Different Emails Deserve Different Designs

There seems to be a tendency with many companies these days to settle on one email design and use it for every email that they send out.

The reasoning makes sense. If you find a template that works for you, why not use it as much as possible? It’s easier for your design team to only do the job once. It’s easier for your email team not to seek design and coding resources every time you want to send out a new email.

But marketers must weigh the convenience that this approach offers with the very real impact it can have on your goals and objectives.

Every email that we send out has a purpose. If it didn’t, we should not send it. The purpose of your monthly newsletter might be to keep people engaged, and add value for your customers. The purpose of your prospecting emails might be to generate quality leads for your sales team to follow up with. The purpose of your promotional emails is likely to generate direct sales.

Because the purpose of each of these emails is different, it stands to reason that the design you use should be different.

Here is a link to a nice promotional email from The Athletic. In it, they are offering a 50% discount on their basic subscription plan. The email works because it is simple, calling attention to the offer with bold text and a button that stands out. They don’t need to clutter it up with a bunch of content or imagery. It gets straight to the point.

Now compare that with this email from Apple News. This is a more traditional newsletter, offering a curated list of articles that a subscriber might find interesting.  This email is laid out nicely, offering readers the chance to scroll through and click on any of the articles they want to read more of.

Both email are good, though they look nothing alike. And that’s because they were designed to do different things.

When designing your emails, don’t reach for the same template you have been using forever. Instead, start by identifying the purpose of the email. What is your goal?

Then take that to the design team and have them help you create something that achieves that goal for you.

Design for Idiots

Website design is not easy. And that fact in itself presents an opportunity. Because you can choose to be better than your competition. And many companies today are finally prioritizing user experience. And design is a major part of experience.

There are many different theories on what makes “good design”. But let me propose one to you that is simple, and in my experience, quite effective.

Design for Idiots

In other words, use the design of your website to guide someone through its use.

Assume that the person landing on your site has no idea who you are, what you do, or how they should interact with your website. Now, this does not make them an idiot, of course. But we are using that term as a stand-in for anyone who does not have the same domain expertise or brand familiarity as you do.

How to Design for Idiots:

1. Keep it simple

The quickest way to design something that fails the effectiveness test is to make it overly complicated. New designers like to show off their design skills and often over-design a page or a site. They add a bunch of graphical elements, and moving parts, using fancy fonts and lots of color.

It might feel to them like good design, because they used a lot of different things that they had learned in design school. But good design is not the sum of all techniques, it is identifying the one or two techniques that will have the most impact. Quality, not quantity.

One or two fonts. One or two colors. A prominent hero image. That is often all you need.

2. Avoid clutter

This may fall under the bucket above, but I believe it deserves its own call out. And that is because clutter kills good design.

White space is your friend. And that’s coming from a marketer (not a designer) who used to try to fill every square inch of white space with copy and buttons.

You know it already. The simplest websites to use are the ones that are clean. They only use color and imagery to assist the visitor, not because they can.

Marie Kondo asks us to declutter our homes by taking each possession and asking whether or not it sparks joy. If they answer is no, she says, throw it out. Apply that same critical thinking to your website. For each element, does it improve the user experience? If the answer is no, it needs to be removed.

3. Easy access to help

For many designers, navigation may not feel immediately like a design element. But of course it helps a visitor find what she is looking for. So navigation is a critical design feature.

An easy-to-use navigation is a tool that your visitors can use to accomplish their goal. And when they get interrupted, or can’t figure out what to do next, we want to give them options.

A phone number (which will be answered), a live chat option, FAQs, a contact form – these are all things you can include so that your visitors don’t feel lost and ignored. Because if they do, you will lose them.

4. Mobile first

Good design accounts for the fact that most of your visitors are likely coming to your website from a mobile device. Browsing behavior is different for mobile users vs desktop users. And any time you design a page, you have to consider first what the mobile experience will be like.

If anything, this only reinforces the items above. The site needs to be simple and easy to navigate. Clickable items must be large enough to fit a thumb. Font needs to be large enough that mobile visitors don’t need to squint or pinch the screen. Try to avoid drop downs or other elements that don’t translate will to mobile devices.

5. Clear calls to action

Your calls to action are not just buttons for people to click on. They are like the road signs for your website. They tell people where to go, and what to expect.

Actionable items are critical elements of any design. But one of the biggest mistakes we often make is trying to be clever or subtle with them. We hide buttons within images or use language that does not clearly state what they will be used for.

If you want someone to use your website without confusion, clearly identifiable calls to action are a must-have.

Top Web Design Blog Posts

Online marketing starts with your website. And so web design is a crucial part of marketing. While marketers should not be expected to be designers, they need to know enough about what makes design effective in order to set their companies up for success.

We went back over all of our web design blog posts for the past few years and grabbed the ten highest read titles. Here they are:

  1. Mobile First Web Design
  2. 3 Tips for Better Readability
  3. How to Use Design to Guide the Eyes
  4. Top 5 Website Usability Fixes
  5. Three Easy Ways to Improve Your Homepage
  6. Powerful Web Design Tips to Transform Your Website into a Conversion Driven Success
  7. Testing Form Fields
  8. 3 Ways to Improve Your Buttons
  9. Limit Your Navigation Options
  10. Designer vs. Marketer

Powerful Web Design Tips to Transform Your Website Into A Conversion Driven Success (Guest Post)

James Robertson is a passionate digital marketing expert who has worked alongside many great companies. He currently writes for CoFlex Marketing and is passionate about helping his clients succeed. In his spare time, he enjoys going to the gym and working out.

