Can you trust website design best practices?

My Post131.jpgYou have to test every proposed change to your website to see what actually works for your business and your audience. Without good testing, your website is just a collection of guesses.

If you want advice on how to design your website, you don’t have to look very far. There are countless articles out there with “best practices” and even more case studies where someone made a specific change to their website and produced incredible results.

The assumption is that if it works for someone else, it should work for you, too.

While there’s nothing wrong with trying these recommendations, not every business will get the same results from the same tactics. In some cases, a tweak that changes someone else’s website for the better could actually hurt your site’s performance.

To avoid this sort of problem, you can’t just change your site on blind faith. You have to test every proposed change and see what works for your business, your audience and your site. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at a few tests we’ve run at Disruptive Advertising that yielded counter-intuitive results.

1. To stick or not to stick?

Most web designers encourage the use of sticky nav bars. Their logic isn’t bad, either. Your navigation bar makes it easy for people to get around your site, so if the nav bar is always easily accessible, people won’t get frustrated.

As a bonus, you can use your navigation bar to guide people towards the most important pages on your site, so they should be more likely to convert with a sticky nav bar, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.

One major site we work with wanted to add a sticky navigation bar in the hopes of increasing their conversion rate. But when we tested adding the bar to the site, it cut their lead volume by two-thirds!

As we eventually discovered, this client’s customers placed a high priority on screen spaceespecially on mobile. The nav bar reduced screen space, so it actually caused frustration rather than reducing it.

2. Is your value proposition worthless?

When it comes to web design, conventional wisdom states that you should make your value proposition immediately obvious — above the fold, if possible. After all, you don’t want people to come to your site and then leave because they don’t know what makes your business special.

That sounds good in theory, but “conventional wisdom” doesn’t necessarily mean “universally applicable wisdom.”

For example, during another test on the site in the previous section, the client wanted to place various relevant awards that they had received near the top of the page. These awards were proof that the company was dependable and skilled – which was a key part of the client’s value proposition – so everyone thought that putting the awards front and center would increase conversions.

However, just like the sticky nav bar, this logical tweak actually dropped the client’s conversion rate. It wasn’t a small drop, either. Including the awards reduced form submissions by almost 20 percent. – Read More

How to help today’s impatient customers on every step of the purchase journey

My Post112.jpgWhen it comes to spending time, everyone wants to spend it wisely.

More than ever, people are applying that mantra to how they shop as they look for more ways to get what they want immediately.

We’re seeing this as mobile searches for “open” + “now” + “near me” have grown by over 200% in the last two years (for example, “stores open near me right now” and “pharmacy open near me right now”). But “right now” isn’t just about a purchase. It applies to finding information right before the sale and customer service afterward.

This consumer impatience across the entire purchase journey (whatever shape it might take) provides marketers with new opportunities. But the reality is some brands aren’t always keeping up.

While over 60% of people expect brands to “provide consumers with information they need when they need it,” less than half of them feel that brands are delivering.

Marketers can close this gap between consumer expectations and reality. Brands and businesses that are ready to help in the moment will build trust, be appreciated, and earn the sale.

Find out what people want

The first step is recognizing the kind of assistance people are seeking and when. While it may not be a crystal ball, search data can shed light on how consumers expect brands to assist them before, during, and after a purchase.

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  • Product availability. “Can I/to buy” + “near me” mobile searches have grown over 6X in the last two years. For example: “where can i buy stamps near me,” “places to buy scrubs near me,” and “where to buy vinyl records near me.”
  • Status updates. Over the past two years, mobile searches for “track” + “package” have grown by over 120%. For example: “track my package” and “track a package.”
  • Instant customer service. “24/7” + “customer service” mobile searches have grown over 400% in the last two years. For example: “at&t customer service phone number 24/7,” “playstation customer service 24/7,” “usaa customer service 24/7,” and “wells fargo customer service number 24/7.”

This sort of data allows marketers to anticipate when and where they can be most helpful to people.

You might not be able to offer assistance for every single person’s request. After all, there’s not much you can do if weather or logistics interrupts shipping. But you can be there with an explanation. – Read more

How to improve your website’s indexation

My Post14.jpgGoogle’s vast database contains information from over 130 trillion individual pages and, when a user types something into the search engine, a search algorithm parses through this enormous wealth of knowledge to deliver results it thinks are relevant to that particular search.

This database is referred to as an ‘index’. You want your website and its pages to be included in this index, simply because, once they are, you can start jostling for the top spot in the all-important search results. This will help you establish yourself in your particular sector, attract traffic and, hopefully, convert visitors into customers.

