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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Design a Visually Compelling Website

Last week, FEI marketing guru Marka went over how to create an accessible, user-friendly website. This week, the tribe discusses how to design an attractive website that drives business. Remember, fire = print.

The FEI tribe had gathered in the conference room for another O-site design meeting. Marka stood in front of the whiteboard.

“Zoot, what would happen if you went on a sales call wearing the ratty, stained, 10-year-old toga you usually reserve for weekends watching O-golf on TV?” she asked

“At the very least, I wouldn’t get the business,” Zoot said. “Most likely, I wouldn’t even make it past the lobby.”

“Right,” Marka agreed. “But why should your outfit matter? Aren’t you the same salesperson regardless of what you wear?”

“Of course,” Zoot said, “but the fact is, we all judge people in part based on their appearance.”

“This is true of O-sites, too,” Marka pointed out. “Visually appealing O-sites create positive brand impressions for our customers, which leads to more sales. Whiteboard time.”

Marka scribbled her first tip on the whiteboard:

O-site design tip #1 - Strike the right balance between text and graphics.

“Graphics and videos grab user attention,” Marka began. “Text gives users the information they need. Effective O-pages will contain both categories of elements.

“There’s no golden rule for how much text we should include on an O-page. We should use as many words as it takes to describe why our product or service is important to the reader. The images should be  large and prominent, but not distractingly so. Text-heavy pages intimidate readers, so even using an O-Clipart image is arguably better than nothing.”

“Moving on!” Marka said as she began writing again.

O-site design tip #2 - Use text as a design element.

“Fonts. Formatting. Colors. Text design elements such as these can determine whether someone reads our O-site or loses patience and closes the browser,” Marka declared. “Here are some tips for using text to create more readable, eye-catching O-pages.”

Marka scribbled like mad on the whiteboard:

Fonts – Use a readable font and font size. Sans serifs are usually recommended for text and headers. Screen resolution is not as high as print resolution. As a result, simpler sans-serif fonts are usually easier to read on O-puter monitors, while serifs may blur together. Use legible fonts and the same font families throughout your O-site.

Layout and formatting – Long paragraphs bore readers. Deliver your O-page’s information in a concise, easy-to-skim format. A good rule-of-thumb is to make sentences five lines at most—not five sentences. Break up long paragraphs with bolded or italicized headers, photos or bullet points. Include graphs or charts when appropriate.

Text design – Make words bold, color and italics in moderation. Also avoid underlining text because readers will think it’s a link.

“With all this emphasis on text, let’s not forget to...” Marka scribbled some more:

O-site Design Tip #3 - Focus on what’s important.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, the ultimate goal of our O-site is to drive business,” Marka said. “We can’t let pretty pictures distract from this focus. Every page of our O-site should feature design elements that help sell our fire products and services. These include:
  • Logos and other branding elements,
  • Big, distinct call-to-action buttons or links,
  • Product photos,
  • Images and photos that connote FEI’s key brand attributes, and
  • Video testimonials.

“Persuasive presentation, Marka,” Zoot said. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a ratty old toga to toss out.”

FIRE! Point
Pay close attention to how your website looks. Strike the right balance between text and graphics, and use text as a design element to create a visually appealing site that readers will love. But don’t forget that the point of your website is to drive new business, and most of your design elements should be focused on getting users to click “buy.”

FIRE! in Action: Erchonia Improves Design, Increases Site Traffic
The company, which specializes in laser health care applications, redesigned its site and also optimized it for search engines. The result was an eventual 300 percent overall increase in site traffic.

Next week: Tips on creating excellent content for your website.

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