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Why Your "Pretty" Website May be

Costing You Clients

These sites are not always the best solution for converting your visitors to clients.

Guest Post by: Jodi Neufeld

“Pretty” websites - you know, those ones that catch your eye. They have all the beautiful big photos, gorgeous graphics and maybe even animations. We might look at them with a bit of website envy and secretly start planning out a new design for our own sites.  Just wait though - these sites are not always the best solution for converting your visitors to clients.


What do I mean by a “pretty” website?  Well, specifically I am referring to websites that are designed for looks only and not for useability. These sites are typically very image driven and sparse on text. It is possible to have a pretty website that is effective, but sometimes the website design focus is on being pretty without much thought of creating  a functional, effective website. 


I have seen a number of sites lately that are designed to look gorgeous on first impression, but on closer inspection provide a frustrating experience for their website visitors. Let’s dive into some examples of “pretty” pages that do little to convert visitors to clients:


“Pretty” Example 1: Single Screen Landing page design


Single screen landing pages (also known as Splash pages or Cover pages) show their content on a monitor screen, typically without having to do  any scrolling. These landing pages are a beautiful way to display a full screen image with a minimal amount of information on the page.


I have observed many websites using a splash page as a Home page for their website. These splash pages usually display a heading or two  with some body text and buttons. In the example below, we see a cover page that has a background image, a heading and two buttons - one to sign up for a newsletter and one to go to the blog.


So why is this landing  page design not effective? There are a number of reasons:


1. Cover pages are not good for Search Engine Optimization

For Google to show relevant results to web surfers, it reads the text on your web page to check for relevant keywords. On cover pages, there is usually very little text for Google to read. Since the home page of a website is heavily weighted for Google Results, the odds of your site being shown in the search results will be greatly reduced with a cover page design. There is simply not enough information to provide to Google.


2.Over pages force your visitor to make a selection in order to see more information.

In our example above, our visitors will have to decide whether they should go to the blog or sign up for a newsletter.  This is not something we want to force our visitors to do because any time you force a user to take action to see your content, you risk the chance that they will decide to leave the site instead. Maybe they don’t know what they want to see and they were only slightly curious. This might be enough to click off of your site.. 

“Pretty” example 2: A regular web page without any calls to action or proper messaging


Proper Messaging

I have been observing some gorgeous home pages lately that show off some beautiful imagery, but have absolutely no calls to action and do not communicate what the site is about.


Without the proper messaging, your visitors may land on your home page and think “What is this site even about? “. If they are not convinced you can help them with something they will likely leave, so you need to tell them what you can do to help them! Make it very clear at the top of the page what you do, who you do it for and how you can help.


No Calls to Action

In this website example, we see a site with beautiful images. It looks pretty, but does not effectively communicate what the site is about. The page ends off with an instagram feed which will in fact take visitors off of your site. This is not our goal. Don’t get me wrong, it is fine to include your instagram feed on your website, but that should not be the only links on your Home page. 

Example of a landing page with no calls

So what can we do to ensure our website does more to convert our visitors to clients? Our goals should include the following:

1. A clear mission statement 

Your website visitors will decide in a matter of seconds whether they are interested in staying on your website and reading more. To make it clear that they are in the right place, you will want a statement that is prominently displayed  when your reader first lands on your page - preferably “above the fold” (the area that appears on the screen before the reader scrolls). 


This mission statement should be a brief statement about  what you do, who you do it for and how it will make their lives better after working with you.


“A good one-liner has three parts. It starts with the problem or pain point someone experiences. Then, it describes a product. And it ends with a resolution that someone would experience because they’re using that product.” 

-- Donald Miller, Story Brand


Donald Miller has amazing resources for helping you to come up with a clear and concise mission statement


2. A clear call to action on each page

Before you plan out your website, evaluate what it is that you want your visitors to do. Focus on your primary goals and then include very noticeable Calls to Actions on your web pages. These are typically buttons that have an action statement on them such as “Sign up for the newsletter” or “Explore my Portfolio” or “Contact Me”. Don’t leave your calls to action to chance. Make them obvious.  


Make sure that you don’t have any pages that are “dead ends”. These pages end  without any sort of call to action. You take the risk your visitor will leave your site if you don’t tell them where to go. You have to be very obvious about the action you want them to take next. Don’t leave it to chance.

3. Just the right amount of content

When there are a lot of images, graphics, text and or colours on a page it can be distracting and overwhelming to your visitor. They are not sure where to look or what to do next. 


The amount of text you have should be enough to communicate in a clear way your services without using excess words. Break up your text with the use of headings, short paragraphs, bullet points and images. Most people will skim content and this makes it easy for them to identify the important points.


Having too little content poses its own issues as well. It may leave your visitor unsure of what you do or how you can help them. 


Design your pages to be clear, concise and persuasive and make it easy for them to take the necessary step to start working with you.

In conclusion, your website should be designed thoughtfully with your business goals in mind, with a focus on keeping your visitors on your site and guiding them through it. That’s not to say that it can’t be pretty, but the pretty should be the “icing on the cake” and not the only focus of the design.


Jodi Neufeld is a creator of pretty, and high converting websites over at Jodi Neufeld Design working with creatives and small businesses to create Squarespace websites that reflect their goals and personality and bring in their dream clients. When she is not behind the computer you can find her playing tennis, gardening or watching HGTV and sipping rooibos tea.

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