Front End Website Design
If the back end of your website is important, the front end design and layout is equally important. The design of your website impacts everything from conversion rates to search engine rankings. There are unseen details of your site design that, if not done correctly, can actually tank your rankings or burn your domain name altogether.
Some of the more technical aspects of a web page include the proper use of keywords, heading tags, title tags, meta descriptions, menu structure, content placement and image ratio. These are all things that a website development company should implement and be able to explain to you as they lay out your website. While you should not expect to know all of these technicalities you can certainly ask the questions or review the source of your website to take a peak under the hood. If your website has trouble ranking after its completion these are a few of the initial things to take a look at or have a third party review to make sure they are being done correctly.
Home Page Design
Obviously you start your design with your home page. As this page is created you need to look for some recognizable components above the fold. Above the fold means what can be seen on an average screen size with out scrolling down. A clear and direct call to action, your business name and contact information as well as your menu and links to the most important information should always be towards the top of your home page. This is also where you use your logo, slogan and image to enhance your branding. Carrying a consistent, professional brand from your letterhead to your website is essential to a complete marketing effort.
Call To Action
The call to action is often over looked or underestimated on a web page. A call to action is not just posting your phone number. You need to tell the visitor what to do: “Call for a Free Consultation” or “Call Now to See How We Can Help.” You also need to make sure that your phone number is clickable from a mobile device and that all of your address information is formatted correctly for the search engines. This formatting tells the search engines what the content on your page means and helps it relate to local search results. You need to verify this microdata with your website designer because search engines use this correctly formatted information to read your site and render the most relevant information to the searcher. This is part of the minutiae of website design, but if it is done correctly it can have great influence on your success
Call Tracking Numbers
There are many add-on tools and services you can use on the front end of your website to make tracking and converting visitors easier. You can have a call tracking phone number. This is a telephone number that logs a phone call each time it is dialed and this call can be directly linked to your website traffic data. For example, you run a specific holiday ad that lands on a specific page of your site. Your website traffic data can be combined with call traffic data to determine how many visitors your ad drove to the page versus how many of those visitors actually called. Now the caveat here is if you have a very easy to remember vanity or straight number you probably do not want to use a different call tracking number. However, it is something to keep in mind if you are trying to determine ad effectiveness. Call tracking numbers are sometimes an additional expense at your request and sometimes they are included with your site design
The form mailer or contact form is a common part of most small business websites. This is a form where the visitor can fill in their contact information to receive a call back. Some people are not searching for small business owners during your business hours or are not able to make a phone call at that time, so it is very helpful to give them a method for contacting you. Your form mailer cannot be too long or too intrusive. It should only request basic information, i.e. name, phone number, email, best time to contact and a brief description of the issue. Asking for too much information will often times dissuade someone from filling it out. Some business owners use the form mailer as method of culling out prospects, but information in a contact form can be misinterpreted. It is recommended that the form mailer be the secondary call to action behind the phone call
Click-to-Call & Chat Boxes
Another method of contact available is the Click-to-Call. This is a fancy way of making the visitor’s computer initiate the call to your office. This feature sounds advanced and cool, but there are things to consider. It usually comes with a monthly fee paid to a third party service. There are some on screen directions that have to be followed by the user and sometimes there is awkward silence that makes the visitor hang up. This requires training your office staff and answering service on how to handle these incoming calls and depending on how tech-savvy your target market is, this may or may not be the best method of contact to make the conversion. Another growing trend is the chat boxes commonly seen on websites. These are only effective if someone is on the other end to respond. Like the other services, there is usually an additional cost for this service. Large banks of responders answer some of these chats, other services allow your office to respond to them directly, and some are a combination of the two. You need to carefully assess who responds, what they say and how the chats are handled before deciding on this service. As with all add-on tools to a website you need to discuss with your web development company how much they cost, how they will behave on mobile devices and if they will impact your overall site performance.
One of the basic objectives of web page design is to make contact with the visitor. Usually this means getting them to call you or fill out a form mailer. However, there are other means of positive contact. Persuading a visitor to give you their contact information for later use is also considered a success. Getting a visitor’s contact information the right way allows you to advertise directly to them whenever you want. The most effective way to do this is to offer them something. A successful website offering essentially builds a qualified prospect list for you. Some small business owners often times wonder what they can offer if they do not sell a product. The most common offer is a newsletter subscription. This offer requires consistent effort on your part to ensure that your newsletter comes out in a timely matter as specified in the offer. If you can make this commitment this is an excellent offer because it allows you to spread your brand on a regular basis. Newsletters are good for certain types of businesses where the services may not be immediate, but the prospect relationship needs to be nurtured until the need arises. Some business owners offer books or eBooks. Writing and offering a book sets you apart as the authority in your business area. There are other ways to get your message and brand across through an offer. You can offer webinars, an online video library or a subscription to your blog. If you are considering adding an offer to your page you need to determine how much time you have to maintain the type of offer you make. Offers need to be current and fresh in order to be rewarding. Remember, the primary reason for the offer is to create a qualified prospect list, the secondary objective is to make your brand the authority and get your message out there.