Web Page Optimization – People are hunting when they visit your website
Your purpose as a webmaster and web designer is not to make a bloated, slow loading website that looks cool but doesn’t deliver, it’s to design your online presence in a highly intelligent way so your layout, space, and typography help people understand your website, it’s purpose, it’s selling point, and to help them find the answer to their problems…FAST. So let’s get into some web page optimization from a layout and design perspective.
Your best chance of making an online income from your online presence is NOT from building out an entertainment website that relies on advertisements, it’s to build an email list and to then sell products and services to those people who are interested enough in what you’re doing to sign up and commit to your website. To do this, people have to first trust your website. For people to trust your website it needs to deliver answers. To deliver answers, you have to craft the right pathways.
Layout goes beyond simply where the elements of your website go (navigation, pictures, logo, sidebars etc). More importantly you need to consider the pathways you’re building from one area of your website to the next. To do this, let’s consider the pages where the visitor begins their journey.
Web Page Optimization for Your Home Page
The home page is your multi-purpose page. It’s most critical mission is to introduce visitors to the website by having a call to action, using words that exclude people (people who are not a good fit) and to make the websites brand and identity obvious within seconds. The homepage also set’s the tone of the rest of the website with whatever choice of colors, images and typography and your writing style. Here are some examples I like and some I don’t like:
Comic book style font with a reference to star wars, self deprecation (I’m the goober to the right), social proof (239,435 subscribers – WOW), and a call to action relevant to new visitors with an email sign up form: “15 Mistakes Newbies Make When Trying to Get Healthy”.
This example wins on every level because it meets a lot of basic principles that are important to good design like:
- With your homepage, don’t expect people to read that much.
- Make it instantly clear what your website is about (as in within the first 5 seconds)
- Use short descriptions and links to your “fall in love” content.
- Have a call to action – build your list. Otherwise all your other promotion efforts will be in vain.
Well at least the logo has been redone a bit to update the website somewhat. I admire this design in the sense that it’s bad, it’s designed to be mediocre and that this website is still very successful in spite of the poor design that has not seen any change since it launched almost a decade ago.
The problems are many. The homepage is too long, there are too many calls to action on this page. Links to an email sign up form, affiliate products, his own products. But it works for one key reason, what I like to call “fall in love” content.
It always comes back to this: You can screw most everything up, but if you just provide enough value with your website it can still overcome any handicap you throw at it.
If you actually give this website a chance instead of dismissing it as old and out dated and actually read the content, you will be impressed with the level of thought and quality that has gone into the published work despite the lack of thought and quality that has gone into the design.
I accept though that this is someone’s personal blog on personal development and thus design choices are a personal choice that often reflect the style of the individual behind the website. Steve Pavlina’s website is a reflection of the personal style (or lack there of) as well as a reflection on the deeper character of the man. Steve’s background is in computer programming, so it’s no surprise design and asethetics are not key components of his design.
A clever design here, this one rotates different call to actions until you subscribe or click “x” to close the offer. In addition to that, a link in the navigation bar leads to a pathway page to where?
Take a guess?
Yup, another offer to subscribe to one or all of the autoresponder powered email lists.
This blog is using rebel mouse to generate a Pintrest style homepage full of links to various blog posts, categories, videos and podcasts.
I’m not crazy about long homepages, but it works for this website as the call to action is found at the very top of every page as well as at the bottom. Since the call to action rotates, it makes it more effective to have a Pintrest style homepage to get people into the content.
I also like the link in the navigation to a pathway page to again lead visitors into subscribing to an email list of their choice. It actually makes the email list seem higher value as the offer is well written and specific to a beginners problem.
On this website, the image rotation is taken care of by Office AutoPilot, a very expensive piece of software used to implement business automation across areas of your website like email marketing.
After the homepage, you will have to construct pathway pages depending on your topic. These are pages that make it easy for people to navigate your website from broad top view perspective and then to narrow down. For example, when I first launched this website I had a navigation section called “tutorials”.
Tutorials >>> page explaining about the tutorials >>> links to more specific tutorials >>> copywriting, web design, SEO, content marketing, email marketing, website planning, HTML and CSS, WordPress.
I received many emails complementing me on the structure and layout of the old design of the website because REDUCING FRICTION in regards to finding specific content is more important than REDUCING CLICKS. People don’t mind clicking as long as your guiding your web visitor as they’re on their hunt.
While many liked this layout, based on my analytics and page views I made the decision to abandon this structure in order to cut and simplify the essential message behind the tutorials into 5 main topic ideas: online success and productivity, planning, building, promoting and profiting which you can check out on the home page at the bottom and in the navigation menu at the top.
These sorts of pages should act as menus for people to dive deeper into a specific idea. Your goal with designing these pages is to demonstrate quality, keep the reading to a minimum as people don’t want to read a lot until they’ve found the first plausible option (once they click through, then go into detail). Copywriting for the web goes into more detail about how design enhances your content.
Online content is not a research paper, it’s not a book either. With your pages of content keep to the essential message and only the essential message with each page. This means take a minimalistic approach to your posting and cut what can be cut. People don’t want to read much…they only want to read ideas, tactics and strategies that will get them results.
People are on your website to gain insight and information. Give it to them directly and quickly and as efficient as possible.
Final Words and What To Do Next
For your website and web page optimization, the three main pages people will experience on your website are the homepage, pathway pages that direct to other content or your content pages themselves which should be the end destination for people who are using your website properly. Depending on your needs, I would look through Theme Forest or StudioPress for a theme that is the right mix of design, layout, typography and color to help people understand your website. The top rated themes over at Theme Forest are all of a similar, corporate style with a prominent homepage. Good, but sometimes I find these themes a bit bloated which is why I like StudioPress if your goal is to focus more on a publishing strategy for your website.
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