No matter what industry you’re in, chances are your website is battling for visitor attention. No less than a fully optimized web presence built to respond to any device is required to get ahead of today’s fierce, strategic competition. Cisco estimates that 50 billion smart devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020 – that’s three times the 15 billion devices that are connected today!
One of the biggest challenges when designing a website is not only creating a flawless experience for all devices but also one that engages the visitor and holds their attention in the right way. Here are a few design ideas that will increase visitor engagement on your website:
1. Be Distinct
Distinctive design provides the opportunity to influence the visitor by striking a balance between regular content and the important details. Here are a few specific design approaches that can come in handy:
- Reduce Visual Clutter: Reducing the amount of content on a page helps to clarify the important content, and will improve the visitor’s understanding. A minimal design approach can provide a way to give visual prominence to only the key points.
- Increase White Space: Providing plenty of whitespace around important content will also help the audience to focus on the meaningful content. This will improve readability and the visitor’s understanding of the intent of each component.
- Hierarchy: Carefully crafted hierarchy that visually emphasizes the important content and de-emphasizes less important will increase your website visitor’s understanding and retention. Organize large chunks of information into sections with clearly defined headers, and use bulleted lists and tables when appropriate. Don’t forget about considerations for the experience on a mobile device to ensure the hierarchy remains, especially for areas with reduced content.
- Visitor Focus: Understanding the audience of your website is a key element of a successful design, especially when targeting visitor focus. Speaking clearly to the audience(s) will increase their understanding of the website’s message and improve the user experience. Design components with the appropriate structure and behavior that fits the idea you wish to convey. Frequently used methods for drawing focus are:
- Graphic figures: dates, prices, statistics
- Humor. When appropriate, distinct, clever words can be effective for the audience.
- Animation. Movement draws attention, so make sure it’s applied to the important information and is coded in a way that moves in a smooth, fluid motion.
2. Tell a Story
Visual storytelling has become an important element of successful content marketing and is a great way to convey emotion and drive visitor engagement – especially when you’ve crafted the experience specifically for your target audience.
Here are a few popular ways to visually tell a story:
- Images: A picture is worth a thousand words, but it takes more than one image to tell a good story, and they should always be optimized for SEO. With the use of captivating imagery, you can guide the visitor’s eye to evoke an emotional response and compel them to spend more time on your site. According to Getty Images, there are four factors that determine how effective an image is:
- Authenticity. People respond to real life examples that display human vulnerability.
- Cultural Relevance. The visual should be socially acceptable for today’s standards.
- Sensory Currency. Capitalize on human emotions.
- Role Model. Archetypes and role models are often successfully used as part of the language of a brand’s foundation.
- Videos: A video is a natural form of storytelling. Some reports are forecasting that by next year, 74% of all internet traffic will be video. Because 65% of viewers watch more than three-quarters of a video, this is a huge engagement factor! Videos can be an entertaining method of adding important, relevant content to your website. Content such as tutorials, video blogs, and client testimonials can also help build trust with the audience. Videos should be optimized to reach as many buyer personas as possible, and will increase traffic to your website.
- Infographics: We remember only 20% of what we read, but as much as 80% of what we see. Infographics can be used to grab attention, engage, and persuade the visitor by providing a condensed visual representation of complex information in an easy to follow graphic. Website visitors enjoy informative visuals, and are more likely to stick around longer and share content on social media when engaging, relevant visuals are included.
- Visualizations: Graphs, charts, statistics and tables are also great visual solutions for making an impact, explaining detailed relationships, trends, and patterns or a way of thinking about opposing ideas.
- Pie charts are frequently used to display percentages.
- Flow charts often communicate a process or workflow.
- Tables and bar graphs work well for illustrating change over time or comparing differences.
- Statistics are great ways of communicating impact, rankings, or improvements.
