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H ow Is The Soup?
So the Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and put nothing before her but some soup in a very shallow dish. The fox can easily lap up the soup, however, the stork cannot drink it with its long beak. ~ Aesop Fable, The Fox and the Stork
Does the fox understand his dinner guest? Will the stork RSVP to another invite?
When it comes to Website Design, discussing monetary benefits of usability design and engineering is difficult. And it’s infinitely more difficult to persuade stakeholders to invest in it.
Designer: Well, you know, if we are able to improve our users’ workflow by helping them navigate the site faster…
Manager: If they’re blazing through the pages then how likely is it they’ll click on an ad? Or read my bio? Or buy my products?
Looking out for your users and looking out for your business should not be two contradictory goals. I will argue that human-centered design, i.e. looking out for your users, is 20% of the effort, and at least 80% of the payout. If you focus your energy on that 20%, the rest (disclaimer: assuming your goals are clear, you’re targeting the right people and your product or service is good) will sort itself out. I know, it sounds idealistic, and I am simplifying here, but only because I want to stress the importance of understanding and respecting your customers, giving them what they need, and once they’re convinced, asking them for something in return.
The problem with building digital products with the main goal of selling, is that ego sometimes gets in the way. It’s your company and you love it , and you want your customer to love it just as much.
Below are common ego-related design issues, and an explanation of why they might not be the best solutions after all.
Make the Logo Bigger
This is a very common, and very simple client request; “Just make the logo bigger.”
Generally, clients want the brand to be more noticeable and prominent. The natural reaction is to increase the size of the logo. However, is your brand ego the driving force behind this request?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Heck yes.
Let’s start with some cold, hard facts.
Making the logo bigger can actually have a negative affect on your website. There, I said it.
Think about it though. While brand recognition is crucial to any marketing initiative, there are other goals that are very important. Usability, for one. Finding a good balance between all of these is, after all, the ultimate goal of the website.
While you want your customers to be just as excited about your brand as you are, you’re probably sending the wrong message. The website is not built to serve you, but rather to serve the wants & needs of your users.
Consider this. There are many elements on your website. Some of these elements, unlike the logo, actually bring value. No one is actually buying the logo, so why does it need to be the most dominant element on the page?
You’d be losing valuable screen real estate (especially on mobile) as well as potentially coming across as loud or even distrustful. It is not the logo that will bring customers back to your website, it’s the content, the service, and the trust that you establish that will make your customers return.
So, allow me to summarize ~ Make It Prominent, Not Dominant.
Cramming Everything on the Homepage
Danger! Danger! Information Overload!
While it may be tempting to show your potential customers everything you have to offer right off the bat, you’re running the risk of overwhelming them and decreasing the chances that they will delve deeper into the site. The sheer amount of information available can make the site a nightmare, and luckily, the solution is simple and consists of three steps: prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
If you’re looking for your customers to convert, give them less. Figure out what the goal of the homepage is and try focusing solely on that. In most cases, you’d probably want them to get to Page 2, whether that’s Services, Blog or Contact; whatever pays the bills.
Remember, customers define a great web experience by being able to find what they’re looking for, and finding it quickly. This means that cramming in a bunch of text, buttons, four different calls to action, ads and videos can get confusing, and have the opposite effect of what is desired.
Eliminate distractions. Take away anything that doesn’t add value to the user. You’ve managed to get them this far. They’re on your homepage and they’re listening to you, don’t give them a reason to leave just because you’re eager to tell them everything at once. Let the story unfold.
Which brings me to my next point.
The Fold . Oh Geez . The Fold
The fold is bogus. The fold is a misnomer. Stop the madness!
This one is not even your fault. If you’ve spent any time at all learning about online marketing, conversion-rate optimization and landing page design in general, you were told over and over to never put the call to action below the fold.
I have breaking news for you. You have been lied to.
Let’s give this story some context first. What is the fold, anyway?
“Above the fold” is a phrase originally used to describe the “upper half of the front page of a newspaper, where an important news story or photograph is often located. Papers are often displayed to customers folded so that only the top half of the front page is visible. Thus, an item that is “above the fold” may be one that the editors feel will entice people to buy the paper.”
On the web, the fold is a horizontal line, below which the content of a web page is not visible without scrolling.
While the analogy is cute and somewhat understandable, let’s examine whether it actually holds true today.
Fact: Placing elements at the top of the screen does not guarantee they’re visible because people often scroll right away. Just because something is visible doesn’t mean that it gets noticed. Let’s not confuse “viewability” with actual viewing.
Data tells us that just under 70% of visitors saw the very top of the page they were viewing. In fact, more engagement happens right at and below the fold, than above.
If you’re assuming that putting a big call to action button above the fold is the best way to drive conversion, you’re most likely wrong. You’re also missing out on the more important point of placing calls to action.
Ready for a shocker? The fold has nothing to do with it. The fold is actually a red herring.
The issue isn’t whether or not your content is viewable. The issue is whether you’re placing your call to action at the place where your user is already convinced that they should take action. In other words, provide value and information before asking for a purchase.
To quote Gary Vaynerchuck, “There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup.”
Asking for Too Much Too Soon
Great. You’ve managed to convince your prospective customer to get in touch with you and further discuss the idea of doing business together. They go to your contact page (which they could easily find, Congratulations!) only to find too many fields spanning across their tiny device. Now what?
I know what you’re thinking: “I got them this far, why would it matter how many fields there are? After all, I need all of that information.”
Do you? Do you, really?
Too often these forms are designed with the business in mind; neglecting the needs, and more importantly, the constraints of their users.
First of all consider this; until the customer has actually made a payment, the sale cycle is not complete. They can back out at any moment.
Standing between the user’s goal and the business’s goals is a form.
No one likes filling in forms. Especially on mobile devices, with imprecise input tools (our fingers). Now imagine you’re asking users to fill in a form requiring for their first name and last name (alas, in separate fields), phone number, address, state, zip code, reason of inquiry, annual revenue and god forbid their mother’s maiden name. You’re probably asking too much too soon. Is 5 minutes of interacting with your company’s website really enough for them to decide to trust you with their personal information? I’m sure you’re great and all, but maybe your competitor will let them make casual contact using just their name and email.
Bam, you lost a customer!
More importantly, what you also lost is a golden opportunity to further prove yourself, and connect with your customer on a more personal, human level.
Relationships are based on trust. And just as in any relationship, getting to know the other person is essential. Take time to craft a thoughtful email response to the person asking for more information about your product or service. Get to know them. Communicate using appropriate language and make sure they know you’re considering their specific needs, and asking questions that are specific to their problem. Only then will you have made a customer for life.
Don’t let your ego and business goals get in the way of usability.
More often than not, by letting your brand prominence and business goals be more important than the end goals of your user, you’re hurting your business and asking for trouble.
With usability on your side, you don’t need to push users down the purchase funnel, you can simply lead the way and let them decide which path to take.
And I can assure you, not only will they RSVP to your metaphorical dinner invite, they’ll keep coming back for seconds; so now, you can both have your soup, and eat it, too.
We Design & Build Highly Converting Websites That Care About Your Customers.
We want to thank Sunny Shah for allowing us to use his brilliant artwork depicting the Fox & the Stork. As creatives we respect & appreciate, unique & original works of art; these are the vital assets that elevate our projects and make them extraordinary.