Michael Almond

Online recommendations are now the single biggest influencer of decisions to purchase, taking over from the once standalone factor of friends’ recommendations.

With every passing second the internet grows in size; bringing with it a whole catalogue of new information and newer, more innovative websites. Standing out from the crowd is becoming more of a challenge than in previous years as a study from Ragan reports that a user now makes a subconscious decision about whether they trust a business website in around 0.2 seconds!

With this in mind, we build our sites for the future.

Last week we received a brief from an American public relations company – Real News PR. They wanted an overhaul on their website in order to bring it up-to-date, but more importantly, they understood the need to have a website that delivers performance so came to use to help them generate more leads and acquire new business.

The website was actually generating a healthy amount of traffic from various sources and their SEO efforts were relatively good. The site just didn’t seem to be converting the traffic into something useful.

Upon analysis, we felt they were missing a few key features so we designed (or rather, are still in the process of designing) a new website for them and thought we’d let you have a sneak peak as well as some insight into how we design for conversions.

Here are five (and a half) areas that we’ve improved upon for Real News PR:

1. Good design and appropriate content

It might seem like an obvious place to start, but dated design or poorly written content are an instant turn off and can make your business look unprofessional.

Real News PR has some great content on their site including a well written and interesting blog. However, the content was difficult to read and at times a little confusing due to the poorly spaced, overly busy layout.

Old Real News PR homepage

For our re-design we kept the layout clean and simple, with clear content areas, an easy to read font and a clear, on brand design.

New Real News PR homepage

2. A bold, colourful, eyecatching “Call to Action”

A call to action is just that: a call for the user to make an action. Whether that action is to sign up for a newsletter, learn more, set up a free trial, get a free product or any other type of website goal. Good calls to action will increase the likelihood of the user making the action.

Real News PR’s existing site had a great unique selling point (USP) (see below) but the message wasn’t standing out and the “learn more” call to action link to the client testimonial video was a little lost amongst everything that was going on in the header.

Old and untidy Real News PR call to action

Our redesign sought to make a feature out of the client’s USP with a strong call to action for the user to “Get their business noticed!” Not many business owners would turn down an offer like that!

New, neat Real News PR call to action

2.5 Highlighting the USP

In the first few seconds of visiting your site, a user needs to be shown what they came to learn. The home page should emphasise what sets your business apart from the competition; whether that be the great location, unique products that you sell, innovation awards, a reputable sale etc.

Real News has a great USP – they’re the only PR company in their area that are staffed by former News professionals giving them a great insight into how to get their clients onto the news.

As mentioned above we really wanted to highlight this unique level of expertise so placed it above the fold and in an eye-catching colour.

3. Easy to find contact details

The web is a mass of knowledge, however the more information that appears there, the more difficult it gets to wade through the rubbish to find the answers you need. More often than not, users just want to ask a question and receive a personal answer. According to TNS, 68% of UK consumers think that companies should make contact details easier to find. So having an easy to find contact area is essential for those users who want to ask the question quickly and receive a notification later on so they can continue with their day.

Like most business websites, this one already had a contact page, but it was hidden on the navigation under “About”. Most worryingly, their contact details couldn’t be found anywhere on the homepage!

Old hidden contact area

On our redesign we added the phone number to the header section and basic contact details in the footer giving the user a double opportunity to get in contact. This technique sees an increase in leads and offers more opportunities for the company to nurture those leads into something useful to them.

New easy to find contact areas

4. Simplifying the contact form

Another pretty obvious one, but the more user friendly a contact form is, the more likely they are to fill it in. Therefore, the more likely you are to generate new leads for your business if your contact forms are cleaner and neater. Expedia famously saw a $12m annual revenue increase by deleting just ONE input field!

In this case, the contact form already had a low amount of input fields but the form was getting a bit lost on the page, there was nothing to draw the user’s eye to it and the dated style looked as though it would have been off putting to users. And the form completion rates echoed that the old form wasn’t inspiring users to fill it in.

Old and ugly contact form

We chose to keep the form simple (even after adding an input field) and updated the styling using an inspiring shade of purple on the “get in touch” call to action to draw the user’s eye. We also added an opt-in form for the company newsletter giving another opportunity for the company to capture potential new leads.

New, bright and clean contact form

5. A trusting client testimonial video

Gaining trust is arguably one of businesses biggest challenges. The best way to gain it quickly would be to publish client testimonials and customer reviews. According to BrightLocal, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Our client already had a fantastic, professionally produced testimonial video from a high profile client; but the styling of the video player let it down and never really showcased the excellent content.

Old Real News PR video styling

We chose to again update the styling but make a feature of their video testimonials on internal pages as after all, a picture paints a thousand words – but sometimes a video is better!

New user friendly video styling

We hope that’s given you a good idea of how we do things here at Tone and maybe even offered you a few pointers to ensure your website is performing as well as it can be by converting those otherwise passive users into something useful; whether that be enquiries, sales or even newsletter signups. Either way, a website that converts make for a stronger business.

Feel free to contact the Tone team for more pointers, or sign up for one of our FREE e-books!

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Michael Almond

Posted By michael

Michael is a Front-end Developer at Tone – responsible for the design and implementation of forward thinking, responsive web designs. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelAlmondo