A data nerd’s perspective on Website Design

Recently I was working on a CRM data verification project which involved visiting close to two thousand websites over the period of a few days and it absolutely blew my mind. Not the scope and scale of the project itself, but what I learned about the value of good web design.

You had one job!
When it comes to designing your website, all of the fabulous plug ins, branding, corporate videos, advertising and search engine optimisation in the world are utterly wasted efforts if you have not considered the basic function of your website, which is to allow your customers to find out information about your company.
Whilst it is important to consider the journey of your customer to your site (via a tweet, a blog you shared on Facebook or LinkedIn, by Googling your business name – measuring the source of the visit empowers you to tailor your marketing activity accordingly) it is equally important to remember why they are there.

Are they there to find out what you do? Where you are? Are they there to find your contact information so they can call you with an enquiry? Look at your own website, are you meeting these basic requirements? Out of 1800 websites that I visited in order to check what the business did, find the postcode and phone number and their links to social media accounts only 22% of the websites allowed me to find this information easily. Seriously, 22%. That’s mind boggling.

We scrumpleswish your flibberts to provide value added burbleglumpfts and deliver visionglitter
So many of the companies had admittedly beautiful websites, but my experience was made so frustrating as a result of having to trawl through web copy which did not make it clear what the function of the business was. Jargon does not impress your audience, it alienates and frustrates them.

For the benefit of those who have learned from sales and marketing seminars or business books to “sell the benefits, not the features” (or rather to sell the sizzle not the steak…) your customers are not googling “I want to increase my business value proposition via the application of collaborative media integrations” they are googling a product or service in plain terms.

Navigation is key
However you choose to structure your site, it doesn’t matter whether the contact details are at the bottom, top, side of a page or whether they can be found via the menu – as long as they can easily be found. You should also consider the merits of a contact form versus giving your customer the option to call or email you directly.
Want an honest assessment of your website and constructive advice about how to make it more user friendly?
I offer a free hour of consultancy for small businesses so get in touch.

Be the solution, not the problem

“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” Leroy Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party

Last year I wrote an article on LinkedIn called “It’s time to tackle the isms.” It’s an inarguable fact that we live in a world with many problems. So from the state of the environment to the state of society, how can your business make a positive difference?

Consider how you might be contributing to the problem.
Does your business make or sell products that perpetuate a harmful stereotype?
Your instinct may be to say no, but take a closer look. It may not be as obviously problematic as a range of products for him and her branded in pink and blue.

I find my clients are often surprised that the language and imagery that they use on their websites or via social media doesn’t necessarily reflect how liberal and inclusive that they are. If your pictures feature families for examples, are they really reflective of our society which has mixed race couples, same gender couples, couples with age gaps, single parents or adoptive or foster parents?

People buy from people and if your pictures are not representative of your audience, then your promotions will be less effective than those which your audience can identify with. It works the same when you’re recruiting – saying you’re an equal opportunities employer is one thing, but if every picture on your website is of a white, able man in his thirties wearing a suit, then consider how this may subconsciously alienate women, people of colour, older people or those with disabilities.

It may not seem like a big deal (and it may even be due to limited resources on stock image sites rather than your own photography choices) but unless you promote your business using imagery and language that seeks to normalise and celebrate existing differences in gender, age, race, ability, sexuality, belief and socioeconomic status, you are contributing to the drip feed of information that collectively creates harmful climates such as everyday sexism, toxic masculinity and even rape culture.

Make a change.
Whether you discover that you need to stop perpetuating harmful stereotypes, stop advertising in publications which are funding hatred or whether you begin a mission to reduce the waste produced by your business, be the change you want to see in the world. And if you’re really not sure where to start, here’s a gift to you my essential reading list for the intersectional feminist. Or get in touch for a consultation.