Website design and development is a huge industry. But even though it offers a wealth of potential, it is still young and growing.
As such it lacks the standards and expectations that more mature industries have. Buyers don’t know how to buy or what to expect, and sellers are often making it up as they go along.
Over the past 8 years, we've picked up some tips on how to best serve your clients’ needs, as well as your own business needs, by selling awesome websites, better. And we want to share it with you.
If you are new to selling websites, or if websites is not your core service, this article is for you.
The focus of our business is helping agencies and consultants who might specialize in marketing services such as copywriting, design, strategy, pay per click ads, SEO, social media marketing etc. You need your client to have a great website in order for them to make the most out of the services you are offering them.
But it is better if you don’t spend all your time building the website yourself. You should focus on your core service and outsource the website work to website experts.
This article gives you an overview to help you understand what you are selling and how best to sell websites to your client and advise them on the right strategy.
TL;DR—This is a huge article— 17,000+ words. Use the navigation on the side to find the topic you need.
Yes, there are many other similar platforms out there. There’s Joomla, Wix, Drupal, Weebly, Shopify, CMS Made Simple, Blogger, Squarespace, etc. that we could use to build a website.
Each has its own benefits. So, why WordPress?
WordPress is the best option for most serious business websites. Let me explain why:
WordPress is flexible.
There is a plugin or integration for cart processing, ordering and shipping, video gallery, event calendar, social buttons and just about anything you might possibly need. It’s scalable and can grow with you as your business needs grow.
Creating a completely customized website purpose-built for your business needs is a lot harder on some of the other platforms, if it is possible at all.
WordPress has a large community.
This means looking for developers who can help you with it isn’t going to be a problem. It is an open source software so anyone can work on it. This way, your client is not stuck to a proprietary CMS.
You can host it wherever you like, change hosting or find a new developer whenever it suits you.
There are a lot more reasons to choose WordPress, but the biggest advantage of using it is asset control.
You can move it to a new domain or a new server if you like. Other platforms can pull out the rug from under you anytime—you are completely at their mercy. With WordPress, you have complete ownership and control of your website.
1. Create An Amazing Buying Experience
We have heard a lot of really shocking customer service stories in this industry.
There’s that one developer who took two months past the deadline to finish his work. And there’s that other one who always take several days, sometimes weeks, to reply to client emails, leaving them hanging and wondering what’s going on.
A lot of website sellers forget that getting a new website is a big deal for their clients. It’s often the most important and expensive marketing investment they will make.
With so many mediocre developers saturating the industry, they might be afraid they’re going to be given a substandard product. Or be completely ripped off. There are plenty of reasons for them to be concerned.
Don’t forget that providing good customer service has long term benefits so consider how you can provide an amazing buying experience for them.
Carefully think about the whole process from start to finish—even after the site is live—so you can plan how to work out each problem that might arise.
Communicate this with them. Guide them through the process so there won’t be any dark areas. This is how you build solid testimonials and a raving fan base.
For more tips on how to create an awesome customer experience, watch this episode.
2. Write A Killer Proposal
The first step to a winning proposal is asking the right questions. First, you need to really understand exactly what result the client actually wants.
Keep digging as deep as you can into what result they really want and why. Often what business owners think they need the website to be is related more to what they see in other websites, and not directly related to what result they want. Get clear on the goal and make that the focus.
Then once you find out what they want and need from their website, you can put together a proposal which outlines how you are going to build a solution that matches their needs and delivers the result they want.
It is good to put together a proposal template to cover a lot of the details such as terms and conditions, FAQs, timeline structure, how the process works, standard inclusions, etc. That way you can just make a project overview and customise the rest to match each particular project.
For more details on how you can create a killer proposal, check out this video.
3. Set Rules. Refuse Design By Committee.
So many well-intentioned websites turn into a complete train wreck because of this.
Unless the head of the organization delegates all the decision-making to another person, it is vital you deal only with him. Why?
A panel of people involved in the decision-making will be difficult because it would be much harder to get everyone on the same page for the vision of the website.
Everyone will feel the need to contribute to the discussion until they argue, compromising the design and deadline of the final output.
It is vital your client trusts you as the expert when it comes to design. Oatmeal has the best explanation on why this is important. Depending on the politics of the panel, it may be difficult to talk them out of this decision.
Have some ground rules for how you do business, outline these in the initial proposal so that the client is aware from the start, and stick to them.
Learn more how to set rules and refuse design by committee, check out this video.
4. Create A Quality Support Desk Experience
Communication issues in web development can be disastrous. It can lead to unnecessary discussions, long and taxing working hours and a final product that’s far from what’s expected.
To avoid communication gaps, a support desk software can keep everything in one place. This is ideal when you have several people working on the same project.
Support desk can merge email threads, add notes and keep all communication for a project in one place. No email gets lost. This way, collaboration is easier because everyone can see the same thread.
Most support desks like Zendesk use a ticket system, assigning a number to each thread. But the email looks funny to most clients outside the IT world.
Besides, assigning a number to a customer won’t make them feel special. Plus, not all requests will be about one website project.
We prefer to use Helpscout.
It appears like a normal email from the client’s perspective. But it has all the features you could ever want in a support desk. Aside from using tickets, it can also merge them into a single thread.
A support desk allows someone else to reply to clients on your behalf. This way, client requests are properly acknowledged and promptly responded to all the time.
For more tips on how to create a quality support desk experience, watch this episode.
5. Position Yourself As The Expert
We don’t know what we don’t know until someone, an expert in the field, tell us the facts.
The same goes with clients.
Clients don’t know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to websites because it’s us who know the facts. Provide a bit of guidance to them. If you don’t, you will have trouble getting them to agree to a website that would benefit them.
The best way to do this is to provide some educational material that will help them make informed decisions. This will save you time answering trivial questions, like explaining why they shouldn’t use Comic Sans.
6. Offer WordPress Training
In most cases, the client should not be making changes to the website. Or even logging into the dashboard of the website. What they should do is focus on running their business, not maintaining their site.
But still, clients should have the capacity to make changes to the website in case of emergencies, so provide some training on the basics of WordPress use.
Video User Manuals is a useful tool for this. The plugin can be custom-branded and comes in a range of accents. Once basic training has been provided, you only have to explain a few custom sections if you create them.
Don’t withhold what they should know because you want them to be completely dependent on you—that’s not how you should retain clients.
Give them the option to leave. But provide a service so awesome they wouldn’t want to.
Packaging And Pricing
7. Don’t Sell Cheap Websites
It is tempting, especially when starting out, to compete on price.
We have all been there.
But you will learn quickly that this is the wrong way to go. There is always someone who can do it cheaper. But if you don’t charge enough for your service, you can’t deliver a good quality website and still make a profit.
Either you end up working for less than a McDonalds employee, or you deliver a website you are not proud of and your client doesn’t really like. Either way your business cannot last long.
Repeat business and referrals are the best sources of business growth. You get these by delivering awesome websites that get results, not by being the cheaper option.
Websites are a very important and valuable asset for any business. A well-made website can build additional revenue and profit to a business for several years. Only work with clients who recognise this value, and charge appropriately for your service.
8. Selling Templates Can Get Messy
Following on from competing on price, this is a short cut or lower value service aimed at providing a ‘lower cost’ option than a fully custom designed and built website.
The issues with doing it this way usually arise from the clients expectations not matching the outcome. When selling from a template, you need to use their imagination to picture how that template will look with their logo and content. There is a very good chance that what they imagine, is going to be different from what you imagine... and the final result.
This is why we prefer to follow a custom design process, so that the client can be clear from the start, exactly how it will look.
Another issue we have encountered when using templates built by other people is that working out the structure of the code and adjusting a new template to suit what the customer wants. This often turns out to be as much work as it would have taken to start from scratch.
I am not saying you can't be successful doing things this way, I know people who are, but just be aware of the potential for this approach to get tricky.
9. Offer Ongoing Website Support Retainers
Your clients are likely not website developers, so they should not be spending their time learning how to make changes on their website. They should be focusing on doing what they do best.
Most websites will need regular updates and changes (blog posts, new products etc). Offer them a service where they can either pre-purchase development time, or pay for a monthly retainer to have a developer at their fingertips.
This gives your client peace of mind knowing that when they need things changed on their website, they simply have to get in touch with you.
For this to work, you need to make sure you will be able to serve them quickly. If they have to wait too long, then perhaps it would be easier for them to learn how to do it themselves.
But don’t try to lock them into this service. They should want to stay with you because you provide great value to them and make their life easier. Offering annual or monthly payment options is a good idea. We find some businesses prefer one or the other.
10. Include A Monthly Maintenance Check And Report
You are doing your client a disservice if you don’t. All websites, including WordPress, need to be updated to stay ahead of hackers and viruses.
Take a look at the series of defacements that happened to thousands of WordPress users that did not upgrade to WordPress 3.7.2. This is an example of just how crucial it is to keep your site updated all the time if you don’t want to fall victim like those un-updated sites have.
Websites must also be checked for errors at least every month and its content kept fresh on a regular basis.
Unless your clients have an in-house marketing team, they should not do this themselves. They must concentrate and put their efforts in building their business, not maintaining their website.
