Effective web design requires strategic thought, planning, and execution. It’s easy to get sidetracked by visually engaging graphic design, and/or attractive photography. Although design and imagery are critical components, when you focus solely on aesthetics it's easy to lose track of the goals of your website. Every business has different objectives; however driving leads is likely a key goal for any business.

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During the website design phase, graphic designers and marketers often look at the site as a single unit. The truth is that some pages are more important than others. Although every site is different, and goals and objectives vary between business types, the following web pages deserve close attention.

Naturally this page is king. Good homepage design can be the difference between a bounce, a visit, and a conversion. Following are a few essential elements of good homepage design.

1.     The first goal of your homepage should be to communicate effectively. Headlines and copy should speak directly to your brand positioning, and key messages. And essential products or services should be highlighted.  

2.     Images, fonts, colors, and design elements, such as infographics, and overall graphic design style, should reflect your brand personality.

3.     Navigation of the homepage should be smooth. This means that critical information should be readily available, scrolls should not be too long, sections should be clearly marked, and the viewer should be able to return to previous web pages with ease.

4.     For web design focused on lead generation calls to action are critical to conversion. Since most viewers don’t get past the homepage, placing calls to action in various positions on the homepage will encourage viewers to take action. Incentives, or at least smart copywriting, will increase your chance that these calls to action are used.

5.     Keep critical information above the fold. Bounces occur when visitors don’t immediately see what they’re looking for. They often won’t go searching for it.

About Us
Every element of your marketing plan should be working towards communicating your key brand elements. These include brand positioning, personality, and guiding principles. And the work should speak directly to the needs of your target. The About Us page on your website is an excellent place for your company to communicate brand elements to your specific target. Here’s how:

1.     Showcase your brand personality with purpose driven bios. For example, if your brand is casual and fun your bio can be written with humor, and be more personal. Bios also help to instill confidence by describing experience and knowledge on certain relevant topics and industries.

2.     Make a connection by using the description of your business to speak directly to the needs of your target audience. Describe the reasons that you’ve decided to sell your products or services. For example, you saw a need in the marketplace, and/or a way that a product or service could be improved upon. And tell your story in a sincere and compelling manner.

3.     Describe your values. The About Us section of your website is a good place for this. Values help humanize your organization and let people know that you are about more than just a bottom line.

4.     Include photography that supports all of the above. This means pictures of your key team members, and images that reflect your personality and values.

Contact Us
So you’ve got the visitor to your Contact Us page. Nice. Now how do we not screw it up? It all comes down to barriers, and striking the right balance between too much information, and not enough.

1.     Professional, relevant, attractive imagery can help soften the transactional nature of a contact us page, and remind the visitor that you are a trustworthy, legitimate professional organization that is not planning to sell your information to a Russian hacker. Don’t include too much here though. One or two images is appropriate.

2.     Contact forms should include large fields of entry to make it simple to enter information. The form should have a space for all critical information that you are seeking including name, email address, and message field. Adding a space for a phone number can turn a visitor off. If you must include this, make it optional.

3.     The Contact Us page is not just for email. Visitors may also want to call you, and probably want to know where you’re from. Include a highly visible phone number, and the business address, and for relevant businesses the email addresses and phone numbers for key personnel.

In a world of online reviews, people have come to trust and rely on others for product and service recommendations. When designing your website be sure to include a handful of positive testimonials from previous customers. They provide legitimacy, add a personal touch, and tell people how great you are, without you having to say it yourself.

Blog and/or Articles or White Papers
This one is all about SEO. As you may know Google changed their algorithms a few years ago. Since then they assign a higher rankings to websites with more written content. So in the digital marketing world where content is king, articles, white papers and blogs, are the kings of SEO. Following are a few best practices for effective SEO writing.

1.     A list of Keywords should be established before writing any blog, article or white paper. This way you’ll have them handy when it comes time to write. Develop your keyword list by considering how your essential products or services will be searched for on Google. Use Google Adwords keyword finder tool to help develop your list.

2.     Placement of keywords within the copy is important. Google assigns more value to the headline and first paragraph of your blog, article, or white paper because this is considered a descriptive portion.

3.     Don’t over repeat keywords. This will often work against you, as Google will catch on and not count them. One keyword per paragraph is often enough.

Once your website is designed it can be hard to find the time and budget to go back in and make changes. Planning ahead before your next web design project will help ensure that your site communicates effectively, and gives you the best change of converting. Paying close attention to these essential pages will help you get there.