We live in a noisy and over-saturated world, whether we choose to participate or not.
And some part of us yearns to stand out—to be memorable.
And while we might want to be memorable, for those of us who are shy or introverted, we’d rather have our website stand out for us.
Your website is your 24/7 connection vehicle. With a few simple tweaks, you can take advantage of its tireless ability to support your business and engage with your site reader, even while you are asleep.
Your online presence is like a puzzle
Your website design is one piece amid many that needs to fit into its spot to create the complete puzzle. When a piece is missing, you can hint at, though never really see the full image.
Your website design needs to be the anchor that connects the dots—fits the puzzle pieces together—to hold the big picture for both you and your reader.
- Website content (written, video, audio, images)
- Products and services
- Social media plan
- Ideal persona
- In-person networking plan
- Your life circumstances
You might think you’ve outgrown connect-the-dots. But actually, it’s one of the most important strategies for online entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to build profits with online marketing.—Sonia Simone, Copyblogger
Connecting the puzzle pieces of your website and your life
Including your life circumstance—your assets and constraints—when designing your website is important.
- A static site, known as a brochure site, which is similar to a printed pamphlet.
- A dynamic site, known as a content marketing site with constantly updated information.
Websites (except shopping/ecommerce sites) generally fall into two basic categories.
Many businesses today opt for a dynamic site. This gives the search engines (like Google or Bing) a reason to visit and update the information they have on file about your website. This not only builds your authority, it helps keep your content fresh and available to searchers.
Regularly adding helpful new content gives you, the site owner, an opportunity to connect with your readers in a newsletter or via social media, keeping you top of mind.
And while it is helpful to add new content on a regular basis, it is not always feasible.
For example, you may be in start up mode, head down in development of your product or course. Or a mom of active pre-teens who take most of your time and focus—yet you have a desire to create a side hustle. Or you feel most comfortable working locally in a physical office with clients and do most of your outreach in person.
A static site or adding new content occasionally may be sufficient for your current needs. The thought of creating and adding frequent new content to your website, while it is a nice idea, simply doesn’t match your current reality.
Thus for your site to be sustainable, it is important to choose a website design that fits with your business needs and current lifestyle to accomplish your goals. Once you determine your site needs—it’s time to create your website design.
For many of us, that means starting with a theme or template. Many themes mirror today’s noisy and over-saturated world.
They are too busy.
They contain a ton of bells and whistles—lots of moving objects or too much crammed into a small space. Shiny objects designed to capture your attention.
While glitter might catch your reader’s eye, how long does it hold her attention? How often, once the momentary “wow” factor wears off, does she actually read or buy?
How to help your site stand out and hold your reader’s attention
Quality content is the key to holding your reader’s attention in the long run. Yet unless your site catches your reader’s attention visually, he won’t usually stay long enough to engage with your content.
1: Add white space
Choose a theme that uses a lot of white space. Give your reader space to comfortably settle in and enjoy what’s in front of them—the main content you want her to read or see.
We are so easily distracted.
FOMO, the fear of missing out, is a “thing” in our world. We think that adding everything to our website design gives our visitor more opportunity to find what they are seeking and engage with us.
Perhaps the biggest problem with FOMO is that a relentless preoccupation with activity and novelty makes it impossible for us to be fully present and deeply engaged in our relationships and our life in general. And true fulfillment requires both presence and engagement.—Linda and Charlie Bloom, Psychology Today
In print, white space conveys a feeling of luxury and ease because you are paying for each square inch.
On your website—you can offer that same sense of luxury and ease without a high price barrier. When we are in FOMO, we often aren’t sure how to include white space. Instead, we think we need to show all we have to offer in a moment—in too small a space.
Instead, experiment with using less words. Add more space around your images. Add pull quotes—short excerpts from the text in a bigger font or color that become a graphical element that both invites your visitor to read and creates spaciousness.
2: Choose the right fonts
Choose your words wisely and then happily offer them to your reader in a font size and style that is legible. Yes, that varies from person to person, yet there is an elegance and ease to allowing your written content to take up space on the page. An elegance to choosing a font that is easy to read.
Choose a theme with a line height (the space between one line of text and the next) that is gracious and comfortable to read.
We are all in a hurry, so it may feel counter-intuitive to take up more space—yet how inviting is a dense grey wall of text, even if it is short in length? If the theme you choose uses a tiny font size, hire a developer to change it. It’s a quick and inexpensive tweak that makes a big difference to your reader’s ability to engage with your content and you.
3: Make it mobile
Depending on your target audience, today, most websites are visited from some form of mobile device. We live in an age of miniature.
Across the globe, mobile devices dominate total minutes spent online…—Dave Chaffey, Smart Insights
In Egypt, I was in awe of the Egyptian’s ability to create precision on a massive scale. Multi-ton blocks of solid stone fit together so precisely you could not slip a piece of paper between them. Today, we’ve mastered miniature—down to people visiting your site from an iPod or smartphone or getting updates directly to their Apple watch.
So choose a theme that is already designed to be mobile-friendly. And if you have a website, that’s not optimized for mobile, it might be time to invest in an upgrade to a mobile-friendly site.
And incase you need a bit more of a nudge to know if it is worth the cost and effort, having a mobile-friendly site is a required box you need to check off for SEO (search engine optimization) and Google ranking.
4: Use images
Images help cut through the noise. Yes, they are everywhere—so it is ironic as they both create and cut through the noise. It is important to make your images relevant to your content. Add a text overlay or caption to enhance the relevancy and message.
A reader skims your content. He reads what stands out and is easy to read first. Then he decides if he will dig in deeper and read more. Relevancy of your images, captions and larger quotes allow him to connect and think your article might be worth more of his time.
Once you’ve chosen relevant images, resize them for your website design. Each theme uses a maximum image size—find out what it is for your theme and resize or crop your images to match. Most pictures downloaded from a paid or free stock photo site or taken with your iPhone are too big to simply upload to your website directly.
- Good for Google ranking as faster pages rank better
- Good for sustainability and the environment as it uses less energy
- Good for your potentially impatient site visitor because frustrated is not the ideal state of mind to engage with your brand
Resizing your images will help your site load faster—
It is also an act of generosity to all those who visit your website from a mobile device as optimally sized images hog less data bandwidth.
5: Aim for clarity
Natalie Goldberg (in tricycle, Summer 2016, page 40) writes about why she continues to meditate…”it was so simple, so dumb, so direct, so different from the constant rush of our human life….I was beginning a true relationship with myself.”
A different analogy, perhaps. Yet simple, direct, a step outside the constant rush…and sure, dumb.
Dumb, as defined by Google.com…
Resulting in or expressed by speechlessness or
simplify or reduce the intellectual content of something so as to make it accessible to a larger number of people
When you think about it…isn’t that a goal for your website? To stand out and to make your site accessible to a larger number of people. Dumb is not the same thing as stupid.
Similar to how Goldberg relates to meditation because it is simple and direct, your site visitor needs clarity. A simple and direct path to find what she is seeking. Navigation links that are easy to understand. Your unique voice to begin a relationship. Product or service descriptions that answer her question.
What are your most irritating website pet peeves?
We all have frustrating moments when engaging online. Sometimes our website stands out and is memorable for the “wrong” reason. What are your pet peeves that cause you to abandon a site, even when there is the promise of a helpful solution? Share in the comments below.