Offering ongoing web support will:
- Help your client’s website stay secure. Malware issues will be far less likely to occur (but a website is never 100% safe, so make sure you don’t promise this).
- Give your client peace of mind knowing the site is being looked after.
- Give you a recurring income source.
Have someone check these things every month:
- Scanning for viruses/malware
- Checking Analytics for abnormalities
- Scanning for broken links
- Running a manual backup
- Checking the load speed
- Updating WordPress
- Updating the Theme
- Updating Plugins
Then, make sure you send a report outlining the work you have done so the client is kept up-to-date.
11. Website Package Levels Don’t Really Work
We tried for many years, banging our heads against this wall. But the truth is, website package levels suck.
You can’t force clients to choose between two packages because every business is different. Even similar businesses have different needs.
They all have one thing in common though: the need to stand out from the competition.
Offering them a ‘Customized Template’ package setup will not help them get that edge, that uniqueness over their competitors if their website ends up looking like other websites.
With this kind of package, customization is also very limited. Even the size of the copy and images you put into the site are pre-determined.
For a while, we have had success with a base level custom design package that only includes minimum requirements. But very rarely do clients need only that base package. So what we do is to build on top of the base package to meet what they need.
12. Number Of Pages Is Not Significant
Over the years, we have noticed a lot of clients thinking in terms of number of pages when discussing the pricing of a website, as if it were a major factor.
We do still see people selling website packages based on number of pages.
This might be a hangover from the days of Dreamweaver when each page had to be manually created.
But since the birth of CMS website platforms, most pages are built with a page template and all you need to do is to paste in the content. Thus, the number of pages bears little significance.
What matters now are the number of page templates you are creating, how many unique pages need to be designed and how much content are formatted or laid out.
Some websites may only have around six pages, but if each one is unique, it still requires a lot of work.
Another website might have 60 pages, but if there are only three page templates that need to be designed, this seemingly larger website may take less time than the six page site above.
Detailed landing pages or single page websites can be more work than a 10-page website.
Complexity of the design, content layout and functionality of the website are more important considerations than just the number of pages.
13. Offer Regular Design Refreshes
The online world is a rapidly changing landscape.
Within a year or two, there could be large shifts in the way people use the internet. Users’ expectations on design and functionality of websites will change with it. It doesn’t take long before a website starts looking a bit old.
A great example of this is how mobile usage has changed the way websites are designed. Five years ago, it was common to find websites which had two sidebars—one on the left and one on the right of the main content in the center (this was never a good idea, but it was common).
Now, it is far more common for a website to have no sidebar at all and have a single column of content.
To keep up with changes like these, you have to be proactive with your service. Help your clients stay on the cutting edge by offering regular website refreshes.
14. Budget In Time For Meetings And Project Communication into Quote
Make sure you are expecting and getting paid for these things, otherwise, you will come to hate and regret doing the project when you realize you have been working for $5/hr.
There’s always a few hours work spent in meetings and proposals before a project can get started, so don’t forget to factor that time into the quote.
Next, you should allow at least a good 2-3 hours for an average-sized project just for creating a detailed brief after the project has been given the go ahead. This brief is important as it will prevent your project from suffering the nightmare of scope creep and generally becoming a mess.
Alternatively, it might be better to charge upfront for a scoping document before even quoting on the rest of the project. But this depends on the size of the projects you are working on.
Finally, you need to consider that you will have to do a bit of communication between the suppliers and the client throughout the project, often having to read and think through emails for 15mins at a time.
This usually doesn’t seem like much, even while you do it. But it quickly adds up to a few hours, especially if things don’t go smoothly.
Process and Documents
15. Start With A Solid Design Process
A solid design right from the start is important because it dictates how the rest of the development will go. If you can get this right from the get-go, you’d be able to save time because then, revisions would not be needed.
We will go into more details on tactics like the brief later, but the main process you should go through with your client is to:
- Identify the primary and secondary goals of the website.
- Identify the target market and sources of traffic. Determine what stage in the buying cycle visitors will be arriving at the website.
- Identify the main message you should be delivering to these visitors with the aim to easily and logically progress them towards the goal.
- Identify the desired first impression. Get clear on the look, feel, branding and style of the business. (Examples of other websites can help this stage).
- Identify which proof and trust elements are the best to use. You need to build trust with the visitors quickly to help them progress towards the goal.
Finally, find what you can cut from the list of features the client wants. The aim is to have only what is necessary to deliver the message. Remove all the distractions and clutter. Move anything related to secondary goals to a less prominent part of the design and layout.
16. Put Effort On A Great Website Brief
A house depends on its blueprint just as much as a website depends on the website brief.
A brief outlines the direction of the design and key elements of the website. It will sum up exactly what your client will be getting and assures them no changes in direction will be made halfway through the project.
But more than that, the website brief will make work easier for the design and development team. Since they know what the client is expecting, they can confidently build the site to the correct specifications.
It could really make a huge difference to the outcome of the project so make the brief as great as you can right from the start.
Take note of these things when creating it:
- Sitemap and wireframes
Supporting the brief with sitemaps and wireframes is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page. Also make sure the correct structure is approved before time is spent on the design and coding.
- Photos, content and other assets
Gather all the assets required for the website. Things like photos, text content, logos and other media must be put in one place. Dropbox is a great tool for this.
- Use templates
It’s best to use a template for your briefs. You will get consistent results and won’t have to reinvent it for each client.If you are doing a lot of similar projects, Quoteroller is a great tool to use. It makes creating templates for quotes, proposals and briefs easier. You can have sections pre-made and all you have to do is simply add relevant quotes.
17. Create Killer Website Wireframes, Sitemaps and Mockups
Wireframes explain the basic layout of the design. It gives the client, developer and designer the chance to look at it critically and make revisions when needed.
Wireframe.cc is a great online tool for creating wireframes. The premium version allows you to create a virtual experience of the whole site, including mobile.
However, it’s important to have the wireframe approved first before starting on the design. This will reduce the number of mockups required.
Design mockups are flat images that show the look and overall style of a website.
For creating mockups, Mockupr is a simple, free tool. It ensures that a .jpeg mockup you send to the client will be viewed at the right size in their browser.
But Invision App takes this a step further. Apart from a few other cool features, it allows your client to post feedback directly onto the mockup.
Sitemap spreadsheets allow you to be clear on what pages are required in the website. It also makes adding notes about the content or the SEO meta data easier. You can also map out page redirections if required for a website rebuild.
Creating a simple sitemap spreadsheet in Google Docs or Excel is often the easiest way to go about it. Visual sitemap or mind map tools can be appealing, but they don't allow you to manage the data associated with each page.
18. Have An Effective Project Management Process
The main goal of project management is to make sure the website is delivered on time and according to specifications.
To deliver websites according to spec, use good briefs and ensure the requirements are communicated to all parties. You should also have a few checks in place to make sure things are staying on track.
To deliver websites on time, make sure the deadline is set first at the beginning of the project.
The deadline needs to take into account the following things:
- When the client wants it finished.
- How long it will realistically take to build.
- Some padding time for delays in communication, errors, changes and unexpected delays.
Building padding into your timeline is crucial in keeping clients happy. Either you will deliver early and they will be impressed with your speed, or when delays happen you can still deliver on time.
You should always communicate with the client if any delays or changes to the deadline are expected. It is common to be drawn out by indecision or direction changes during the design stage, so it’s best to realign the timeline after the design process.
19. Get File Types And Image Sizes Right
Why is this important when building an awesome website?
Images that are not the right size will drag down the page load speed of the site. Now that the attention span of users has decreased even more, you only have to make your users wait for a second or two before they abandon your site.
Make sure you find out from your developer the appropriate images sizes for various parts of the website. Communicate this to the client so that where possible, they can supply the right images.
Also make sure other required files are in the right format, or in a format the developer can use.
- For text content, the appropriate format is a simple .doc or .txt file.
- For images, the format must be as .jpg.
- For logos and things with transparent background, it should be .png.
- Documents for downloading should be in pdf.
When in doubt, supplied images must be a bit larger because they can be shrunk. If the images are too small, they cannot be enlarged without losing quality.
A good rule of thumb is 2,000px (or 1920px) wide for a full screen image. The file size for an image of that size should be 80-100Kb.
Using small images for blog posts, around 300-500px, is fine. But that also depends on the layout of the blog. These images should be around the 20-30Kb mark.
20. Cross Browser & Mobile Check Thoroughly
Different browsers display websites in slightly different ways, so make sure your website looks consistent across all browsers.
Today, people are also using a wide range of screen sizes. Make sure the website design looks good on both a small and a large phone screen.
Provide a good user experience by doing a ‘responsiveness’ check, making sure the site is easy to use on both phones and computers. Google has emphasized the importance of this by penalizing non-responsive websites.
21. Complete Two Quality Checks (Alpha And Beta)
Once completed, do not immediately show the website to the client. Do at least two thorough checks over the site first. These checks must be completed by different people because fresh eyes will always be able to pick up slightly different issues.
The initial Alpha check must be run by the developer who built the site. He makes sure everything has been built to spec. He also picks up any bugs or mistakes.
But since the developer is often too close to the project, he is likely to miss something.
