Sometimes when you work on a site for years, your eyes start to cross. Testing, testing, re-testing and some more testing allows you to see how people see your site, use your site and choose you. After a time, you forget the thrill of meeting someone who needs a new site – not a redesigned site – A NEW SITE.
Oh the joy!
This client is wanting to build a niche site on his pet photography business. As a professional photographer on several topics, he was wondering what niche generated the most revenue. He had decided that the pet industry was lucrative. If dog costumes have a thriving industry, then photographing them is right behind it.
This client is also an avid Apple product consumer. Any iProduct is bought at time of release and thoroughly broken-in before the general populace reads about it online. Because of this, he was willing to adapt his life to the iPad, but there proved to be a problem.
He has his site built in Flash. He told me “I know you don’t like flash, but…” I countered saying that I actually like Flash. It’s fun! But Apple hates Flash. Google doesn’t crawl flash. That’s two heavyweights against one.
All it took was to see that tiny little blue box in the middle of his new productivity tool to see that he wasn’t going to get a visitors.
If you want to see how Google sees your site, type in your url in the search box, hit enter and click “cache.” You’ll see the latest snapshot of what Google sees. A flash site will show up a gleaming blank white.
So now the redesign begins, but how do you design that capitalizes off your SEO campaign?
First, there is something every company needs to consider. One site cannot be everything to everyone. Having multiple sites with different focuses will help, but if you just want one site, lets look at some best practices.
1. The F
People tend to read in an “F” pattern as they scan a website. This means, the top left corner is a prime spot. Some people put a click-able logo that always leads to the home page, but why not a very succinct call-to-action with the logo: “Download Now” “Schedule Now” “Get Fixed Today” “$25 off coupon!” It’s a prime piece of real estate to not utilize. The “F” is probably the most important part of this list.
2. User-focused content
Your site’s main purpose is to generate leads and sales. It is not to tell people your story. A story doesn’t pay the bills, a sale does.
3. Horizontal Navigation
Main navigation across the top makes it easy for your site to be used.
4. Three columns of content or large quick links
Again, user-focused content comes to play here. Instead of “who we are” and “where we came from” and “where we are going” have “Problem X? Solution X!” “Problem Y? Try Solution Y!” “Problem Z? Solution Z!”
5. Vertical Navigation
I call this “Expert Navigation” I would use for more long-worded solutions that are common to your clientele like:
- Spring Tips for your Home
- Freeware Alternatives to Commercial Software
- Solution Y Testimonials
- Solution X Student Discounts
6. Header and Footer Optimization
A header and footer of your site are consistent across every page. Think about what you want to be known for in there and you’ll help it index correctly.
7. Every link goes to its own content
If you have a link about car stereos, then that page needs to be all about car stereos. It doesn’t need to mention other accessories. Keep each page hyper-focused.
8. Entry forms on every page
Every page should have a form for a visitor to fill out. The home page, the content pages, even the about us page. You’ll see very quickly how people respond on which page.
9. Don’t go too deep
It’s astounding to me that sites I have measured have 50+ pages and yet those pages are rarely seen. The conversion forms from item #3 and the contact us form are the biggest converters on one client’s site. In fact, the people who don’t necessarily fit into the “3 main categories” go to the “contact us” where i have less required information and a big enough text area for them to spill out their problem.
Keep the customer in mind, make it easy for them to contact you, make it pleasing to their eye motion and you’re on your way to building a great lead generation site.