In my last blog, “Give Your Website Personality”, I shared with you about creating a Website with your own personality and voice. Now that you have mastered that concept, let’s talk about how to design your website specifically with your target audience in mind.
How do you do that? The Innovate! Business Marketing’s (formerly Wild Women) Word Wizard, Freddy Zylstra wrote “Why Psychographics Matter to Small Business” which will help you begin to identify your audience.
If you don’t know your target audience you won’t be able to design a website that speaks directly to them. After you have gathered information about your audience, ask yourself “what is the purpose of my website?” Are you trying to sell them a product or service? What do you want to say about that product of service?
Most small businesses (and some large) make the mistake of writing about how ‘great’ their product is, and how wonderfully qualified they are to tell the audience what they should buy. What your audience really wants to know is, ”What can you do for me?”
When you understand who your audience is – what they like, their interests, where they shop and what they purchase – what they want from you becomes clear. All you need to do is let them know how you can provide that for them.When designing your website, think of it as a billboard that will be seen as people drive past it at 65mph. Catch their attention and make it easy to remember, and easy to answer their question ‘What’s in it for me?”. Good design goes way beyond making things just look ‘pretty’.
There are many websites that will catch your eye for the worst reasons! Outdated, too noisy or a website heaped with Flash will only increase your bounce rate (the rate at which visitors run away from your site as fast as possible). The goal is to achieve a balance between an appealing website that catches the attention of your target audience and one that provides them with useful information. Design your website using the basic design fundamentals:
• Visual Hierarchy – Placing information on your page with importance based on the biggest to the smallest will direct your audience as to what they will look at first. They will know at a glance exactly what you have to offer.
• Good Proximity – Consider the importance of placement. Where you place your information within your layout is important keep it clean, legible and concise.
• Contrast – Contrast is used to direct the reader’s attention to remember something in particular. The viewer’s brain will interpret contrast and automatically categorize the elements of design into those which are most dominant and those which recede into the background. Knowing how this works will enable you to use it to your advantage in web design.
• Typography – Fonts or typefaces have personality also. Break away from the overused Helvetica, Times and Veranda typefaces. Serif typefaces are the ones with little feet; their style is classic and traditional. Sans-serif typefaces have no feet; they are streamlined, contemporary and modern in style. In the past, using custom fonts was a poor choice, but with the advent of Google Font API you can find the perfect custom font for your website – and it’s free.
Keep your text readable. White text on a black background can be very hard to read. It is best if your background is a light color with a dark font color. Keep the size of your text between 11 to 13 pts depending on your audience. Older audiences will appreciate a large size font.
• Color – Use no more than two or three colors that you pull from the brand/logo on the website and/or those that blend well with the personality of your business. Remember the overuse of color can be distracting. In your research, did you find that your audience related to more earthy colors? Or, is your ‘ideal client’ attracted by primary colors? Look at the places they go to shop – what colors are found there?
• Images or graphics– A picture is worth a thousand words! Images will make your content come alive, create an interest that will stop them in their tracks and make them want to read your content before they move on to something else.
• Simplicity – Keeping your website design simple and focused with adequate white space will allow your audience to focus on the message you are trying to convey. One of the most common mistakes amateur web designers or DIY’ers make is creating a website that is crowded and too busy.
Your website is one of the most important pieces of marketing in which your company can invest. A poorly planned and designed website can do more harm to your business than not having one at all.
Do your homework first! Spend time deciding what ‘personality’ your website will have to attract your ideal audience. Learn about the psychographics of that audience. Create your powerful ‘brand’ before you begin your website design.
Hiring a professional web designer and a content writer will give you a huge advantage over your competition. They should work together to create the perfect image for your business and get your message to your ideal client in a language they understand.