So we get a senior developer run through the Beta checklist to try to find anything the developer may have missed. It’s only after these checks has been made can the site be sent to the client for approval.
22. Use A Checklist To Ensure A Smooth Launch
One small mistake can ruin the launch of a website. That’s why a lot of marketers, developers and project managers hesitate in clicking that big, red “launch” button.
Moments before a launch can get pretty intense. To remove the apprehension and doubt if you haven’t overlooked any details, it’s best to follow a checklist. The checklist should cover these things:
- The final website has been checked for errors and is approved to go live.
- You should have all the required access and logins the developer will need to go live and that the login information actually work.
- Set an appropriate 'go live' date. Don’t just rush live once the site is done. Make sure the time is right. It’s good if the developer is available to work on the site the next day in case something goes wrong.
- Check over the site once it is live. Some things are very hard to detect on the staging server, but become obvious on the live site. This is also the time when extra changes can be made to the website.
- Once the site is live, wait for a week or two before promoting it. Show the site to a small group before a bigger launch. Occasionally, small typos or usability issues are only noticed by customers.
- Make sure propagation has already been completed if you are moving servers. The old server and the staging environment should be turned off. This ensures nothing on the live site is linking to or grabbing resources from the old server, as this is an easy thing to overlook.Also make sure the live server is not preventing any plugins or integrations from working properly.
Complete these checks once you have the new live site. Only in creating a comprehensive checklist can you make sure no detail has been overlooked and all the bases have been covered.
23. Keep WordPress Up-To-Date (Without Breaking Everything)
Because WordPress is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) website platform on the planet, it’s a very tasty target for malware and hacking software.
If someone exploits a vulnerability on WordPress, the repercussions are enormous.
WordPress vulnerabilities are often found and patched very quickly by the awesome team at automattic. However, theme or plugin vulnerabilities need to be patched by its developers. This is the exact reason why it’s really important to use only well-supported themes and plugins.
Often, you will need to login and manually install these updates. The danger is, if you update WordPress but have an outdated plugin or theme, it can potentially break your website.
Make sure you:
- Wait until all the theme and plugins are ready for the update.
- Run a backup before updating.
- Check the site after the update to make sure it didn’t break anything.
It is often best to leave this to a developer—they know when it’s best to update. They can also deal with issues immediately should any arise.
24. Use Staging Environments When Redesigning Websites
Using a staging site in web development will test if your design will work not just on your local host but also on the live server.
There are a few different ways to do this. Your situation will determine which is best for you. It might not be necessary on a new website for a new business. But in most cases, it is the best practice.
The most important thing is to make sure robots are blocked from the staging site while you build. But don’t forget to turn robots back on when you go live!
To save confusion, build on an address your client doesn’t know or can’t see. Reveal the address only when the new site has been completed, bug-tested and ready to go live.
25. Use Child Themes To Protect Against Future Updates
One should never edit the code of a theme directly. Why?
The WordPress framework is updated to improve the functionality and security of the platform. And themes need to be updated to stay secure and compatible with WordPress.
However, when you update a theme, new theme files are installed and the old ones are deleted. So if you have edited the code of the theme directly, all the changes you’ve made will be lost.
To get around this, WordPress created ‘Child Themes’. It’s where you can apply customizations to the theme. The code is separate so the original theme is not actually changed.
Child Themes allow you to update the Parent Theme without writing over your customizations. Any customizations you made on the Child Theme still apply to the updated Parent theme.
You can find a good explanation here.
26. The Less Code There Is, The Better
Keep only as many plugins as you need, delete the rest. Keep your site as light on code as possible.
The WordPress framework, the theme and the plugins on your site will need regular updating. The more different bits of code and plugins you have, the more likely a conflict or bug will occur when these updates take place.
By keeping your code clean, your website will load quicker and reduce bounce rates which in turn makes it look like a better site to Google.
Use a custom theme purpose-built to be just what you need. Avoid ‘Swiss-Army-Knife’ themes which are designed to do all these amazing things you will never need.
27. Don’t Use Swiss-Army Themes
These themes...they look sleek.
They seem perfect for every industry and every type of website build, including yours.
They even have a simple customization system with such a myriad of options you don’t even need to know how to code!
The problem comes when you discover it doesn’t quite allow you to do what you want it to do. If you want to add something extra and couldn’t, you’ll have to hire a coder to do it. Sometimes, the code is such a bloated mess they don’t want to touch it.
Don’t do it yourself if you don’t know how to code. Get an expert to build exactly what is required.
28. Avoid Cheap Theme Marketplaces
Or if you really must, be very careful about who you buy it from.
The themes always look fantastic in the demo, without fail. But once you actually look under the hood and start to bend the theme to your needs, quite often, you will find them structured in strange ways. It’s usually a nightmare to customize.
The single most important factor to consider is the ongoing support for these themes. You should see if the theme is up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress. When was it last updated? Are they updating weekly or every few months? How are they rated for support? Do they answer questions quickly?
You are far better off buying your website’s theme from an established company that has a good reputation and a proper support team. A cheap, one-man operation is likely to stop supporting you after a few months.
29. Use Pop-Ups Sparingly—Or Not At All
Most people hate pop-ups.
However, most people who test pop-ups would agree they increase conversions.
Not a lot of people feel the same way about ‘Exit Intent’ messages though. Unlike pop-ups, Exit Intent doesn’t prevent the user from viewing the page they came for. It only appears when the script detects the visitor is about to leave the site.
With the right message, Exit Intent can help increase conversion rates by as much as 15%.
Whatever you decide to use, be aware of its effects on customer experience and your brand. Don’t overdo it. Increasing conversions is great, but chasing it blindly will most likely backfire.
30. Design The Site To Suit Traffic
When you are about to redesign a website, the next question you should ask after ‘Who is the target audience?’ is this:
How did they get to the site?
Knowing if the visitors are cold traffic from an ad, followers from your social media, searchers on Google, etc. will help determine what your next step will be in planning the flow of the website’s design.
To do this, take a look at Google analytics and review the current customer behavior. Then, think about what they need to see when they get to your site.
Ask yourself these questions:
Should they go to helpful content first or should they be led directly to the shop to buy? Do you need to warm them up by explaining what you have to offer? Do you need to educate them about your services or products? Can you get straight to the pitch?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you might need specific landing pages for paid traffic.
31. Different Landing Pages For Different Traffic
We often get asked how much it costs to make a landing page. But it’s a tricky question to answer.
Not all landing pages are the same. They come in all shapes and sizes—from long form sales copy landing pages, to short video squeeze pages, to graphics heavy, software sales pages and everything in between.
But the most appropriate format for the landing page will depend on your business, your offer and your market.
To make a good landing page, the defining factor should be this: the page should have just one core purpose or conversion type and that they have a clearly defined source of traffic.
Track the behavior, conversions and clicks to get insight on how visitors use the page. Invest in great copywriting and solid design. Then, improve from there. Make sure to provide a different experience to people who go directly to the homepage.
32. Find Out What Is Currently Harming Your Conversions
In web design, presentation is everything. After all, its purpose is to persuade casual visitors to take action, whatever your CTA may be.
But without taking into account certain things, not even the most pleasant-looking design can increase your conversion rate. Take a look at how you can improve in each of these areas:
- Wrong Message To Target Match
Are the right types of people arriving at your website for the right reasons? Are they ready for your message? Does your message clearly spell out you have the right solution for them?
- Slow Load Speed
Slow speed is bad for business. Studies show the attention span of users has gone down so low (six seconds) they have unseated the goldfish from first place (nine seconds).Amazon and other large online retailers have proven that they actually lose precious percentage in conversion rates for every second of delay in their page load speed. So if you don’t want to lose your visitors to the next faster-loading website, make sure to check if you have a competitive page load speed.
- Lack Of Strong Call-To-Action
CTAs are the final “force” used to push leads off the fence. But for it to work, they need to be relevant and compelling.Identify what problem users have and what solutions you can provide for that problem. Make sure the steps they need to take to get to that solution are clear. Design the CTA to stand out on the page and position it in logical places throughout the website.
- Too Many Distractions
If you have too many things on the page—sliders, ads, live chat, sidebar widgets, large navigation menus, social feeds or other features on your page—it’s likely your visitors will get distracted from the main purpose of that page.
- No trust
There’s no denying that there are many people out there who purchased something online and were ripped off in the process. It’s the reason why users are now cautious in revealing their information to sites that seem shady.If we are going to get right at the bottom of it, TRUST is the most important factor when it comes to online buying. You can establish trust by:
- Building a modern, well-designed website.
- Consistent branding across all platforms.
- Showing a sample or proof of your product or service.
- Displaying social proof, client or partner logos, testimonials, case studies, media appearances, awards, qualifications or association membership and security logos should also help ease their doubt and apprehension.
33. Use Tracking, Analytics And Heatmaps
Information is power. Once you:
- Know how many visitors your site is getting
- Where these visitors are coming from
- What they do once they get into your site
- Know your site’s traffic patterns and trends
Only then, would you be able to figure out how to develop high quality leads better, write effective CTAs and make a more educated and strategic marketing decision.
Generally, knowing all these will help you build a better website because your moves will be backed by hard data.