3. Sign-up Now
Encouraging your visitors to sign-up for anything on your website will require a clear conversion path. Designing the experience in the right way will not only ensure lots of leads, but lots of the RIGHT leads, with a higher chance for conversion. An optimal conversion path includes a distinctive, brand-centric design for each important element:
- Multiple Calls-to-Action: Since many users skim through content, it’s always better to have more than one call-to-action on a page for multiple conversion opportunities. The most effective call-to-action will persuade the visitor to take action, whether it be to download an E-book, sign-up for the newsletter, share on social media, or buy now, etc.
- A button or link should stand out on the page. Size, placement, and color are extremely important for engaging call-to-action buttons, so using accessible, attention-grabbing accent colors with logical (and prominent) placement is key.
- Include a verb on the button or link to encourage an action such as “Download” or “Sign-up Today” to takes the visitor to the landing page.
- Landing Page: The Landing page is an important component for orienting the visitor and persuading them to take an action. Keep in mind that some visitors will not arrive at each landing page by traveling from the homepage, so pay careful attention to ensure consistency and priority for the important elements.
- Headline: The headline must be extremely clear, with concise copy. Add imagery to engage or help explain visually.
- Hero Image or Video: Most often, the use of a hero image with a distinctive approach on a landing page will increase the social shares and visitor engagement. The landing page hero is an opportunity to visually appeal to the visitor emotionally and is often the perfect location for the primary call to action button paired with clear, relevant text.
- Social Share Component: Don’t confuse social share with social proof. Landing pages do not always benefit from social sharing components, with recent studies showing it can actually reduce conversions due to distractions. If the goal is to encourage the user to complete a form, don’t distract them.
- Social Proof: Social proof can be a very a persuasive approach. Including customer testimonials, highlighting statistics of satisfied customers or influential customers can go a long way towards convincing the visitor to ‘Sign-Up’ or ‘Buy Now’.
- Form: If whatever you are offering is not being given away for free, most likely you’ll want to – at the very minimum – gather a name and email address for lead generation. Forms should be as simple and effortless as possible, and a smooth experience on all devices.
- Thank You. Congratulations! The form has been completed and you’ve generated a lead. Now you need to thank them for their efforts. The visitor should be presented with a nice thank you message, along with a summary of the task they’ve successfully completed. If you’ve promised something, such as a free ebook, this page should also include the offer. Let your visitor share the offer on social media and include links to additional targeted resources you may have available.
- Confirm. Always send an email confirmation that also includes the free offer and social sharing capabilities. Making it easy for visitor reference, it also provides the ability for personalization, and another way for them to share the content with their friends.
4. Responsive, Responsive, Responsive
Saying it out loud three times will unfortunately not make it happen. But, responsive design is THE most important part of visitor engagement in today’s market. According to Google, visitors who have a pleasant experience are 67% more likely to purchase a service or product, and they’ve made it clear that websites with a bad experience on mobile will suffer in rankings as a result. Although we can gain insight for our targeted audience with user personas, there are so many different device sizes these days it’s hard to know which one will be used to access your website. Once a responsive design is in place, all pages should be thoroughly tested on multiple breakpoints and platforms to ensure every visitor is provided with the optimal experience.
- Navigation on mobile should be crafted to provide a clear method for accessing priority content.
- Ensure all buttons and form fields are large enough with sufficient spacing for people’s fingers on mobile devices.
- Ensure all images used, especially the hero, are equally as engaging on mobile devices. Some designs may call for serving a different image for mobile.
- Consider reducing excessive copy for smaller breakpoints. Mobile visitors often have different objectives and are interested in only the highlights provided in small sections of copy.
- Design for retina devices. Retina devices have four times more pixels than a standard screen, so using larger images and SVG graphics for icons will provide the most clarity. Usually, images at double the normal size are enough, and a png backup is needed for devices/browsers unable to read svgs.
5. Accessibility, Always
Well, we are talking ‘visitor engagement’ so that should include everyone, right? Ignoring the need for accessible design is ignoring the potential 50 MILLION disabled users of today’s internet, in the U.S. alone. Designing for the web in an accessible way is to make considerations for how people with disabilities interact, understand and navigate your website. This approach will also benefit those visitors who may be aging (with reduced vision or mobility), or temporarily disabled (like a broken arm). Here are a few resources to learn more about designing for accessibility: