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How do I make my website engaging?

How do I make my website engaging?

Your business’s website is, in the majority of cases, the most important aspect of its entire online presence.

If your business has a physical location that customers and clients visit to purchase or engage with your services, you’ll try and optimise this location to encourage people to do just that. Similarly if your business has a sales team that reaches out directly to potential clients to sell your services, you’ll likely have a refined method of doing this, using the most successful sales techniques that work to bring in new business.

In the online world, your website functions as BOTH your digital storefront and your number one salesperson. When an internet user enters your website, they are essentially entering your business and being sold to, all while simply sitting in front of their computer screen. Even better, unlike your physical storefront and your sales team, your website is open for business 24/7. I hope you’re starting to see why it’s so important to make it as engaging as possible.

In this blog, we’re taking an extended look at some of the key elements of web design that will help you make your website engaging to any potential clients or customers who happen to find it.

Why does my website need to be engaging?

A dull and hard-to-navigate website, much like an uninspiring sales team and a poorly laid out store, is unlikely to bring you much business.

Many different approaches to digital marketing focus on the goal of bringing new visitors to your website. However, bringing people to your site is by no means the same as bringing in new business. A successful SEO (search engine optimisation) or PPC (pay-per-click) campaign, for example, may bring thousands of new users to your business’s website. However, if your website is not engaging, there’s no guarantee that you will turn ANY of these visitors into paying customers.

Imagine you run a restaurant, and you decide to promote your restaurant to everyone in the local area with special offers and the best deals. You will succeed in bringing people to the building. However, if your restaurant looks horrible, the menu is terrible and there’s a funny smell lingering around, there’s a good chance people aren’t going to order your food, even though you’ve attracted them in. It’s the same with your website.

If you want to ensure your new website has everything it needs to attract your ideal target audience, check out the below points to understand their significance.

Layout

It should go without saying that your website needs to be well laid out in order to be engaging. There are many ways in which this can be done.

These days, the internet is full of templated websites that, after a while, can begin to feel very unoriginal. You don’t want your visitors to feel like they’ve seen your layout before, as they’ll most likely forget your website the moment they click off it.

One way to make the website stand out and feel engaging is to mix up the layout a bit, rejecting the popular templated layouts seen all around the internet. In traditional web design, elements all occupy their place on the website surrounded by white space. We’ve come a long way, and nowadays, broken grids, overlapping images and layering content are all possible.

These also all contribute to making the website stand out.

If you decide to opt for an original layout using traditional web design, it’s crucial to maintain a logical hierarchy, particularly on your home page, which displays the important information at suitable locations throughout the page. A clear and consistent menu is also necessary, helping to create a generally more accessible and easy-to-navigate website.

Animation

Animation has been used to engage people as entertainment since the early 1900s, and has developed greatly since then. In terms of web design, animated GIFs were the first form of animation seen on websites – these are now widely used in social media! The GIF format was invented in 1987 by Steve Wilhite, but they did not become animated until 1995. Shortly after this period, technology moved on, with animation becoming a more integral part of websites.

Crucially, animation is proven to work for learning. When an A/B test was done by a popular learning website, it found that memory retention of information improved by 92% when animation was used instead of a person talking. In terms of branding, animation can bring more attention to a brand and potentially keep it in people’s minds for longer, even if it’s simply taking the logo and adding some movement to it (like on our own Engage Web website). Animation has the ability to make a potentially boring message or design element more light-hearted and entertaining. When combined with illustration, animation can make a business look more approachable, particularly if they exist in a more sensitive line of work.

Different ways animation can be used in a website like yours include:

– Loading elements as you scroll down a page. Simple fading or sliding in, for instance, can keep the user engaged if they are scrolling down a large page.

– Making it interactive in other ways based on the user interaction can also keep them on the page. For example, the website we designed for our client Influxeo features this, where scrolling back up brings the image of the client back out of the water (you have to see it for yourself).

– You can also have animations that just play on a loop, like the website we designed for Dee Clearances. This one is designed to give the impression of your local friendly clearance bloke, making an industry associated with literal rubbish come across as more approachable.

Images

The use of images on your website is highly important in making your website feel as engaging as possible.