Google Analytics can give you access to this valuable insight. That’s why as a bare minimum, every website should have it installed. It’s helpful not just for marketing people but also for web developers, content writers and executives.
Heat maps on the other hand drill into the behavior of visitors by revealing what they look at and click on, especially on key pages.
Reviewing a website’s performance and suggesting improvements are highly valuable information for your clients. It can uncover areas for improvement, save or generate thousands of dollars for them. The service can also be a great recurring revenue for your business.
34. Good Navigation And Site Structure
When deciding a website’s navigation and content structure, it’s the users we have to consider first.
Think about what they want and what they need. What do users have to see to make them buy from you? Use that as basis.
Strip it back to the minimum viable. Keep things as clean and simple as possible. Think about the flow. The rest of the content can be positioned in logical places after that.
Make sure users can quickly get to the content they want. Minimize the number of decisions and clicks they need to make. It will reduce the paralysis of making a choice and generate sales more swiftly.
If you have a large site where people might want to go back to a specific page, use the footer instead to flesh out a full sitemap.
Remember: the user is the center of every website. You need to speak their language, solve their problems and make it easy for them. Otherwise, they will go elsewhere.
35. Use Only One Primary Purpose Per Page
It’s one of the most common mistakes around: too many purposes crammed up on a single page.
Each page should have one single Primary Purpose. Having a few secondary purposes is fine. However, it must never cloud the Primary Purpose. The design and content of the page should also help emphasize this.
Tempting as it might be, adding too many things on the page and have them compete for attention only distracts users from your CTA.
Reduce the attention given to these secondary purposes by neutralizing their color and moving them down the page. Better yet, they can be in the spotlight if you put them on their own page.
36. Create A Strong CTA
Once you have isolated the main goal of the page, make a clear and compelling Call-To-Action.
You can repeat the same CTA in several places and in different ways. This will guide users towards the primary purpose of the page.
Determine if it’s appropriate to have the CTA singled out as the main feature ‘above the fold’ on the homepage or landing pages. Depending on how warm or cold traffic is, the CTA can be moved further down the page once you have established value and trust.
If you have the same CTA for the whole website, place it in the header and footer so it’s on every page. Use contrasting colors and design to make it stand out. It must be visually striking accompanied with a copy that is clear and compelling.
37. Stop Being So Social
There’s no question about the power of social media in marketing.
For many marketers, integrating social media in their campaigns is a great way in leveraging its power to promote their brand. And that would be true, too.
Studies on the benefits of social media marketing show it drives traffic to your site, improves brand loyalty and provides more opportunities for conversion resulting in higher conversion rates.
This is precisely the reason why social media integration can easily be overdone.
You’d see an array of so many social sharing buttons lined up on website pages or a link of the site’s Facebook page right in the header.
Although it is an effective marketing tool, using too many social sharing buttons do more harm than good. They distract users from the purpose of the page, cheapen the overall look of your website and drag down your page load speed.
Besides, social networks should be used as a way for people to find out about you and then visit your website, not the other way around.
Not that you should stop using social media on your website altogether. Go ahead and use those buttons by all means. But be strategic about it.
38. Use Phone Numbers Effectively
Either you want people to call you or not.
If not, hide your phone number. If you feel you need to display it somewhere, put it in small text on your contact page.
But if you want people to actually call you to begin the sales process, make sure your phone number stands out big and bold in the header of your website. Users should not be made to hunt for your number.
If you are targeting an international audience, include a local phone number for each target country. Use a VOIP call tracking service to achieve this easily. It will measure the effectiveness of your website’s phone number.
If you are running Google Adwords at a decent volume, take advantage of the free tracking phone number they provide.
39. Avoid Using Sliders
If you think sliders make websites look cool, fancy and professional...you’d be right. They can look cool. Kinda.
But aside from looks, ask yourself: what other compelling reasons do you have for wanting to use it? Because you see, the truth is, sliders often do more harm than good. Let me list the reasons:
- Sliders slow down site speed.Because sliders are so big (and some sliders still use flash, too), it takes longer for the page to load. You know what happens to sites that load for over four seconds? Yep, they get abandoned by users.That means aside from affecting SEO, sliders also have a negative impact on user experience…which translates to loss of conversions.
- Most users ignore sliders anyway.And that’s not something we plucked out of thin air. There’s actually a statistics for that.Studies show only 1% of users actually click on sliders. What’s more distressing is, 84% of those who clicked it only clicked the first slide! The rest of the users (99%) didn’t bother with it at all.
- Sliders weaken your key message.Because of their size and positioning, sliders push your content down, making it harder for users to find. It creates confusion because users are being bombarded with multiple messages (also called banner blindness) all fighting for the user’s attention.If your clients insist on using an image slider, consider having several images with the same message and CTA. Or if they want a bit of movement, a subtle video background should work.
40. Blog Strategically
Blogs shouldn’t be just chucked into your website. There are certain things you should consider before you can make it work.
Ask yourself: what is the mission of the blog? Without properly identifying what the blog has to accomplish, it is bound to fail.
Also ask yourself these questions:
- How regularly will you be posting?
- Who is the audience for it? What is your message?
- Should you have a CTA at the bottom of each post? What is the goal?
- Should you be archiving your posts by category so people can find all the ones related to a particular topic? Or are you just going to serialize it?
- Will you use dates or make it evergreen content?
- Will you show authors or keep it anonymous?
- Do you want to encourage subscription to your blog?
- Are you using it as Google fodder?
- Or are you aiming for social media traffic? Do you want to encourage others to share it as well?
- Will you actively encourage readers to comment on it? Do you want to engage with them there?
The answers to all these will help shape the way you should design and setup your blog.
However, if the business is not going to actively use the blog, it might be better not to have it at all.
41. Prepare Your Website Design For Mobile Responsiveness
Unless you have been living under a rock, you should know mobile internet usage has skyrocketed the last few years.
There are currently 3.4 billion active mobile internet users worldwide as of April of 2017. And websites get 49.74% of their traffic from mobile phones. This number is expected to increase in the next coming years.
Google said more than 75% of all smartphone owners use their device for shopping-related purposes.
Imagine what you will lose if your website isn’t designed to be mobile responsive.
So when designing your website, consider how it will look not just on desktop, but on mobile, too. Make sure the site looks great and functions well on both. A lot of designers now start with the mobile design and adapt it for desktop later.
42. Be Smart With Your Opt-ins And Mailing Lists
Having your own email list is a valuable asset. Agreed. But how do you acquire it?
A lot of small business websites make the mistake of asking customers to subscribe to their mailing list—without offering anything in return. Think about it for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of your customers: with no perks and nothing in it for you at all, would you really bother subscribing?
Think of something they need or want which you can give. Give them a taste of your great product or service and you will most likely convince them.
Once they sign up to receive regular email, make sure it’s worth it for them. Don’t just send them self-centered newsletters; send them something they can use, something that would give valuable insights or lessons. The main point is, they should feel lucky to have subscribed to your mailing list.
43. Simple Layouts Win
Some websites are obviously designed to impress. That’s fine to a certain degree.
But don’t get carried away in trying to look original. Visually complex websites are often NOT considered beautiful by users. (Take a look at the study about it here.)
Complicated sites require the brain and eyes to work harder in decoding, processing and storing what they see. What visitors consider attractive is a website where they don’t have to scrutinize everything and expend mental effort in navigating it.
They should instead be able to focus on what they came to your site for. Don’t make them go through the hoops if all they want to do is buy a shirt from you.
Websites should have features they are already familiar with. Whether you are aware of it or not, our brains have already categorized everything we have ever encountered.
Subconsciously, we have already formed a “template” of how a website should look like. Going against this proto-typicality and conditioned flow will leave users feeling vexed.
Observe popular ecommerce sites and you will notice similar features in each: logo sitting on the top left of the page, CTA on the right.
So if you want to make the buying experience easy and pleasurable for your customers, keep your layout simple, uncluttered and easy to follow.
There is a cool website that has been really successful with a simple layout. It’s called google.com.
44. Use Parallax And Scrolling Animations Carefully
Parallax effects and scrolling animations can be the perfect accompaniment for storytelling. They present familiar information in a unique way. Parallax also gives users a sense of control over the content.
Undoubtedly, it makes storytelling such as this one, a truly immersive experience. Sadly, both are prone to abuse and misuse.
While they are a striking visual experience per se, using parallax and scrolling animations doesn’t mean it is a useful thing to have on your website. It won’t work if it doesn’t help get your core message across.
Instead of doing any good, it might even distract your visitors, make scrolling difficult and hurt your conversions.
Another drawback of using scrolling animations and parallax is slow load speeds. Because of hi-res images, audio and video background integrated into websites, the page might take a longer time to load which could increase bounce rates.
Minor animations on the other hand add a little bit of movement to the page. They can can draw attention to the key features of the site and the messages you want to highlight.
It’s a very effective substitute to scrolling animations but without its drawbacks.
45. Are Hover State Behaviors Necessary?
Now that mobile devices make up almost 50% of website traffic and is foreseen to increase in the years to come, will hover states stop becoming useful and slowly die out?
No. The fact is, desktop is still and will remain a large portion of any website’s traffic for a long time.