Crawling vs indexing
Google indexes your site through a method called ‘crawling’ – this is where bots or spiders trawl through the pages on your website and rank them in the index depending on how useful, relevant and valuable they are to search engine users. These spiders are always searching for new, updated content, but, if your site has lots of new pages, they could take time to find, meaning there is a delay in terms of how visible you are in the search results. You need to ensure your site is indexed as soon as possible – according to Neil Patel, only 5.7% of new pages make it on to the first page of the SERPs within a year of publication.

Is my website already indexed?
Unless your website is very new, it’s likely that it will be indexed. However, there’s still probably plenty of room for improvement. In this blog, we’ll take you a number of ways in which you can improve your website’s indexation.

4 indexation best practices
1. Install Google Analytics & Search Console
You may already have these tools installed, but if not, it’s vital that you add them to your repertoire. If you don’t, you’re effectively blind to how Google indexes your site. Google Analytics records visits to your website and gives you insight into visitor habits, such as how long they spend on your site and which pages they tend to look at. Google Search Console, which was previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, lets you see when your website was last crawled. It also alerts you to any issues with indexing, or security problems. For help with getting these set up, you can consult LunaMetrics’ helpful guide.

2. Create and submit a sitemap
Create a sitemap using a free plugin such as Google XML Sitemaps and submit it to Google Search Console to tell the search engine how often it should crawl your site. Now that you’ve created a sitemap, you’ll need to submit it to Search Console. After you’ve done this, you can also use the Index Coverage Status report in Search Console to find out which pages have been indexed and how you can fix those that haven’t.

3. Be proactive
There are a number of SEO best practices you can use to get Google to index your site faster. These include on-site improvements, such as creating links pointing to your new pages and regularly blogging, as well as off-site improvements: earning inbound links and sharing on social media. You can find out about more indexation best practices here, or consult SEO professionals.

4. Mobile-first indexing
Mobile-first indexing has been rolled out by Google this year and reflects the increasing likelihood that visitors will be using their smartphone – rather than their desktop – to access your site. ‘Mobile-first’ refers to Google considering the mobile version as the primary version of your site. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, the desktop experience can still be included in the index, but it’s likely that you’ll fall behind competitors who do cater for those using mobiles.
Although it’s still in its early stages, ‘mobile-first’ represents a shift in the way Google treats your site. If your site is responsive anyway, it’s likely that you won’t have to change anything for now, but you should ensure that visitors’ mobile experience is optimised, with quick page load times and easy navigation. There should also be consistency between the mobile and desktop versions of your site.

Common mistakes that lead to no-index
If some of your pages aren’t being indexed by Google, there’ll usually be a reason for it. Here are a few common mistakes that can lead to no index: – Read more

Website redesign mistakes that destroy SEO

My Post7.jpgTo keep up with user preferences, you have to redesign your website now and then. Learn how to avoid the most common pitfalls when you do.

Redesigning a website, whether it’s your own or a client’s, is an essential part of marketing today. It’s essential because technology, trends, and the expectations of users change over time, and if we want to remain competitive, we must keep pace with these changes.

But this task, while essential, also presents certain risks from an SEO perspective. A number of things can go wrong during the process. These issues can potentially cause search engines to no longer view that website as the authoritative answer to relevant queries. In some cases, certain mistakes can even result in penalties.

No one wants that.

So in this article, we’re going to explore some of the common web design mistakes that can destroy SEO. Knowing the potential risks may help you avoid making the kind of mistakes that tank your organic search traffic.

Leaving the development environment crawlable / indexable

People handle development environments in a lot of different ways. Most simply set up a subfolder under their domain. Some may create a domain strictly for development. Then there are those who take the kind of precautions to hide their development environment that would give a CIA agent a warm fuzzy feeling in that empty spot where their heart should be.

I tend to fall into the latter category.

Search engines are generally going to follow links and index the content they find along the way — sometimes even when you explicitly tell them not to. That creates problems because they could index two versions of the same website, potentially causing issues with both content and links.

Because of that, I place as many roadblocks as possible in the way of search engines trying to access my development environment. – Read more

25 Amazing Contact Us Pages That Will Make You Rethink Your Website

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The Contact Us page is one of the most visited pages on any website.

That seems like a compelling enough reason to redesign your Contacts section to better meet your users’ needs and grab their attention.

While working on this post, I came across hundreds of beautifully made websites, yet their Contact Us pages were, for the most part, disappointing.

Most Contact pages are made for show, with just an email address, phone, location, and some short boring text on a plain background.

Such run-of-the-mill pages won’t inspire your visitors to leave a message or call the company.

However, I managed to find some Contact Us pages that almost made me forget about writing the article, as I became engaged in exploring the rest of the website.

