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Website design plays an incredibly important role in everything from conversion rate optimization to brand trustworthiness and search engine rankings. A poorly designed website won’t get you very far.
However, a well-designed website that does not align with the expectations and needs of your target audience is just as likely to produce sub-par results. So, here’s what you can do to make sure what you have to show is exactly what your customers and clients need.
Study Your Competition
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First, you’ll want to analyze your competitors. You’ll do this to gather inspiration and see what your target audience is looking for.
Ideally, you will use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush to see what kinds of visits and engagement your competitors are seeing. If a specific brand seems to be getting all the traffic, try to figure out why that may be.
Note that while you do want to be original and stand out, you also want to give your audience what they are used to. Don’t invent a whole new website navigation if it has a chance of alienating your visitors.
Choose A Relevant Color Palette
When it comes to your choice of color palette, you can again rely on competitor research. For instance, if everyone in your niche is leaning towards blues and greens, you can do quite well by stepping out of that box.
Read up on color theory and what each color means in the design world, and then make your choice. Rely on the experience of designers more than your own taste, though. They will already know what works in your niche.
Align Your Message With Audience Segments
Aim to offer different audience segments different paths to take. No matter what your products or services are, different buyer personas will need different solutions from you. If you make it very easy for them to understand where to go based on what they’re looking for, they’ll appreciate your brand more.
To be able to do that, you will need to conduct some very thorough buyer persona research and creation.
For inspiration, take a look at Cornell Iron Works and how they’ve designed their homepage. They tell you in clear terms to go one way if you are an architect, another way if you are a contractor, and so on.
Focus On Them, Not You
Never put yourself first. No matter how innovative your solution is, how much research and effort has gone into it, or how well you’ve done: always speak about what you can do for your customer.
This means that your copy needs to be result-oriented as opposed to feature-based. Of course, you’ll highlight your product or service, but first, make it very clear why the customer should care.
Take a look at January and how they put their clients first. Their main messaging is about “personalized health,” “your glucose curve,” “your food IQ,” and so on.
Address Specific Pain Points
Similarly to the previous point, you also want to be as specific as possible about the solutions you provide. The more obviously you can say, “this is your problem, and this is how we can help you,” the better.
For example, Kirby does a great job. They tell you you will save money when you buy their product, that you can use it for practically anything you need to clean, and that it will last you a lifetime. This is an incredibly simple yet highly effective way to address the most common pain points a customer will have when purchasing this specific type of appliance.
Make Navigation Easy
Shoppers want to find what they want, spend as little time on your website as possible, and leave knowing that they’ve made the right choice. How they are able to navigate your website is thus a major UX factor.
You don’t need dozens or hundreds of pages if you are selling a handful of products. You don’t need to have a very specific page about every specific aspect of your product. And most importantly, you need to make it very easy for visitors to convert.
Take a look at Kopi Luwak Direct. Their main page is easy to navigate, and the menu takes you right where you need to be. There are no complex sales pages and funnels that take you on an entire journey before you get to place an order.
Of course, you don’t have to be as simplistic about it. But the general idea should be clear: the simpler you make it for the customer, the better.
Keep It Simple
Speaking of keeping it simple, here’s another example of a homepage to take inspiration from.
ATH has numerous products and, thus, many product pages. However, they’ve kept their homepage simple and to the point. They hook you with a question (are you getting enough protein?), and then they show you their product categories and their bestselling products.
They could have just as easily created a more complex and informationally overstimulating homepage. This way, they reduce choice paralysis, show their visitors what their store has to offer and let them take their time choosing the category they want to explore first.
Keep Your Images Real
Finally, to truly appeal to your target audience with your website design, aim to always use real, original images. Or, better yet, consider utilizing user-generated content.
That way, you will prove you are authentic and trustworthy and that you understand what your audience is looking for. Stock images can never be as effective as something you conceptualize and execute yourself.
BarkBox is an excellent example. They feature a lot of UGC (the nature of their brand, of course, makes this very easy for them), and they shoot all of their boxes and products themselves. They don’t use stock dog photos, which makes them that much more relatable and the products more appealing.
Don’t Forget About Optimization
Finally, let’s briefly touch upon the importance of optimization. For your target audience to truly appreciate you, you need to provide a smooth browsing experience on all devices and screen sizes.
This primarily means optimizing for mobile-first. Ensure all of your visual content loads seamlessly and fast, and consider where you place each clickable element, depending on screen orientation. It may seem like a trivial thing, but if you make clicking on a CTA less straining on the thumb, you will greatly increase your conversion rates.
Designing your website with your target audience in mind will take a fair amount of research and planning. You will need to understand what your customers and clients are looking for from you, how you are currently meeting their expectations, and what others are doing in that regard. Only then can you hope to achieve your goal. The more you can rely on concrete data, the better, so utilize your analytics to make educated decisions.
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