Hover states are a great way to guide visitors and increase conversions on desktop. They draw attention to what you want visitors to click on and make it easy to distinguish what CAN be clicked on.
We need to be mindful of the fact that when looking at mobile design, there will be no hover behavior. But what’s more important is, we no longer have to rely on hover state behaviors to achieve this. You can find in here a great discussion on the matter.
46. Use Social Proof Elements
Why do you hesitate to go into an empty restaurant? Why did many people feel encouraged to dump a bucket of iced water over their heads?
This behavior illustrates how our brains are wired to do what others do. Using mirror neurons and imitating each other is a survival skill humans have been using since primeval times.
The concept of reading product reviews before purchasing a product or service runs on the same idea. The “what monkey see, monkey do” concept. It’s how people gauge if you are trustworthy—by checking out if other people believe you are.
And you want to give them that. You want to reassure users you can be trusted with their contact information or credit card.
To gain this trust quickly, use visual cues of social proof. They are processed faster than words. Things like:
- Recognized security badges.
- Industry qualification or association logos.
- Logos of well-recognized client brands or partners.
- Photos of your clients’ faces who have given you a testimonial.
Placed on your homepage and key 'sales' pages of your site should immediately inspire trust or reinforce your claim about your product or service.
47. Should You Use Sticky Headers?
When the header of your website 'sticks' to the top of your screen while you scroll down the page of your website, that’s called a Sticky Header.
It’s a useful feature to have if you have long pages. It makes navigation easier and keeps your primary CTA visible wherever users go on your website.
If you decide to use it, make your logo and header as thin as possible so it won’t take up too much of the screen. This is especially beneficial if you’re having trouble seeing a whole image or you need to continuously scroll to read text.
A common method is to have the header shrink as you scroll down so a reduced version stays for the rest of the page.
48. Be Smart About Using Fonts
Standing out is one of the aims of web design. By being unique, you have a higher chance of making people remember you. That doesn’t apply to fonts though.
Website fonts are something which must be treated differently. They are best kept to the old, boring, web-safe and standard set of fonts, especially, when it comes to the body and heading. This is why:
- ReadabilityToo often, body text fonts are chosen to match the logo or branding. But they end up being too hard to read.When designing websites, you need to consider the many people with poor eyesight. Make it easier for my nana to read.
- CompatibilityUse a font that’s already on the computer of the person viewing it. Otherwise, their browser will select a replacement font to use…which can produce very interesting results.
- SpeedThe way around this compatibility issue is to use a downloadable web font. This will be downloaded with the rest of the website’s files. Make sure you don’t use a lot of complex fonts or it might slow down your load speed.
Bottom line? Stick to standard fonts. There are other ways to make your website look great. Try to stick to 2-3 fonts at most for the whole website. This makes the whole thing easier to read and more visually appealing.
Check out more information on web fonts here.
49. Long Form Content Layout
In the years before mobile, designs were crammed into the top section of the website. This is the ‘above the fold’ part of the design. The fear was, anything below that would be missed because many users didn’t like to scroll.
But that’s simply NOT true. People do scroll.
They scroll regardless of how they have been cued to do so. They scroll when the page has been designed to encourage scrolling. And though people say they don’t like scrolling, they are willing to do so.
In fact, people are so familiar with scrolling we don’t need to give them visual clues for them to do it. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling something must be wrong if I can’t scroll down a page.
The same thing goes for mobile. Once users get into the site, about half of them starts scrolling within 10 seconds. The number shoots up to 90% within 14 seconds.
It makes sense to put what is necessary above the fold, but don’t be afraid your content, long or short, won’t get read if placed below the fold. Lengthy, well-written content and tutorials that had been laid out on a scrollable page work better for users.
50. Sidebars Should Support Your Main Goals
Your main sales pages shouldn’t have sidebars. They are a distraction from the main content and purpose of the page. But consider if your other pages—those that are less important—should have it.
Like for instance, your blog. Sidebar widgets like search bars and Related Posts on blog pages will help visitors easily find the content they are looking for. You might even draw them to your main sales page this way.
Another great use of sidebars is to capture leads by adding a Call-to-Action, opt-in or enquiry form. You can also use this area to add testimonials, a short bio or some other method of establishing authority or social proof.
Whatever you do, just make sure the sidebar supports the overall primary goal of your website and doesn’t distract users from it.
51. Optimizing Above The Fold
The ‘above the fold’ section is not as exclusive as it once was. Your visitors are going to scroll to see what else is on the site.
However, the ‘above the fold’ section remains the most important area of the website. It’s where visitors will spend the first few seconds deciding if they like your page or not—the carrier of the all-important First Impression.
It’s in this precious first few seconds where they will form opinions and make judgements, not just about your website, but your whole business.
The ‘above the fold’ section is your storefront window of the 21st Century.
So, make sure you are conveying a clear message and an intentional, lasting impression on this page.
52. Improve Your Site’s Stickiness
Website 'stickiness' is a measure of how long people stay on your website. On its own, it can be a vanity metric and is not related at all to conversions and sales.
But generally speaking, the longer people stay on your website, the more likely they are to buy.
Some developers do just about anything to keep people on their site (see: clickbait 'listicle' sites). This might make people stay, but only for a while. They will ultimately leave frustrated if you don’t back it up with information; information than not just informs but also entertains.
You want visitors to leave with a sense of having received value from your website. You can do this by making your site easy to navigate, providing users with valuable and relevant content and encouraging interaction.
All these provide significant benefits such as:
- They are more likely to share your site on social media.
- They are more likely to return to your site (especially if they see a remarketing banner in the next few days).
- In the case of this ecommerce test, they are more likely to place a higher value order.
You will have a reduced bounce rate which Google measures as an indication of the value of your page when considering where you should rank.
53. Craft An Awesome Feature Area
The Feature Area sits just below the header of the homepage. It typically takes up the remainder of the ‘above the fold’ area.
Most 'above the fold' areas on modern website designs consist simply of the header and the Feature Area. You need to scroll to see anything else. This layout places a lot of focus and emphasis on the core message.
Typically, it should contain these three important elements:
- Headline and core messageSpend time crafting a really powerful headline and subheading. You need to make sure your visitors see the message they need to see. It should quickly convey what you have to offer them and why you are the best solution for them.
- Call-To-ActionYour CTA may simply be to keep on reading or find out more information. It will depend on your product and market. You need to consider at what stage of the buying process visitors arrive at your homepage. It may be to buy right now, submit a form, make a phone call, or view plans and pricing.
- Hero ImageAn image speaks a thousand words. Choose an appropriate image that supports your message and CTA.You may choose not to use an image, but make sure to rely on words, video background or whatever you want to use that can still powerfully carry your message across.
54. Make Your Content Easy To Scan
Attention is a limited resource in the digital world.
Not everybody reads, but everybody scans. Even those who read first scan what they are about to read. Because of multiple streams of media, the attention span of users has gone down really low. Thus, tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) is how the internet is used these days.
There is no point fighting it. You need to work with it.
Consider this when formatting a piece of content. Acknowledge that the viewer is only going to scan over your content and read it only when they find it interesting.
So make your content scan-friendly. Use things like:
Shorten your paragraphs to three sentences per paragraph. Summarize your main talking points. This way, people can quickly see what the content is about.
55. Make Use Of Favicons
The little icon which appears in the address bar beside the URL is called a favicon.
Is it essential to have on your website? Not really.
Favicons are not a huge game changer, but it has a subtle yet important role in building your brand.
When a user sees it on the tab, it reassures him that he came to the right place. And when he bookmarks your page, it will help him find your website much quicker.
Besides, favicons look a lot better than having a blank page icon, the icon of the CMS or theme you are using.
It is not hard to create a little 16x16px icon based on your logo. It’s also easy and quick to fix. Using favicons is one of those small touches that help improve the quality of your website.
56. Content Structure
Do you have a clear idea about what content is going to be required? If not, this should be clarified before starting on the website’s initial design.
Gathering content from the client is one of the most common issues faced when building a website. Content Snare is an excellent solution to this problem, it also forces you to plan out the content from the start, which is always the best way to do it.
If the website has a lot of content, careful consideration must be given to the structure of the pages and subpages. This will make sure people can quickly and easily find the information they are after.
Another thing to consider is how the content is laid out on each page. It’s best to have a variety of mediums to go along with your content to make it easier to understand and more interesting to read.
Articles with visuals get 94% more views than those without.
A product image is considered very important by 67% of consumers when visiting ecommerce sites. About 60% of consumers will more likely contact a company if an image appears in their local search results.
57. Optimize Images
Your eyes notice images first before any text. It’s what users can quickly process. That’s why web design is becoming more and more image-heavy.
However, there is a downside to this: images slow down the loading speed of your website, especially if you use too many of them.
To get around this, you can compress the images and make the file size smaller. Services like TinyPNG can help get this done without losing image quality.
Correctly labeling images is also best practice for SEO. Google cannot determine what an image is by looking at it, so make sure the image has an appropriate filename, title and ‘alt tag’ which describes the image and makes it easy to find in a Google search.
58. Do You Really Need A Photo Gallery?
Unless you are a photographer, you probably don’t need a gallery page on the website.
