Four Tips for Effective Web Design
According to Dave Greves, founder and principle of the Denver-based digital marketing agency Faction Media, working closely with designers and copy writers is an essential part of creating an effective Web site design. “The conversation of a usable Web design supersedes the graphical execution(s) of a site. Often the taxonomy of a Web site is the impetus for success or failure and best practices suggest that the two should work in tandem focusing on the user(s) at all times,” he says.
He encourages marketers to remember that metrics are important, and that “it’s critical to develop key performance metrics that can be regularly measured to determine the success of the Web site.” Given the cost of creating and maintaining a Web site, he says the lack of clearly defined measurements prevents effective optimization. Greves adds that when placing links to research studies, new products or expert interviews and advice, conversation should always be driven by data. He recommends using multi-variant testing and page optimization to more clearly reveal how customers interact with your onsite elements. “Without quantitative data to support the placement, organizations are throwing darts at a dartboard with high hopes for success,” Greves says. He adds that there are a variety of tools to help in this process and says researching multivariate testing “should give you a good start in finding a solution that’s right for your organization.”
Placement is Paramount
For example, Greves says, “Recently our agency attended a workshop where 100 marketers were asked to choose the most effective layout of individual elements on a Web site. Each element then had four variations such as color, placement and size. After all was said and done ,no one guessed all four correctly, no one [even] guessed three correctly, 24 percent of the audience got two right and 38 percent got at least one correct. It only goes to prove that when you make decisions by the data, removing subjectivity, you can then attain clarity.”
Greves encourages marketers to refrain from falling into what he calls the “we-know syndrome,” saying, “It’s easy to suggest you understand your audience and their needs, but challenge your organization to re-examine this perspective. Value the process enough to gather the primary research required for a successful redesign.” In addition, always avoid isolating site development into a specific group, such as Marketing or the IT department. “You lose the ability to understand the overall interaction with other digital marketing disciplines such as search, online public relations or analytics,” Greves says.
Always Ask Questions
One way to improve a Web site is to gather input from your internal customers as well as the end users of the site. He says asking questions such as the following helps refine this process:
• Exactly what are the business needs?
• How can they be supported digitally?
• What do your customers need to be successful in assisting you in gaining market share or increased profit margins?
According to Greves, “We always counsel our clients to understand the needs of their most valuable customers so we can focus the site redesign on empowering them throughout the consideration process.”
Think Like a Salesman
Understanding how the Web site can support sales efforts, either through information sharing or qualification of inquiries, is another important component of Web design. Greves says, “Regularly we receive feedback that leads developed through our digital marketing efforts [that] are the most qualified leads provided to the sales organization. Marketers must capitalize on this efficiency and ability to demonstrate return on investment.”