google prefer. Websites with good SEO are more likely to rank higher in organic search results than websites without it. However it’s important to note that PPC ads will always be above organic search results.
There are two main components of SEO: your website quality and website content. High quality websites should be secure by using an SSL certificate, available on mobile, and load extremely fast.
Websites with good content should have text on the page that speaks directly to the user’s original query, should have links to other content on the website as well as links coming in from other websites, and should have good user experience.
Building a website that converts can be a lot of work! But once you understand your customer, create a website with good design and good user flow, and get traffic to your site you should be ready to roll! At Get Online NOLA, building great websites is our specialty. If you’re ready to shine online, go ahead and contact us to book a strategy session!