Even image-heavy businesses use Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook as places to publish their photos.
However, many businesses such as real estate listings require a gallery. There are many ways to achieve this without slowing down your speed or overwhelming users with photos.
One great option is to create a single large image with a carousel of thumbnails underneath it. This means only one image initially loads at full size, afterwhich the user can easily click on the thumbnail that grabs their attention.
59. Use A Site Map
Usually underestimated, using a sitemap has many benefits:
- It helps optimize your website for SEO.
- It can make navigation easier for visitors.
- It helps classify your content.
- New sites or changes made on your pages will be indexed faster by search engines.
A sitemap is also a great way of showing search engines all the pages you have, in case some aren’t directly linked to the navigation.
Make sure to include an XML sitemap for search engines before submitting it to Google Search Console.
There are a few great plugins which can help you create a sitemap.
60. Maximize The Footer
Like the header, your footer will probably be exactly the same on every page. It’s typically located at the bottom of the page and is a great place to put the things you want visitors to see all the time.
You can put both your primary CTA and secondary goals on the footer. Other suitable things you can put in the footer include:
- Navigation links to the less important pages of the website
- Social profile links
- Contact details or the address of a physical business
- Proof elements you want clients to be reminded of
Although located at the bottom of the page, footers should not be neglected. Remember: it will be exposed on every page of the site. Each element on the page—footers included—must all work together for any website to be truly effective.
61. Privacy Pages
Disclosure: I am not a lawyer, so when in doubt, get proper legal advice.
Spam emails are a constant and growing threat. This makes the inclusion of Privacy Policies in websites important. It assures customers that their personal information is safe.
Privacy Policies serve as your disclosure statement and so, must completely represent your company.
Unfortunately most companies copy off policies from other websites. That leaves their site with inaccurate policies, probably not knowing legislators can actually file cases against websites with incorrect or inaccurate Privacy Policies.
You might not be aware of it, but there are already many websites that had been taken down because of misinforming users how their personal information are used.
62. The ‘About Us’ Page Is Not About You
It’s fairly understandable to assume the About Page is the place where you can unashamedly talk about yourself, the company mission, values and how far you have come.
A lot of websites make the same mistake, even if they’re not vain. But doing that is wrong.
To be blunt, most customers don’t give a crap about your mission statement. They go to the About Page to learn what you can do for them and if you are capable to help them with what they need help with.
Yes, you can talk about yourself to a certain degree, but only within the context of how you can help them. Make sure to stick to that instead of narcissistically rambling on about how good you are.
63. Create Better Forms
Most websites have a Contact Form on the Contact Page. It asks for the visitor’s name, email, phone number and message.
Although this is considered a standard, you should take time in considering what you are trying to achieve with your form. What kind of enquiries are you trying to attract?
Depending on your business and market, different types of forms will work better than others. Run a test to find what works best for each business.
In some cases, having a short Contact Form gives you the best chance of having it filled out. This makes sense—no one likes filling out long forms.
But in other cases, a slightly longer, well-thought out form has a better chance of being filled out. And that chance gets higher if you make it clear to users that what you’re trying to do is find out more about their problem so you can quickly resolve it for them.
Forms are an opportunity to cut down the number of questions you need to ask. Gather all the information you need so you can provide a better solution or at least start on the right track.
Put a bit of thought into a good Contact Form. It can save the business time and provide a better buying experience for customers.
64. Rock That ‘Contact Us’ Page
Contact Pages are often boring and plain. But it’s usually the second most visited page of any site!
Use it to your advantage. It’s another opportunity to wow your visitors so jazz up your Contact Page a little. Talk about why they should contact you. Tell them what you have to offer. Convey your core message and reinforce it with some of your company’s character.
Hint on what will happen next when they contact you. The Contact Page is also a great place to put links to social media profiles or follow buttons.
65. Embedding Video
Your brain understands visuals better than words. Or words accompanied by visuals. Take a look at this and see what I mean:
With pure words, the brain has to do a lot more work. Images or videos on the other hand are processed 600,000 times faster.
And because we are hardwired to avoid cognitive strain, most people prefer to interact with video content better than reading pure text.
In fact, an average internet user watches over 200 videos per month. They are 39% more likely to share it, 36% more likely to comment on it and 56% more likely to give it a “like.”
Adding videos or a blend of media relevant to your topic will boost the readability and overall quality of your content.
There are different ways to produce videos. There’s doco style, face-to-camera, animations, slideshows with voice and more. Whichever works best for you, they are now easier than ever to produce.
When adding videos to your website, using a video host is the best option. Don’t try to host them on the same server as the website; it will become slower and the player will be sub-standard.
Avoid auto-playing without good reason. Make sure the controls are easy to navigate so the viewer can pause, skip, etc.
66. Getting The Most Out Of Testimonials
Testimonials are a great way to build the trust of your audience. It also adds a bit of social proof to your website. But most people know anyone can fake this.
To cast aside all doubts, make your testimonials traceable. Ask your happiest customers. Use their names. Get their photo and if possible, a link to their website. Better yet, get them to record a quick video or audio on their phone.
And for the power play, get testimonials from people with recognizable brands, those who are seen as leaders in your industry.
Get a testimonial from your client right after you have completed work. Don’t wait too long. Otherwise, their enthusiasm about the great work you did for them might have faded.
67. Using Tabbed Content Correctly
Tabbed content is a fantastic way to put a lot of information on one page without it being overwhelmingly long.
However, there are a few dangers in using this.
If you don’t make the tabs obvious, people who quickly scan the page will miss the information they are after. They might hassle you with questions the answers of which are already on the site. Or worse, they might leave the page without buying.
Make sure the tab, which is open by default, is what people will most likely be interested in. Secondary or supporting content can be hidden behind other tabs.
68. Why Use An Accordion Menu?
Don’t worry if you have lots of content. There’s another great way of managing it without overwhelming your visitors with too much information: using an accordion menu.
Similar to tabbed content, the accordion menu hides the content behind each section’s heading. It works through dynamic switching, moving vertically down the page rather than horizontally under tabs.
It can work really well for things like a FAQ page or any situation where you have a number of headings and topics that may not be relevant to all readers. This way, they can easily scan the headings to find the content they wish to read.
69. Should You Show ‘Recent Posts’ On A Blog Sidebar?
It depends on your blog style and purpose.
If you are regularly blogging and your blogs are mostly about recent events or news, then it makes sense to link back to your other recent materials. A ‘Recent Posts’ widget should help readers to immediately see what’s new on your blog.
If, on the other hand, your content will still be valuable to readers for sometime after publishing it, use ‘Categories’ or ‘Tags.’
You can also use a ‘Related Posts’ widget to show similar content to what is currently being viewed.
But a more effective widget is one that uses analytics data to display the most popular content. Or better yet, display the highest converting content! Here is a plugin created by the guys at wpcurve which does just that.
70. Write Killer Titles, Headings And Subheadings
When putting the content together, especially when designing the Internal Page template, don’t neglect the headings and subheadings.
They are the first things that would catch the attention of the viewer. It’s where they will get a sense of what the main body is going to be about. Make the heading catchy and the subheading descriptive.
Break up the content into smaller chunks. That way, they will be easier on the eyes and are much easier to digest. Remember that people will scan a page before they read.
Also keep in mind that the title of a page will be displayed when sharing a website on social media and it will be displayed in Google, so put some thought into it. Keep it relevant but also interesting. It helps to look at magazines and newspapers for ideas on how to write attention-grabbing headlines.
71. Build A Website With Your Customer In Mind
This is a filter which should be placed over all the aspects of the website—from the content, formatting and layout to the design and navigation of each page.
Everything should be focused on serving the customer. What does the customer need? What does he need to see? How can you make it easy—no, pleasurable—for him when he’s using the website?
If you are redesigning an existing website, get the business to conduct a survey from a few customers. Dig into analytics tracking and heat maps so you’d know how the current site is being used. All these will help you make educated decisions on the redesign.
Just remember: the website shouldn’t regurgitate the same old company-focused jargon. Think of giving value to your customers and business will surely come.
72. Make Use Of Comparison Tables And Packages
Do you have similar packages, plans or products that serve slightly different client needs?
If you do, you might inadvertently be giving your customers a hard time in choosing. And if customers are unsure which package to choose, they will need more time to think until he may end up not buying at all. This is what you call paralysis of choice.
To avoid this, use a comparison table to showcase the differences of each package. Clearly point out the difference in each. It will help him reach a decision more quickly. The key is to keep the options clearly defined and limited.
73. Woocommerce Upsells and Cross-Sells
Woocommerce has a few built-in features that can help increase the value of the sale beyond the standard shopping cart setup.
You can add ‘Related Products’ under each product’s page which will automatically add a list of products from the same categories or tags.
But another option is to specify upsells by suggesting better options based on the product the customer is looking at.
Even more powerful is the ability to add cross-sells inside the shopping cart. It offers people products from other categories other than that they are viewing or buying. You can use this to offer complementary products or accessories that might go with the product in the cart.
74. POS Integration For Woocommerce
As retail business owners recognize the benefits of building an online store to complement their physical store, the need for POS integration is also becoming more apparent.
