5 Conversion-Making Website Changes You Can Make Right Now
James Clear hosted a webinar by marketing copywriter D. Bnonn (say “Non”) Tennant last Tuesday titled 10 simple changes you can make to your site to increase online sales. I didn’t know Bnonn, author of Attention Thievery, but I’ve trusted James’s unassuming nature and practical advice on increasing freelance (and any business) income for months. I wasn’t able to attend the webinar live, but I asked James for a link to the recording and received one from the man himself within fifteen minutes. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been impressed by his response time, and I don’t know how he does it.
As I listened to Bnonn’s friendly, savvy delivery of each point (his accent kept bouncing between British and Australian to me, but I was way off: he’s a South African living in New Zealand), I kept switching screens to my own website and noting the things I could do myself right that moment–or any moment. Some things I started doing immediately, and in all there were five changes I think you can also make immediately. So I changed up the title a bit and here they are.
Images. “If your images are not supporting your copy, then they’re distracting your reader from your copy,” says Bnonn. Make people want to find out what’s going on when they see the image. And the only way to do that is to read what you wrote. So make the connection clear. Also, try to place them to the right side of the screen so they don’t push the margin uncomfortably over (insert high-speed video of me frenetically shifting photos on blog posts).
Navigation. Please don’t make people guess what’s behind the door marked “Campfire” and what’s behind the door marked “Matchbook” on your indie film site. They won’t. They will run screaming (I have). Use conventional nomenclature like “Home,” “About,” “Products,” etc. for the main pages. You can get cute on the “extra” pages where people go to really get to know you.
Headlines. Most people have far more confidence in the effectiveness of their content than that of their headlines. Introduce elements of specificity, helpfulness, immediacy, newsworthiness, or entertainment. Try tweaking a headline on a page or blog post, adding one of these attention-getting elements, and share it. See what happens.
Call to action. I ranted about the lack of calls to action on websites last week, and Laura Click wrote the answer to the question I begged this week. A few tips Bnonn added: remember that people don’t come to your site wanting to buy, so gradualize your call to action. Try asking them to learn more about your offer, with specific benefits. Incidentally, large orange “Click Here” buttons test best. I thought, I’m good, mine are red, right next to orange–“red tests badly.” Ohhhhh… They’re silver now.
Footer. You know how you scroll down to the bottom of a site when you can’t seem to find the customer service page or address at the top? I thought it was just me, but apparently not. Put your entire navigation and contact information in your footer. It gives people confidence in your existence as a “real” establishment. Formatting all the links in this theme just didn’t go well for me so I took out everything but my contact info. I’ll be trying it again soon.
Bonus: On the typography front, Bnonn confirms my triumphant post that sans-serif is not “more readable” than serif font, contrary to popular belief. So go nuts. But not with Courier, he says, because it looks uneven since the letters are all the same width.
You can sign up to have the link to the hour-long webinar delivered to your email here. Although there are ten categories, each gets a fair share of attention, and there are some great questions and answers at the end.
Thanks to James Clear for hosting the webinar and giving me the permission to sum it up here, and thanks to D. Bnonn Tennant for making these tips easily applicable to all kinds of businesses with websites. Follow James and Bnonn on Twitter.
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Excellent post, Shakirah. I'd recommend pamelaiwilson & her Big Brand System website for design issues, too. Pamela knows her shit, and has a real knack for communicating clear, simple, easy-to-implement recommendations on design issues (colors, fonts, etc.).
Great post as usual! I have yet to finalize the conversion items on my blog, since I do not have anything to sell yet, lol! But I'm collecting information like this so that when the time comes, I'm armed and ready. :) It's amazing all of the little details that go into doing so, but the outcome is so worth it!
krissybrady It definitely will be worth it, Krissy. If I'd implemented a few of these things when I got started I might a bit further along converting than I am myself!
The footer comment is gold: i know from my scan of other online businesses that i start to wonder when i cant find where the site is actually based non-virtually. I don't know if it would have occurred to me to put my business address and contact details in the footer, so im glad i read the advice here - its the little things hey!
mgboydcom Little things, indeed! Glad you found that tip about the footer useful--so did I, and as soon as I get a moment I'll be adding info here, too. Thanks for the visit and comment.
These are great tips Shakirah. I am going to bookmark for when I have time to work on the design elements of the site. However, I am going to start paying attention to bettering my images immediately. Good stuff!
Now maybe I will go back to my website that I've not visited in, oh, three months or longer, to see what it says? Shameful.
Shonali I was happy to get these for myself, but you and many other more established webmasters would probably be even better at implementing than I, so I felt honor-bound to share!
ShakirahDawud You think I'm an established webmaster? Oh, my dear. I have done a very good job of pulling the wool over your eyes!
Shakira, I'm so glad you found the webinar helpful! Thank you kindly for your very positive comments.
bnonn Pleased to make your acquaintance, Bnonn. These truly were gems, and I look forward to more.
Thanks for the shout out, Shakirah! I appreciate it.
These are GREAT tips. Folks would do well to listen up to these. I especially think the navigation point is super important. I tell people that your website should be like leading people down a path. You need to give them the breadcrumbs so they no exactly where they should go. That means, make your navigation points easy to understand and follow best practices. If you mix things up too much, people don't know where to look to find information. Yes, you can still be innovative without being overly cute with your navigation. Make it easy for people or they'll just leave your site!
Oh, and one more thing - don't give people too many options. When you do that, readers tend to get overwhelmed and do nothing at all. Try to make your calls to action bold and think about what action you want them to take on EACH page.
lauraclick Laura, thanks for adding that extra tip! People do like being told "where to go from here" if they so please, but too many signs at the fork in the road and people just turn back around and head back where they came from.
I seem to be dragging you around wherever I go for the past couple days, lol. You got yet another link to that post on my post at the WM Freelance Writers Connection today (which I think you saw): http://wmfreelancewritersconnection.com/2011/07/top-10-freelancing-fears-and-how-to-resolve-them. Thank you!
Great tips, especially about the footer. The footer of your site is super-important to optimize, but it's overlooked a lot. It's also a great place for a newsletter sign-up form. Thanks for writing :)