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A big part of marketing is putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Business owners should likewise take a step back occasionally and look at their website from the customer’s perspective. Let’s take a look at the home pages of two websites so you will see exactly what I’m talking about.

As you look at these sites, act like you are the customer and you have no ties to either one. You go looking to buy Widget X online and you find this website listed first:

Exhibit A

How user friendly is this site? In other words, how easy is it for a customer to look at this website and know exactly what they are supposed to do in a few seconds time?

Now, you return to the search results and you find this website:

Exhibit B


What you see above is a clean, orderly interface. You know exactly what they sell, and they make it easy to buy. The design is excellent, and the checkout process is simple. I actually went through the process of buying a shirt on this site, and I was done after a few easy steps.

Why you should care

Sometimes website owners get so used to their website that it becomes hard to see past the usability flaws. Before they know it, the site starts looking like Exhibit A when it should look as good as Exhibit B. Hopefully you don’t have a site like the first one up above, but I’m willing to bet yours could still use some improvement. Here are a few areas where your site might be suffering and what you can do about it.

Too much text distracts from the call to action

Don’t get caught in the trap of cramming too much text onto your homepage. Unfortunately, if you try to give readers all the information at once, you risk boring or confusing them. That leads to high bounce rates and less conversions. Bounce rate refers to how many site visitors leave your site from the same page they came from, without exploring any other pages. Obviously, you want to keep your bounce rate as low as possible.

How to do it right

All you need on the homepage is what leads a customer to buy now. If you want them to buy a t-shirt, put up a big picture of a t-shirt. Put the price right underneath it. Then either make it clickable, or put a big bold button to the right of it that says something like “buy now”. If you don’t sell t-shirts, apply this advice to your product. Simplicity will work anywhere.

Make your content to the point

When you have to include text on the homepage, it must be clear and to the point. Consider the what, why, when, where, and how, and answer it as concisely as possible. Test out your site content by getting somebody else to read it. If they get it the first time, and it’s perfectly clear (avoid industry jargon), you’ve got something to go with. Also, don’t forget the navigational text should be simple, too. Avoid having a top menu, left sidebar menu, right sidebar menu, mini menu, bottom menu, etc. Just put it up top or on the left side and be done with it.

Color and size matter

Pick the area on the page where you want to direct the most eyeballs and make it stand out. If it is a “Sign Up” or “Buy Now” button, color it in stark contrast to the background so it’s easy to see. Make your main call to action button larger than your intuition tells you, and put it in a prominent and clean area of the homepage. You have unlimited options, but the concept of bold and obvious remains.

You might need a redesign

Most of you would agree that the red and blue thing at the top of this post needs a website redesign. The hard part is acknowledging that your site needs one too. Moving buttons around, changing colors, and cutting out text is enough for a lot of websites, but some are too far gone. If you’re there, start from scratch with a designer you trust. Just make sure that your designer knows how to design a site that converts into sales.

Conversion is an essential part of search engine marketing because it deals with what happens after the customer has clicked on your search engine listing. Make sure you are balancing your resources between search results and conversion, because nobody will purchase your amazing product if they can’t find it on your site.

*Exhibit B is the totally rad Ugmonk.com. Buy one of their shirts.