Being able to manage inventory and customer data all in one place is not just appealing but very useful. For this, the best solution is Woocommerce POS.
It’s a fantastic plugin that makes running a POS system in your browser easy. It integrates well with woocommerce shopping carts and also works with a range of barcode scanners and printers.
75. Woocommerce vs Shopify
This is a pretty difficult debate because ultimately, it comes down to different strokes for different folks. What we can do is explain their differences so you can decide which fits you best.
To be clear, we have far more personal experience in the WP platform. But if another platform is a better fit for your client, then we’re not one to shy away from saying it.
In this case, there are clear situations where either of these will be a better fit:
Shopify - If you only have a small initial budget to get your online store up and running, this platform is for you.You don’t need to have any website development experience or coding skills to use it. That means you can put up a functional e-store without the help of a developer or designer.
It has great, out-of-the-box designs, you don’t need to worry about hosting and the monthly payments are reasonable.
Woocommerce - What Shopify lacks is true flexibility to create a custom solution. WordPress does exactly that. You can host it where you like and apply any design you can build or find. Integrations and plugins are almost unlimited.
You can easily switch hosts if your needs change. You can’t do the same with Shopify.
Depending on the hosting and web developer you go with, the ongoing costs of both platforms can be about the same.
If you want a custom solution, Woocommerce requires more initial investment in the design and development.
However the most important difference is the issue of ownership and control of your asset.
On Shopify you are at the mercy of the shopify company. If something happens to them or if they decide to close your shop for some reason, you need to start from scratch. Using WordPress gives you full ownership and control.
76. Should You Use Shopify With A WordPress Blog?
Again, this debate is not cut and dry. Some solutions will suit other people, but won’t work for others. What’s important is to give your client the information they need so they can make the right decision for their situation.
There are two main ways to blog with a Shopify store: use the Shopify blog, or build a WordPress blog in a subdomain.
If you are placing all your blogging efforts onto the Shopify platform and decide to move later, it can be a bit tricky to export all of your blog pages to a new platform. You should constantly export your blog to something like Feedly in case it goes down. That’s another thing to consider.
WordPress Subdomain - This will be something like blog.mystore.com. You will be unable to create mystore.com/blog with WordPress.
Now, this is okay. But you need to be aware that Google now treats these as two completely different websites. This means all of the SEO value built by the blog will only be helping out this sub-domain, not the shop itself.
The main benefit is complete ownership and control, unlimited customizations and slightly better SEO practice.
It would also be easier to place products from the shop inside your blog and seamlessly direct people from the blog to your shop.
The downside is on top of the ongoing costs for Shopify, you will also need to host and maintain your WordPress blog.
Looking into the future, if you decide to move from the Shopify platform to Woocommerce, your blog will still be in the subdomain, and you could lose a lot of SEO momentum moving the blog to a new address.
77. Creating Memberships on WordPress
Woocommerce has a membership add-on which is great in creating an ongoing relationship with people who would normally only make one-time purchases.
It can be used to allow people to pay a monthly membership to access special products, content and store discounts.
It also offers a fantastic amount of flexibility for a wide range of business solutions. Enhancing an ecommerce store by adding recurring revenue to your business also becomes really easy. However, it doesn’t allow members to communicate with each other.
A powerful way to make the most out of a membership is to create a community and have your members get to know each other by creating a forum. This way, they will stay longer and help your business grow.
78. Creating Subscriptions In Woocommerce
The Subscriptions add-on for woocommerce is required to sell recurring products. It can be combined with the Memberships plugin to provide special content or products for recurring customers.
At the time of writing, the latest version of the Subscription plugin also allows customers to combine a recurring subscription with an individual product.
Allowing for cross-sells in the shopping cart can be a great way to increase the profit generated by your customers. If you are selling a recurring membership or service, consider offering an information product or a physical tool that will help them make the most of their subscription.
If you are selling individual products, it can also be a great opportunity to cross-sell a subscription membership or loyalty club which entitles them to discounts from individual items or regular purchases (much like Dollar Shave Club).
This can be a great win for your clients, so consider offering these options to them.
79. ‘Buy Now’ Buttons vs ‘Add To Cart’ Button
There are different scenarios where it’s better to choose one or the other.
For customers who already know what they want and are only going to buy one product from you at a time, it is better they skip the entire shopping cart phase. They should be directed straight to the checkout page.
Under these circumstances, the ‘Buy Now’ button is appropriate to use. Customers in this case should be allowed to buy as quickly and easily as possible, with the least amount of clicks and page loads between product and payment gateway.
However, if you want to add cross-sells to encourage the buyer to purchase more things in one sale, the ‘Add To Cart’ button should work well. This can be boosted with a strategically-chosen “free shipping for orders over x” threshold.
Take note though that this slows down the buying process. So, what you need to do is decide what will be best for the buyer in your circumstance.
If you have access to data about buyer behavior, then that should dictate the way you set up the buying process. You can consider having both options and let the customers choose which they prefer to use.
80. Things To Consider When Setting Up Payment Gateways
“Should I Use Paypal or a Credit Card Processor?”
It’s one of the most common questions asked when it comes to setting up payment gateways.
The safest way is to provide both options. This way you can test which works best for you, because it’s different for different markets. You will often get surprising results.
Some people hate using Paypal while others hate filling out credit card details. If you decide to go with processing credit card payments on your site, it’s important you install an SSL certificate and make the whole website https://.
This encryption certificate may be an additional annual cost which your client should be aware of. But also let them know it would serve as his “trust seal” so customers will feel safe about giving away their information.
Google have flagged that they think all websites should use https anyway, so it might be worth taking this step even if you don’t have a store. But so far it hasn’t been a significant factor.
81. Shipping/Delivery Options
When planning to sell physical products in an ecommerce store, you need to decide what your policy will be for shipping.
Offering free shipping can be a major selling point, but you will need to work that into the margin of your products.
The first step will be to contact available courier, freight or post options and see what the actual costs will be for your products to the various areas you will be selling to. Either average it out, or work off the most expensive option.
Next, you need to determine if you can offer a flat rate which will cover all purchases or set up a table rate.
This is a separate extension for Woocommerce, but it allows you to define complex shipping rate conditions. You can define by postcode or country, weight, class of items or by number of items.
Another great technique is to offer free shipping at a cart value threshold, encouraging customers to buy one more product to get free shipping. But again, you need to work this into your margins.
Google And SEO
82. Setting Up Google Analytics
You should install Google Analytics on every single website you build. There is no good reason why not and plenty of reasons why you should.
It’s a free tool which will give you valuable information about your visitors—their geographical location, browser information and how they ended up on your website.
It will also keep track on how they are navigating your site, what pages they visit and how long they stay on each page.
These insights are extremely helpful in identifying which areas of the site are doing well and which ones need to be upgraded to encourage more sales.
83. Setting Up Google Search Console
Just like analytics, another basic that must be installed in every website is Google Search Console (Formally Webmaster Tools).
Search Console focuses on the structure of your website, any issues with the site discovered by Google bots, how google indexes your site and data relating to how the site appears in Google searches.
When used in combination with analytics, it will give you the complete, unified picture of the whole website experience.
This unified perspective will help you evaluate your website better, make site planning customized to your specific needs and therefore, more accurate.
Installing it is simple. With Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin, submitting the XML sitemap becomes very easy.
Search Console analysis should also be included in the monthly site maintenance check to ensure there are no errors or issues with the website. Otherwise, Google will be less inclined to send visitors to your site.
84. Use Goal Tracking To Place Value On Traffic
This topic can get a bit technical.
But the main thing to do is estimate the value of each ‘conversion’ on the website. A ‘conversion’ could be a form submission, visiting a page or buying a product.
Once you have done this, you can confidently measure ROI of ads used to bring traffic for your client.
If you don’t have an ecommerce store, this is something you will need to work out with your client. You can do this by things like tracking all leads manually for a month to estimate the percentage that buys.
The formula goes like this:
Average net profit of a sale X Percentage of leads who buy X Percentage of visitors who convert to leads = Average profit per visitor.
If your visitors are costing less than that number, then you have a positive ROI and should buy more visitors!
Let me give you an example to make it clearer:
Let’s say, you are earning an average of $100 from a sale. Multiply that by 30% of leads buy and 10% of visitors convert into leads. That would make visitors worth $3 each. So getting well-targeted clicks for $2 each is worth doing.
It’s important you continue to track the reality of these figures as they will change over time.
85. On-Site SEO Foundations
A whole book can be written about this topic—it’s just so huge. But here are the main things to consider for a really effective SEO strategy:
- Content Structure
The content is the voice of the website and the business. It’s the perfect way to enhance your marketing efforts and promote keyword-related content, so make sure they aren’t just unique but well-written, too.Don’t stuff your content with keywords to manipulate the ranking. Instead, keep the user in mind.Provide answers and solutions to customer problems. Organize it in a manner that’s easy to understand. Your visitors should also be able to quickly find what they are looking for.
- Permalink Structure
Permalinks should be structured in a way that is simple and short yet relevant. Again, no keyword stuffing or it could negatively affect your ranking. Use relevant words instead. Aside from better crawling by search engines, it will also provide users with a more “friendly” URL.
