A website is made of many different components, each with its own purpose. These components come together to create a tool that fulfills several different objectives independently of one another. Each piece does its job and only interacts with another component when it is designed to do so. Understanding these different purposes is the key to understanding how the website’s various components fit together into a cohesive whole.
An example of a site that is not cohesive is one that is receiving traffic but is not generating leads. Alternatively, it might be generating leads wanting to spend $500 on a product or service, while the product or service itself costs $5,000. Ensuring that a website produces desirable results is accomplished by understanding what visitors want and giving it to them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Traffic is indeed the lifeblood of your website. Without traffic, your website will have no chance of creating meaningful results for you or your customers. However, not all traffic is the same. Traffic can be categorized by the intention of the person searching for the site, often dictated by the experiences that led them to your site.
What many business owners know intuitively (but do not logically understand) is that a web page has a very specific purpose. That purpose is to provide information to a reader.
Readers will generally be in search of something, and will arrive on a specific page because they believe (or have been led to believe) that it will contain information that will satisfy their intent.
When you’re working on your company’s website, you are acting as a web designer. And as a web designer, it is your job to fulfill these three objectives:
Search traffic all falls into this category. This is the umbrella term for all the people who visit your website. People will arrive at your site from many different avenues. Search engine queries, paid advertisements, and other forms of digital marketing are the largest source for many businesses. However, offline marketing also plays a significant role, particularly for local businesses. These sources could include print and radio ads, billboard impressions, or even searches from users who saw your website printed on the back of a company vehicle.
Some users who arrive on the website will go on to become leads. A lead is created whenever a site visitor provides you with information rather than only receiving it. A lead is anybody who fills out a form, makes a phone call, sends an email, signs up for a newsletter, or trades their email for a PDF or another lead magnet. The goal of the primary website is generally to convert traffic to leads—we’ll discuss this shortly.
Prospects are leads who have communicated with a person from your company at least once. A lead becomes a prospect the minute they exchange an email, phone call, text message, or other interaction with a real human being from your company. Additionally, a prospect can be considered anybody who submits purchase-oriented information in an automated sales funnel before purchasing. Ideally, this user would convert to a customer in a matter of minutes, but that’s not always the case.
A customer, obviously, is anybody who has done business with you involving a transfer of money. A customer can be someone who pays $1 for a PDF or somebody who pays $30MM for a jet airliner.
Pages only seen by prospects and customers include the Thank You page, the order confirmation, an order tracking page, and the like. These pages are generally straightforward and need very little critical thought.
Traffic and leads are the most critical types of visitors you’ll ever have on your website, and designing intentionally for each is something that cannot be overlooked.
A well-designed general website typically has two purposes: to present information neatly and clearly for visitors to review while encouraging visitors to remain on the website for as long as possible. An engaging and informative website will keep visitors around for longer and keep them coming back for more. This is always a good thing.
Here are a few design tools you can use to keep users on the website longer:
Avoid using large blocks of text, split it up with images, and utilize headings to your advantage to keep things scannable.
This will give the user an opportunity to read something relevant to what they just finished reading and encourage them to stick around longer.
You can do this by utilizing a sticky header, using brand colors for headlines or decorations, and mentioning your company periodically. Brand recognition is important for increasing the likelihood of traffic turning into customers.
This is arguably the most important part of your website: the pages designed to capture leads. Leads will sometimes come to the general website as traffic, and it’s very important to have a call to action to allow these visitors to become leads.
However, most businesses will find that their leads arrive on the site from alternate sources, such as PPC ads, social media campaigns or other such marketing avenues. It is wise to create a specialized page (referred to as ‘landing pages’) for each such source designed specifically to capture its leads.
Leads arriving on landing pages from advertisements will often have specific needs and expectations that your landing page must answer. Here are a few design tips to help you do this:
While the objective on the general site is to keep users around for longer, the goal of a landing page is more specific. Rather than encourage users to click around, a landing page should be focused on ensuring that its users read as much of the landing page content as possible.
A landing page has a very specific purpose, such as to encourage a user to fill out a form, send an email, call a phone number, make a purchase or something similar. The landing page’s purpose should be evident immediately when the user arrives on the site, as as the content continues, the landing page’s purpose should be reiterated until the user is ready to click on it.
A landing page, as stated previously, has a very specific purpose. Links that lead away from the page to external sources should be used only when absolutely necessary, and may even be configured to open in a new tab so that the landing page remains open.
Links that return to the main website should only be used in the header or footer, both of which will often be hidden from view on the landing page, or at least refactored considerably. In practice, a landing page is usually seen as independent from the main site.
Using Google Analytics or a similar tool is a great way to monitor the performance of your website as a whole as well as the performance of each individual page. Keep an eye on what sort of traffic each page is receiving and how well that page is converting that traffic to the next stage in the sales funnel. Don’t hesitate to test different designs and different copy as time goes by. This part of a website’s lifecycle is all about small adjustments and incremental improvements.
In order to get the best results possible, it’s important that you intentionally write and design each page of your website to cater to the type of traffic you expect it will primarily receive. If you want to talk with me about the best way to make this happen for your specific business, click the link below to schedule a free 30 minute Zoom conversation.