Let’s get some inspiration from the following 25 amazing Contact Us pages and try to figure out what exactly makes them so special.

The Power of Words
First of all, you do not need to hire a team of designers to come up with a colorful and original design for just for one webpage.

Creativity means thinking outside the box.

Sometimes the right words on a simple background can be more engaging for users than bright colors and fancy pictures.

Here are five examples of webpages that stand out using only a few well-chosen words and a simple design.

1. Make It Interactive
Focus Lab came up with the most brilliant solution for an interactive Contact Us page.

All the visitor has to do is type in a couple of words and select a budget amount (optional).

And voila, the message is ready.

A backup plan is also in place. Visitors can scroll down to view the location, email address, social media links, and phone number. – Read more

20 Conversion Optimization Tips for Zooming Past Your Competition

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Conversion optimization (CRO) is one of the most impactful things you can do as a marketer.

I mean, bringing traffic to a website is important (because without traffic you’re designing for an audience of crickets). But without a cursory understanding of conversion optimization—including research, data-driven hypotheses, a/b tests, and analytical capabilities—you risk making decisions for your website traffic using only gut feel.

CRO can give your marketing team ideas for what you can be doing better to convert visitors into leads or customers, and it can help you discover which experiences are truly optimal, using A/B tests.

However, as with many marketing disciplines, conversion optimization is constantly misunderstood. It’s definitely not about testing button colors, and it’s not about proving to your colleagues that you’re right.

I’ve learned a lot about how to do CRO properly over the years, and below I’ve compiled 20 conversion optimization tips to help you do it well, too.

Conversion Optimization Tip 1:
Learn how to run an A/B test properly
Running an A/B test (an online controlled experiment) is one of the core practices of conversion optimization.

Testing two or more variations of a given page to see which performs best can seem easy due to the increased simplification of testing software. However, it’s still a methodology that uses statistical inference to make a decision as to which variant is best delivered to your audience. And there are a lot of fine distinctions that can throw things off.

What is A/B Testing?
There are many nuances we could get into here—Bayesian vs. frequentist statistics, one-tailed vs. two-tailed tests, etc.—but to make things simple, here are a few testing rules that should help you breeze past most common testing mistakes:

  • Always determine a sample size in advance and wait until your experiment is over before looking at “statistical significance.” You can use one of several online sample size calculators to get yours figured out.
  • Run your experiment for a few full business cycles (usually weekly cycles). A normal experiment may run for three or four weeks before you call your result.
  • Choose an overall evaluation criterion (or north star metric) that you’ll use to determine the success of an experiment. We’ll get into this more in Tip 4.
  • Before running the experiment, clearly write your hypothesis (here’s a good article on writing a true hypothesis) and how you plan to follow up on the experiment, whether it wins or loses.
  • Make sure your data tracking is implemented correctly so you’ll be able to pull the right numbers after the experiment ends.
  • Avoid interaction effects if you’re running multiple concurrent experiments.
  • QA your test setup and watch the early numbers for any wonky technical mistakes.

I like to put all of the above fine details in an experiment document with a unique ID so that it can be reviewed later—and so the process can be improved upon with time. – Read more

How to Write a Privacy Policy for Your Small Business

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As a small business owner with a website, you might ask: Do I really need a privacy policy statement for my website?

If you’re starting, managing, or growing any type of business online today, the answer is likely “yes, yes you do.”

Jump on it!

While small business ownership is overwhelming with the constant juggle of multiple tasks at once, it’s easy to forget about or completely overlook creating a privacy policy for your lead generation website. Yet with the deluge of new data privacy regulation and subsequent lawsuits, negligence with privacy policy laws is simply a no-no.

Here are some pointers for how small businesses can comply with standards and laws to create a simple privacy policy. This article will answer what this document actually contains, why you need one, and what should be included in a privacy policy for your small business.

Read on if… you want to learn about privacy policies in plain English, without all the headache-inducing legalese. Remember, we’re not lawyers—we’re just here to give you some guidance.

What is a Privacy Policy for a Website?

A privacy policy is a legal statement that discloses the way a business gathers, uses, discloses, and manages a customer’s data. It also informs users about whether that information is kept confidential, shared with partners, or sold to other businesses.

It fulfills a legal requirement to protect a customers’ privacy, especially in light of recent GDPR legislation, which affects businesses that collect information from any resident residing in the EU. (Here is more info on GDPR.) – Read more

Has Your Website Refresh Been Successful?

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Like maintenance work on your car, a refresh of your organization’s website is one of those tasks that seems to roll around every few years and entail far higher costs than anticipated. However, also like car maintenance, a website refresh is often critically necessary. Your organization’s branding or messaging may have changed, or maybe your site just looks like something that was built on GeoCities in 1995. Whatever the reason, you’ll want to ensure that you’re measuring the results of a website refresh in order to adequately justify the costs.