Have you made sure there is only one version of your website being indexed?
- Page Titles
Make sure each page has an enticing title. Something that describes the content and has the keywords people might use to find that content.
- Meta Descriptions
Although they don’t influence SEO, never underestimate the power of meta descriptions. Meta descriptions, added with related keywords where appropriate, should help in grabbing the attention and interest of searchers. Keep it well-written and relevant to encourage searchers to click through.
- Internal Links
Are you linking to other pages on your website in logical and relevant ways? An easy way to do this is by using breadcrumbs or related pages/posts widgets. But linking from within content at relevant points is best.
- External Links
External links play an important role in SEO strategy. There are two types:
‘Outbound Links’ link from your website to other websites. These have been proven to improve rankings if you are linking to relevant and credible resources.
‘Backlinks’ link from other websites to yours. These are still the strongest ranking signals for a website, but you need to be careful how you acquire them.
Content should not be adjusted to fit in keywords. Keywords shouldn’t be the main focus of the text.Instead, only add a primary keyword into the body of your content where it is relevant. Do it not more than once. Choosing other closely-related keywords and variations will help, but these should occur naturally and must not be forced into the content.
86. Yoast WordPress SEO Makes On-Page Easy
Using this plug-in has numerous benefits:
Doing on-site factors correctly becomes simpler. Verifying your website with Search Console and customizing your XML sitemap also become easier.
Yoast WordPress also allows you to optimize your website for social media sharing. It can tidy up permalinks, use breadcrumbs and optimize your RSS feed.
But the major benefit of using it is this:
It lets you view each page and edit it the way each page will appear in the search engine results. You can also edit the titles and meta descriptions and see how it will display.
Plus, you can also allocate a target keyword for each page and even get feedback on how well that page is optimized (this should be taken as a guide only).
87. Optimize For Local Search
One great way of making sure small business websites are found by search engines is by submitting to major local directories and Google My Business.
Display your address exactly the same on your website as it appears in these local directories. This way, search engines can better understand what your business is about and what you are offering.
As a result, your site would show up more on search engine results specific to people in your local area looking for the same products or services you are offering.
You can help things even further by publishing a page about major areas that you service or have offices in, especially if there is something unique about your service in these areas.
88. Next Level Remarketing
Remarketing has become common practice in any business website serious about getting traffic. However, it’s often left to a mere list of all the website’s visitors and a generic bunch of ads everyone sees.
This is better than nothing. But with a little bit of effort, you can get better results.
You can be far more relevant if you separate the people who go to specific pages. Entice them to return to the particular content that sparked their interest so they can be closer to buying from you. You will see results much better than just a simple branding exercise.
For ecommerce sites, showing dynamic ads for certain complementary products similar to the ones they viewed or bought can be especially powerful.
89. Using 301 Redirects
How many times have you moved the past 10 years? If you didn’t sign up to have your mails forwarded to your new address, you will likely lose letters sent to you.
If you have redesigned or restructured a website and didn’t set up a 301 redirect, your visitors won’t get sent to your “new place” and like your letters, you will also lose your visitors.
Redirect users to your new site without them having to type in the new URL using 301 redirect. You can easily do this with this redirection plugin.
Better yet, redirect each of the old pages to the most relevant new page on the site. This has obvious benefits for SEO. Rather than lose all the pages of the site from the search engine, Google can see the pages have simply changed and moved.
The best way to make sure this goes smoothly is to create a spreadsheet of all the old pages and their URLs and then list the new URLs next to it.
Take care to cover all the pages and that your developer can easily input all these redirects onto the new site while it is on the staging server. Screaming Frog is a great tool for gathering a list of all the pages on a website.
90. Never Use Or Recommend Cheap Hosting
In this world, you get what you pay for.”
-Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Cat’s Cradle
This saying may not be accurate all the time, but it certainly is true when it comes to cheap hosting.
Cheap, shared hosting is bad for your client for a number of reasons: one, it slows down their site which results to reduced SEO value and conversions.
Two, cheap web hosts cram as many users as they can in their servers which means reduced resources for each user.
Three, their site are more vulnerable to hacking. Because of their poor security countermeasures, you can never be sure of the security of other sites on the server.
And then there’s the overloaded database, low PHP limit, little to no backups, poor support and longer downtimes. It’s cheap, so don’t be surprised of the long list of drawbacks. Make sure you communicate these issues to your client.
If you don’t want to deal with hosting the website yourself, find a good hosting company to recommend your clients to. Another option is to find a white label solution.
91. How To Deal With Email Systems
Dealing with email support issues is the bane of any website developer’s existence. It seems every client has a different email setup with a unique and rare set of things that could go wrong.
There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle which makes troubleshooting difficult.
These solutions have different advantages and will suit different clients. But you should certainly avoid letting your clients run their emails through a server optimized just for website hosting. There is a long list of things that go wrong.
92. Speed Up Your Website
We now understand that a fast loading website has significant advantages: better customer experience, conversions, SEO. The question now is what can you do to speed up your website?
- Don’t use cheap hostingAs what we’ve mentioned earlier, cheap hosting drags down your site speed because you will be sharing server resources with many other websites. That means it won’t be served up as quickly as it could on a bigger, less crowded server.
- Use A CDN like CloudflareCDN means ‘content delivery network’ basically it is a network of servers, in all major cities around the globe. Copies of your website will be stored on these servers so visitors don’t need to download the website files from wherever the main server is, they get it from the nearest cloud server.
- Leverage caching pluginsYou can leverage caching plugins like this one to shortcut the process of delivering the content on all pages of your site.You can then implement a CDN where you can store your website data on fast proxy servers instead of having every visitor grab data from the main server.
- Optimize coding and contentThe coding and content of the website itself can be optimized to make sure images are compressed and code requests are not holding up the page.
- Regularly tidy up the filesOvertime most website accumulate unnecessary files in the database, and often unused themes and plugins, this clutter slows down the time it takes the server to find the files it needs. You might notice the same thing happens on your computer.
Covering all these things will give you good speed. If you are unsure how your site is performing, you can use PageSpeed Insights to analyze the current speed of your website. GTmetrix is another good tool to use.
Both these tools are a great way to get feedback on what might be slowing down your site and how you can improve.
93. When Should You Use SSL?
Do you want to accept credit or debit card payments on your website?
If you do, then installing an SSL certificate is not just important—it’s a requirement.
The main reason why PCI (Payment Card Industry) requires all companies and merchants handling credit or debit card payments to use SSL is to provide maximum security to sensitive data passed between the server and its visitors.
SSL encrypts the information so it becomes unreadable for everyone else except the intended server where the information is being sent to.
In short, SSL guards account information from hackers and identity thieves.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to use it on other pages of your website. You can also use it even if you’re not processing card payments. SSL doesn’t just protect card info; it can protect your whole site, ensure data integrity and keep personal information secure.
Google even actively encourages web developers to install it on all websites, announcing it would provide a small ranking boost.
94. Good Backup Practice
Murphy’s Law which states “anything that can go wrong will go wrong” is not just an old saying. It is also mathematically accurate.
Applying that to web development, it’s important to create backups at server level—and to do it every day. You never know when your hard drive will fail or when user error, accidents or disasters will happen.
When they do, you will lose all your data and there’s no way you will be able to retrieve them.
Vaultpress is a good backup plugin to use. However, you need to factor in $5 a month per client website.
A solution that can cost-effectively cover all your clients is Backup Buddy. With this plugin, you can migrate websites to new servers easily and take sites live from a staging server.
Our practice is to complete daily server level backups, plus weekly database backups and monthly manual full-site backups with Backup Buddy. These are all stored from the server and in three different places. That way, we never have to go back too far, even if some of the backups failed.
Occasionally, websites will need to be translated into several different languages. We find WPML Plugin as the best solution for this.
It allows translators to be chosen from different marketplaces and submit translated versions of the pages you want directly into your site via the plugin. It will even let you to translate the admin areas of WordPress if you need different people editing the pages.
Aside from being able to translate pages, posts and menus, WPML is also compatible with all the themes that run on WordPress API.
96. How Can I Protect My Website?
You need to protect your site from threats and vulnerabilities, sure. But you need to realize, too, that websites can never be 100% protected. There is no single plugin which can cover ALL bases.
What you can do is to use a combination of security plugins. To keep our websites secure, we currently use a combination of:
A vital element of good security is regularly reviewing and updating security processes. Make sure all passwords used by WordPress users and on the hosting account are long, secure passwords with a good mix of characters.
97. To Use Or Not To Use Page Builders?
If using a page builder is the best solution for you and your client, use it.
Clients don’t care if you spend hundreds of hours writing thousands of lines of code—that’s not what they’re buying from you. You can build their site from scratch or tweak an existing theme for all they care.
What clients want is to make more profit through a website that can help them pull in more customers.
Clients don’t care what tools you use to build their website so long as it’s easy to manage. Using page builders can be attractive to the client because it allows them to easily edit their own website without looking at a single line of code.
This is very important as clients may want to make changes to the website themselves. It can be very frustrating to find a section on the homepage can only be edited by a developer.
Clients want to skip the hassle of building websites and if page builders will make their lives easier and deliver the results they want, so be it.