“Why can’t our site be prettier?”
This is how the conversation with my graphic designer began. I had introduced him to Crayon.co a half hour earlier. Crayon is a design site and a wonderful source of inspiration. He then pulled me over to show me a website that he felt was a great example of what he thought TechZilla.com should be. I took a few minutes to look around the website. It was quickly apparent that while lovely to look at, this website failed a basic design principle – your web design must match your objective.
Here’s the site Jeff loved. This is their homepage, not a landing page. What do you think their business is? I’ve intentionally hidden their name and logo.
Web design fail – A pretty face but what do they do?
“That’s a beautiful website but it’s a big fail,” was my response.
“What the heck? You don’t know what you’re talking about. This site is gorgeous.”
“Yes it is,” I responded, “but that doesn’t mean it didn’t fail at its primary objective. Tell me, Jeff, what is their business?” “It looks like they run conferences or are a hiring firm,” he responded. “Actually, they are an online retailer and eCommerce consulting firm. It took me several clicks to figure that out,” I responded.
User testing rocks!
He still didn’t understand so I ran a couple of free Peeks. Peeks are free, short site reviews done by humans. It’s a very useful tool offered by UserTesting.com. The results matched my own perceptions. It isn’t clear exactly what they do unless you hunt for that information. That makes this website design a fail. Your site has only a few seconds to captures someone’s attention so they stick around long enough to do business with you.
Jeff then asked if I’d run peeks on TechZilla. “Yes, I have run quite a few. Would you like to see them?” He watched a couple of them and said, “they don’t comment on the design of our site at all other than to say it was easy to navigate.”
That’s exactly the point. Everyone who tested our site knew instantly what TechZilla does and offers. They commented on the product selection, they instantly knew the primary product was used phones and electronics, and that the prices were super low. Most said they’d be back when they needed a phone. That is the EXACT message I wanted them to have. He finally understood.
Techzilla.com conveys exactly what it does instantly
Website design needs to convey your site’s purpose within seconds.
Building a smart website
Your website needs to do a lot of things right to be a success:
It needs to be easy to navigate. Can your customers find what they are looking for quickly?
It needs to contain the information they need and want in order to make a buying decision?
It needs to lead them to take the action you want them to take whether that is to place an order, fill out a lead form or place a phone call.
But before it can do that, it MUST capture their attention immediately. If it fails to do so, the rest is moot as your audience will be gone.