Get to the Point.

March 6, 2013

Don’t get me wrong, I love surprise endings, but I’ve always loved TV shows and movies that tell you how it all ends right up front. You know the final outcome, but you still need to go on the journey. The second time you watch a great movie, you start to analyze why things end up the way they do. With movies that give you the ending up front, you can sit back and enjoy the journey the first time you watch it as if you were already watching the movie for the second time.

It’s a bit of a stretch, I suppose, but the same could be said for web design. Time is scarce these days in such a fast-paced world that, if a site visitor has to dig for information, you’re likely to lose them pretty quickly. Here are a few ways that you can “give away the ending” and let visitors enjoy the journey that is your website.

Disclaimer: Upon re-reading this article, I feel like it might come off a little rant-y. I’ll apologize for that up front, but I think it’s still worth the read. And if you like that sort of thing, check out the Death to Bullshit video by Brad Frost.

Make Your Services Known Right From the Start

This might seem like a no brainer, but I can’t even count on one hand the number of times I’ve visited a site to ask myself “What is it that this company does?” I think the common one-sentence opener is a little played out (“Hi! My name is Fantastic Designer and I design websites, create cool logos, etc”), but the intention is on-point. If I can’t tell within a few seconds that you do what it is I’m looking for, I’m out. Through imagery, icons, or short callouts, make it obvious to the visitor what you, or your company, can offer. Only then will I know that it is worthwhile to keep digging and see some examples or fill out a contact form/call you.

As a side note on this: I love creative mission statements, but “We Solve Problems” and “I Create Masterful Experiences” just aren’t going to work. Potential clients really just want to know exactly what they can expect.

A Few Good Examples

Present Your Work/Portfolio Quickly (Or Obviously)

So you design websites? What have you done lately? That’s what I really want to know – besides the price – when I visit a web design site. I don’t want to see everything you’ve ever accomplished, but I certainly want to see some of the recent work you’re proud of. A couple great ways to present your work quickly are through an animated slider or a few rows of thumbnails on the home page. Despite the evidence that rotating sliders aren’t effective, the reality is that the web is filled with them and they aren’t going away any time soon.

On the other hand, you may not want to showcase your work right up front. Maybe you’re just getting started or just hired a new designer. Or maybe you already have too much happening on your front page between calling out your services and showcasing your blog articles. In any case, visitors should be able to get to your list of recent work in one click. And it needs to be obvious where to click. Either in your main navigation or a glaringly obvious callout, let potential clients know where they can see what you can achieve.

A Few Good Examples

Don’t Make It Difficult to Contact You

This one really is more for your benefit than for your site visitor, but I should be able to contact you – in the method of my choosing – quickly and from any page in the website. That means, make your phone number, contact form, address, etc. readily available. A phone number and contact link at the top of the page is almost mandatory. An address would be strange – almost desperate looking? – at the top of every page, but within the footer seems appropriate. If for no other reason, a potential hire coming to your office for a meeting needs to be able to get there and your website may be the only thing they can remember.

Oh Yea….. Payments

This probably warrants a separate post altogether, but please – for the sake of my sanity – stop making it difficult to pay online! I’m not talking about whether or not you should accept payment online (that should be determined by the client’s needs), but those that already do or plan to offer online payment options. Don’t hide your payment page! It should never be difficult for people to pay you if they’re willing. If the option is available, add a link to the footer or sidebar of every page, subtly, so current clients/customers can give you the money you deserve.

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