The most basic, and most powerful, question we can ask is “is our site better?” The problem of course is that that’s an incredibly vague question. What do we mean by “better?” Typically, we’re looking at KPIs like page views, number of sessions, bounce rate, time on page, exit rate, conversion rate, etc. The sort of numbers you can get from any basic web analytics tool like Google Analytics. I typically regard these numbers as “surface-level metrics;” they provide a good starting point but don’t say much about whether visitors are deriving value from your website.

To illustrate, page views and the number of unique sessions help you understand site traffic. However, they don’t say anything about how “good” your site is, just how many eyeballs you’re getting and perhaps how well you’re doing in terms of SEO. Bounce rate, time on page and exit rate go a little deeper. These metrics can point to the quality of content on your site or, more directly, to whether the content on your website adequately meets the expectations of visitors. For example, if visitors to “bike.com” are expecting to find information about motorcycles but discover content focused on bicycles, they are likely to leave disappointed, and in a hurry. Unfortunately, depending on how engagement is defined in Google Analytics, metrics like bounce rate can result in both ​false positives and false negatives​, leading marketers to draw the wrong conclusions.

Ultimately, one of the best KPIs to consider is conversion rate: the percentage of visitors that complete the action we want them to. This could refer to signing up for a demo, downloading a trial, joining a mailing list, etc. To quote ​WordStream​, “a high conversion rate is indicative of successful marketing and web design: it means people want what you’re offering, and they’re easily able to get it!” More than anything else, conversion rate is the KPI that marketers look at when assessing website performance. – Read more

Finding a Balance Between SEO and Amazing Website Design

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When putting together your client’s website, there are two major things you have to consider: consumers and search engines.

You need an SEO-friendly website that’s optimized for search engines so that you show up in Google when consumers are searching for your products. This is the first challenge, especially since even back in 2016, Google told Search Engine Land that they “processed at least 2 trillion searches per year.”

You also need a creative, user-friendly designed website so consumers can easily find what they want to buy. The conflict for site owners, especially sites that have hundreds of products available, becomes finding a balance between being user-friendly and SEO friendly. You have the development team fighting to keep the visual and user aspect of the site very simplistic. On the other hand, you want the site to have enough content on it so Google can rank the site effectively for user search queries.

To further complicate things, businesses often have two separate teams for SEO and web development. Even if both teams are in-house, having them work together to build a beautifully successful ecommerce website becomes challenging.

Conflict often arises with the design of a website and how to make it SEO-friendly, especially when you’re bringing in two different teams and expecting them to understand the complexities of each other’s work.

So how do you find the balance when you have conflicting suggestions coming from the SEO team and the web development team?

In this article, we’ll look at different website elements to consider, and some ways you can find some common ground between these two goals.

You may also like: Canonical URLs: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

Website navigation
Web developers are typically focused on the site’s overall look, feel, and user experience. Designers and developers will care about a page’s visual elements and how consumers interact with those elements. They often like to keep things as simple as possible, especially since consumers using mobile devices have long surpassed consumers using desktop or laptop devices.

On the other hand, SEO marketers will say you need to focus your navigation efforts on optimizing for search engines.

A basic example of this can be found on teacollection.com: – Read more

25 Creative & Engaging Examples of About Us Pages

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Your About Us page is vital.

It’s often the first stop in any user’s journey through a website or blog.

It also shouldn’t be their last, because first impressions count online just as much as they do in the real world.

If your visitors aren’t impressed, you can expect them to leave without reading your awesome content or completing a conversion action (e.g., signing up for your newsletter, making a purchase).

What Makes a Solid ‘About Us’ Page?
Your About Us page should be:

  • Informative. It doesn’t always have to tell the whole story, but it should at least provide people with an idea of who and what you are.
  • Contain social proof, testimonials, and some personal information that viewers can relate to such as education, family, etc.
  • Useful and engaging.
  • Easy to navigate and accessible on any device.

That may all sound complicated, but it really isn’t.

The main purpose of your About Us page is to give visitors a glimpse into the identity of either a person or business.

As users discover your brand, they need to distinguish what sets you apart and makes you… you.

This often requires finding the right balance between compelling content and a design carefully planned to look the part.

Conveying your identity in a fun and approachable – but also reliable and informative – way is challenging.

If you know who you are and your goal for your site, the About Us page should come naturally.

However, if you’re looking for some inspiration, you can always check out these 25 examples of creative and engaging About Us pages.

These excellent examples will help you build a personal and engaging website journey. – Read more