Every web site owner shares one thing in common. They believe their web site is fine and there’s no need in testing its performance.
No web site is usable by everyone. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t understand what to do. The costs for building a web site that is accessible, understandable and can be used on all devices in all situations is not only out of the reach most budgets, but not a requirement. This means lost conversions simply because web sites aren’t built for everyone who may visit.
How we interact with web sites is studied and analyzed in great depth by universities and professional organizations. Certain patterns become obvious. Many of them become the basis for usability heuristics, which are guidelines for creating user friendly web sites. For example, we now know more about color contrasts and how poor contrasts make reading online difficult enough to cause site abandonment. We also know that people can have an emotional response to a website, which opened the doors to new ways of designing sites to help visitors feel calm, hopeful, confident and intrigued.
The Difference between Usability and Persuasive Design
Most site owners take it for granted their web sites are working unless they have data indicating there are problems with conversion rates. Their first investment is typically put into search engine marketing strategies to bring in more traffic. When this doesn’t show improvements, the tendency is to do more online marketing and continue to ignore the site design. Here at Internet Marketing Ninjas, we strongly recommend a usability audit along with online marketing because conversions are tied to web site design.
Usability and user experience determine where page elements go and why they go there. User interface engineers don’t make up designs and cross their fingers hoping things will work well. Instead, they follow usability guidelines and human factors practices, accessibility guidelines, target user research and credibility standards.
You might be surprised to know that most web sites are not built to meet usability standards because not all site designers are trained in user experience and usability design. Site owners who hire out for design work may not realize their web site does not meet usability standards. They don’t know what to look for. We do, which is why we prefer our clients to let us review their site.
Persuasive design is focused on activating page elements to perform specific goal oriented tasks such as buying a product, filling out a sales lead form, subscriptions, registrations and more. This is the second major finding in our work with clients. They may have a site that meets many usability standards but is still not converting because it is not designed to do so. Once again, site owners trust their designers built them a site that would do its job, only to learn that it is not performing as expected.
Why Do Marketers Care About Site Design?
Any action taken by a web site visitor is a potential conversion. This is why usability folks are so picky about where things go. This is why persuasive design techniques are so important.
A correctly designed PPC landing page contains an action to be performed by page visitors. This action has to be easy to locate and understand how to use it. And, this action must provide a really good reason for site visitors to perform that action on that landing page instead of leaving, searching again, landing on another site and taking action on that site.
Marketing alone doesn’t make the conversion happen but it certainly helps by bringing in targeted traffic. Optimized content for search engines on the landing page contributes to the competitiveness of the page. Well written marketing content around the call to action aids in making decisions, which is another contribution for conversions.
All of these vital marketing techniques work quite well as long as the landing page has no usability and user interface issues blocking the conversion.
Why Get Periodic Site Reviews?
The moment you launch your web site, it’s already facing changes in mobile devices, search engine algorithm changes, new competition, more people getting online and new reasons to design for various people, their environments and their changing habits. You may think your slider taking up the entire half of your homepage is helping in some way but so far studies show that conversions don’t come from them. They are a distraction.
Every action we take online depends on who we are, why we went to the site, what we were looking for, our physical bodies, emotional state, our habits and judgment calls based on trust and credibility. Conversions are task-based. This is the mystery behind them.
A usability and persuasive design site review will determine if your web site is designed to meet your conversion goals. It’s the perfect companion for online marketing strategies.
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