Design an Experience

Austin Walker Austin Walker
October 3, 2017   |   4 min read time

There was a time once when if you just had a website you were miles ahead of your competition, but that time has passed, a long, long, long time ago. It's no longer enough to have a just a website, you need to immerse your visitor in an experience, you need to leave an impression on your visitor, create an emotion and leave a memory. If you don't, you're just another website amongst millions of others.

The thing is, creating emotional experiences online isn't exactly easy. Small details count and everything on your page needs to work in perfect harmony. Stock photos have to communicate an idea, typography needs to match your industry, copy needs to be concise and compelling and navigation needs to be simple and intuitive.

Here is a short list of the common design failures that are keeping you from having the online experience that your visitors expect:

1. Terrible Stock Photos

Are there suits shaking hands anywhere on your website? If you answered yes or even maybe, hunt those stock photos down and destroy them. Stock photos are one of the most difficult elements of a successful design to get right. The wrong imagery and your website design is now communicating ideas and concepts that you never intended.

When you're looking for stock photos, keep your customer in mind. What mental state are they in right now? Are they enthusiastic? Stressed? Relaxed? What does your company or product help them with? How should they feel when they interact with your service or product? These emotions are what your images should communicate. Your visitor will be able to instantly relate to your imagery and that relation at an emotional level is what leaves a lasting memory of your website. Buzzfeed has a great list of website design that should have never made it past the drawing board.

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2. Poor Typography

With advancements in web technology we are able to use just about any typeface you want on your website. Don't get too excited just yet, the wrong typography can ruin your user experience.

At their core there are two types of typefaces, serif and sans-serif. I won't go into the details of the two since there are plenty of articles written about both, but instead will tell you what you need to know. Each creates a different emotion right away, a serif typeface for instance is a more stoic emotion whereas a sans-serif font is more futuristic. A brief real-world example; large financial institutions often favor serif faces for their firm and time-tested emotion and tech companies prefer sans-serif for their smooth and innovative emotion.

Don't overlook legibility. Legibility is important! I cannot tell you enough how important that is. You could have the greatest type combination the design world has ever seen, but if the visitor can't read it, it's worthless. What environment is your visitor typically in? Are they on their tablets, smart phones or on their desktop/laptop computers when viewing your site. Each medium has it's own caveats for legibility. Make sure you optimize your typeface for the average environment your users are in while visiting your site.

3. Too Much Content

I get it, you're passionate about your business, you could spend days talking about it, maybe even write a book about it. Your visitor is every bit as passionate as you are, but about themselves and not your business. Web users are inherently selfish and are only interested in how your product or service benefits them.

It's this selfish attitude that requires you to write short, concise, and benefit-focused copy. Your visitor is simply not interested in everything your business can do and why you started it, they are only interested in where your product or service fits in their life and what is the benefit to them.

Here's a simple trick to copywriting, write everything you can think of and sit on it for 24 hours. Come back and remove half of what you wrote and sit another 24 hours, after that remove another half and what you're left with is all you need. Keep the focus on the benefits you provide to your customers and match the tone of your business.

Content has been generated for the purpose of marketing automation. However, this nifty type of marketing does not succeed without first helping the potential client first. It's a fun game of learning what you can give away for free without giving it all away. 

4. Overly Complicated Navigation

Remember what I said above about inherently selfish visitors? Yep, they still are selfish and if your navigation is too complicated they will leave your site in droves. Your navigation needs to get your visitor from point a to point b quickly and effectively. If they get lost in a sea of nested drop-downs, frilly titles or tiny lettering they are gone.

Keep your primary navigation strong, concise and direct visitors to where they need to go to make a purchase decision. Make your nav options simple and intuitive. If you get lost in your own navigation, it's time to freshen it up a bit.

5. Remember Your Branding

Your website is an extension of your brand. Your website, business cards, letterheads and all forms of communication with your customer should follow your branding and style guide. This simple concept keeps the experience uniform across all means of visual communication. Your visitor should not have to wonder if they found the right website because the branding is the opposite of everything else you're doing.

These are just 5 basic tips to keep in mind for a better experience for your website visitors. For more ideas or if your website is ready for a refresh, reach out!

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