Your website, while being your asset in the digital sphere, also forms an essential part of your business strategy. In short, it helps build your brand equity, communicate with your target audience and drives sales.

As a result, driving traffic to your website is an important focus of your marketing efforts. However, traffic alone will not help your business thrive. Sales, the very lifeblood of your organisation, makes the difference between success and failure. And ‘conversion’ is what transforms visitors into revenue. Conversion can mean visitors entering their email address to download an e-book or book a trial of your product, make an enquiry about your offering or buy what you sell. It goes without saying, you must give ‘conversion’ its due importance when you design your website.

4 powerful web design tips to transform your website into a conversion-drive success:

1.       Pay attention to your landing page

When a visitor arrives at your website (via social media, Google search or simply keying in your URL)

  • What does he see first?
  • What is his first impression?
  • Does he know what step to take next?

An effective landing page helps answer these questions. This web page is possibly the most important aspect of your conversions strategy, as it helps the visitor to take the next logical step in the ‘decision to purchase’. Some key factors to consider on your landing page are:

  • Have one single Call to Action that directs the visitor to the next step, rather than confuse him with various messages
  • Go for a full-screen landing page, as it helps hide all the other content of your website which can distract
  • Divide the landing page into 9 squares and place your key message and visual along the center squares (center and left)
  • Clean, crisp copy - Forget about clever wordplay and ensure the copy clearly states the key benefit you offer for the visitor if he chooses to take the next step. Also, the copy must clearly tell him what to do. Never underestimate the power of phrases such as “Buy Now”, “Click Here”. Although they seem simple, they have been tried and tested, and have been proven to work. The world’s best websites have mastered the art of clean copy to drive conversions.
  • Aesthetics - Use an ‘easy on the eye’ color scheme and branding on the landing page. Also, visuals of human faces have been known to help improve conversions.

2.       Don’t give too many options

This may sound counter-intuitive, but think of websites such as Google and Apple. They don’t serve up a plethora of options. They offer limited options on the website, so as not to confuse the visitor with ‘information overload’. When a visitor lands on your site, they think:

  • What do I do next?
  • Where should I click?
  • Should I read all this information or can I skim through?
  • Why are there so many options?
  • How can I finish what I came here for?

With all these questions running through the visitor’s mind, it is your job to make his life easier by gently taking him through with limited options. Unless you’re Amazon or eBay, it’s best to keep one objective for each web page and tailor your content accordingly.

3.       Speed is king

On the road, ‘speed thrills, but kills’. When it comes to your website, speed is of utmost importance. If your website takes ages to load, your audience is going to grow impatient, and within seconds, will switch to another website, often your competitor’s. Studies have shown that website loading speed is directly correlated to conversions. Use the following tips to ensure your website loads fast:

  • Refrain from using extremely heavy content
  • Optimize images based on size and format
  • The number of elements you have on your website result in an equal number of HTTP requests, thus affecting download speed. Lesser the better! This means, less plugins too!
  • Aim for a server response time of less than 200 milliseconds.

The above aspects are of a technical nature. If you are not a competent website developer, don’t cut corners. Hire the best help you can afford to get the job done right.

4.       Write good copy

You wouldn’t believe the number of businesses that overlook the importance of good copy! Don’t fall prey to the notion that users don’t read. Yes, they do skim through, but good, clear engaging copy makes them pay attention. And, take action! From the moment a user lands on your website, your copy must get to work to connect with him. Keep these tips in mind when crafting copy to improve conversions:

  • Use clear headlines that outline the key benefit of your product/service
  • The headline should also tell the user what the page is about
  • Use words such as “YOU” to speak to the user
  • Use a clear Call to Action to tell the user what to do next
  • Don’t write long paragraphs of copy. Keep it scannable by breaking your copy into paragraphs of 4-5 lines maximum. Each paragraph should have one underlying goal or message. It is also a good practice to have sub headings which will help users scan through your copy and gauge what you are trying to say.

Conclusion

We’ve only scratched the surface of web design to transform your website into a conversion driven success. The above 4 tips are a good place to start. Do drop us a line and let us know how they worked for you

How to Design for Usability

Designers are designers for a reason. And most talented web designers became designers because they like good designs.

But when it comes to web design, there is a major disconnect at times between what makes a good design.

What wins awards might not produce results. And what works from a look and feel standpoint, might not work when it gets down to actual performance.

Designers already hate this post.

It’s the age old battle between marketers and designers about how the website should look. And it’s a battle that’s still raging in companies near and far.

And so today, I make one recommendation, design for usability and make everyone happy. Marketers will be happy because you’re designing a site with performance in mind. Designers will be happy because they can simplify, use colors to highlight and guide a user, and get real feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

But I can’t take full credit for this idea. It’s the driving philosophy behind the book, Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.

So how do you do it? First, get the book. Then start thinking about what makes a good design good.

What impression are you giving new visitors? How easy is it for them to find what they’re looking for? And how can your design help them?