However, you must use the right images. Visitors to your website will easily be able to tell stock images from your real ones. Stock images often feel staged and fake, which is certainly not how you would want to portray yourself.

If you can afford it, it would be a great idea to hire a photographer to take photos of yourself, your team and your office or workspace. Use images to show events YOU participated in, and show YOU doing the work. While this may sound like a trivial detail, this will genuinely create a more personal connection than using stock imagery.

You won’t need to use custom images for absolutely everything. Want an image on the Contact Us page that shows a person on the phone? It is most likely fine to use a stock photo to get this message across.

On the topic of images, it’s another good idea to find images that naturally fit into your brand’s colour scheme. This can be hard to tell if you’re not a web designer, although you can use tools like Coolors’ Image Picker to check the colour palette of an image. Choosing an image that fits in with your brand helps make it look natural and intentional on the page.

Videos

Like images, videos are a great way of showing the personal side of your business, and can do even more when highlighting your business, your team and the work you do.

Images are great, and go a long way in establishing your brand identity on your website. However, incorporating moving elements and videos takes your website to the next level. While there are some requirements for privacy, such as ensuring you don’t just embed a YouTube video (as it can lead to unnecessary cookies being downloaded to your visitor’s computer), it’s pretty common to see short videos on almost any websites. With a well-performing website and faster internet speeds, these download quickly, and can be incorporated into any website.

We would probably advise you not to go overboard when it comes to the use of videos on your website. While they can be really beneficial in moderation, too many videos risk your website appearing too ‘busy’, which may distract users from the real goal of your online platform.

Website speed

The very best websites don’t just look amazing – they perform amazingly too. To ensure your site continues to be engaging to anyone who enters it, make sure it loads quickly, and its elements function smoothly. Nobody likes a website that loads slowly, and this will often lead to high bounce rates and people leaving your site.

Be sure to optimise your images and code so that they load quickly. Remember to cache your website’s files so they can be accessed quickly, contributing to a faster site. Regularly update and maintain your website so that its performance stays at the high levels it should be at. This can be done by conducting regular performance testing through tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights.

Many of these elements of web development are best handled by a team of professional web designers. A reliable web design company will ensure your site’s performance is optimised to the fullest extent.

Content

Naturally, it’s not always just the appearance of your website that matters; it’s the words on it, too.

Your use of language and text in general are a useful way of reinforcing the image of your brand that you are intending to achieve throughout your website. Furthermore, the use of language on your website can be a valuable tool of influencing users to engage with your services.

One way of achieving this is through calls to action. A call to action (CTA) encourages people to engage with your business; this can be by clicking a button on the website, encouraging them to call your office or any another action.

An engaging CTA is one that is strategically placed to maximise the number of users likely to see it. Using action-oriented language such as “Get Started Today” or “Claim Your Free Trial” is likely to be more effective than a button simply reading “Submit”. Personalised CTAs can also be more effective in engaging visitors. For example, if a visitor is returning to your site after abandoning a shopping cart, you could use a CTA like “Complete Your Purchase Now”. Finding a way to personalise the content on your website as much as possible is, in general, a good way to make your site more engaging, as users will feel as though you are speaking to them directly.

It’s also a good idea to have your CTAs stand out from the rest of your site’s content, perhaps through the use of a different colour, as this visual distinctiveness will help to draw more attention to them.

Contact forms

When you build a website, in most cases, there is a single goal or action in mind where you want your visitor to end up at. This is usually the contact form or some other form for signing up to a service.

Don’t neglect how these forms look and behave. You want them to stand out from the rest of the site and only contain fields that are necessary. Don’t ask for details you don’t need, as any additional field will increase the likelihood of the visitor just hitting the back button and never returning to your site.

Choose a reliable web design company

As our name suggests, engaging web design is our speciality here at Engage Web. Our expert team of web developers specialise in helping businesses just like yours get a website that converts visitors to buy your products and invest in your services. Then, you can more confidently invest in an SEO or PPC campaign that will drive more traffic to your website, as you’ll have a site already set up to convert.

We’ll find out exactly what you need from your site, before building it bespoke to your requirements. Our websites are fast, excellently designed and built to bring new customers and clients right to your doorstep. Reach out to our team of web design professionals today, and find out how we can help you.

Luke Meredith

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