Scratching Your Head Over Low Traffic? Get Back to the Basics of Design With a New Outlook

If you use Google analytics or some other analytics tool, and your traffic is not meeting your goals, you may indeed be scratching your head. Or maybe you are getting traffic with huge bounce rates early in the visit.

What are you missing? Here is a checklist of sorts that you may want to use to make sure you have all of your “bases” covered. And splattered in among these checklist items, there are some tools that might help you bridge those “missing links.”

Responsive Design

Responsive Design

You already know that RWD (Responsive Web Design) is not optional. If your site doesn’t load seamlessly and rapidly on all devices, and if the initial landing experience is not good, you have probably lost a visitor for good. Luckily a single front end set of code is all you need, but testing and re-testing after even a miniscule change has to be done. And don’t forget smart TV’s either – you don’t want any experience compromised on any device.

More people are accessing the web via mobile than via PC’s. Because of this Google has recently expanded mobile-friendly design in its rankings – just one more reason to make sure that mobile versions of your site are really good.

Google also now has a “Mobile-Friendly Test” app. All you do is type in your website address and it is analyzed for free. If you are using WordPress, there are themes that are pre-built for responsive design – saving you any work at all as your design or re-design.

Consider Mobile first Strategy: Instead of designing down from a PC screen, you can actually now use DudaMobile to create your mobile version free – in minutes.

It’s basic: users need to have the same high quality and speed no matter what device is used to access your website.

Speed

If you site does not load in 3-4 seconds, you know you lose traffic. Low load time also impacts how search engines interpret queries, so the consequences ca be quite severe. Here’s 5 things to make sure you are doing to get the speed you need:

  1. Reduce your URL redirects: Each one requires HTTP cycles, and this increases wait time for a visitor. The solution is to get the designs right without having to redirect URL’s unless absolutely necessary.
  2. File Compression: Uncompressed files are really large and obviously increase page load time. The best solution? Enable file compression via your server.
  3. Reduce What You Put Above the Fold: Make the files smaller with less script and imagery.
  4. Image Optimization: Un-optimized images = slower loading time. Crop them and reduce depth of color as much as possible to still maintain a pleasing quality.
  5. Watch Your Scripts: JavaScript and CSS slow down load time – it just takes browsers so long to interpret them. If you do need to use scripts quite a bit, use asynchoronous ones.
Navigation

If anyone landing on your site can’t figure where to go immediately, that visitor bounces. No matter how much great marketing you have done to get visitors to your site, you will lose them with poorly designed or slow navigation – every time. This is a double negative for you. First, you have lost a visitor, maybe permanently. Second, search engines do track bounce rates and here’s how that is interpreted. If the bounce rate is high, the search engine interprets your site as not being a good match for the keyword search terms.

If you have any questions or concerns about navigational issues, here is a solid article to assess that and get it fixed. Here is a great example of a navigation feature from The New York Moon’s “radio feed” – it’s very clear, ease to understand, and the UX is fun. And the design itself is perfectly suited for an American radio website.

Navigation of Moon Radio

How’s Your Reputation?

No customer wants to come to a site that is possibly not trustworthy. While design cannot do anything about that before a potential customer lands, once that landing occurs, immediately there should be some elements that put him/her at ease. As a designer, here is what you need to do:

  1. Make certain that the company story is told, with photos of owner and team.
  2. Include logos, certificates, and licenses on the home and as many landing pages as possible.
  3. Make sure you advertise security of checkout.
  4. Provide a phone number and a physical address, unless the business operates out of the owner’s home, of course. This adds a level of trust. Companies like Grasshopper provide “800” number for a nominal monthly fee.

A couple of other thoughts. A banner with a running tally of satisfied customers with a button to click to read some reviews might help; content must be updated regularly – otherwise, visitors get suspicious. Badly written content is also a major cause of bounces.

Positive Attention From Spiders

Positive Attention From Spiders

Obviously, you want an organic search to put you on that first page – it means you have accumulated the “brownie points” for all those important things – rich content in your blogs that is getting shared; great UX; low bounce rates; keywords in your metatags, speed – all those things that spiders will report. Sort of like a spy giving you a report card. You need to really understand how bots and spiders work and use that information to your advantage. Then, make sure that your website design works with those little critters.

Social Media Sharing

It’s also obvious that one way to get traffic is to have current visitors share stuff. Ever blog post, every engaging piece of media, every discount, every free offer, must have buttons for sharing. And think about how you design those buttons – there are some pretty cool designs you can create to catch attention. You can use Simple sharing buttons to get social media buttons free, or create custom one by yourself.

Social Media Sharing Button Generator

Collaboration with the Content Marketing Team

The entire point of content marketing is to drive traffic to the website where conversions can happen. Part of a traffic problem does lie squarely on their shoulders too. You can have a stellar website design, but if no one knows you are there, nothing good happens. So, as the marketing group develops new strategies to drive traffic to the site, it then becomes your responsibility to ensure that they have a good UX, all of the things discussed above, but some additional design elements that will keep them there, navigating around, being engaged, participating, and taking advantage of all that is offered. How do you maintain that engagement beyond speed, navigation ease, and aesthetically pleasing pages? Here are some things that may help:

  1. Have things for a visitor to “do.”

    Participation is a big draw and it will ultimately result in conversions. One relatively new design element is the interactive infographic. While interactive design used to be pretty tough and take days sometimes, new tools have taken all of the complexities out of the effort. Check out Snapapp, Wheeldo, infogr.am, Contenttools, and Ioninteractive for interactive infographics, videos, surveys, quizzes, etc. Here are a couple of interactive designs that are pretty engaging:

    Michael Phelps: For a site that focuses on Olympic sports and statistics, the information can be provided in text with a few photos. Or it can be provided in a totally engaging way. Here is an infographic of his 2004 Olympic stats. There are button for the user to click to open up the information in several categories. This will be worth a share from all who see it.

    Stats and lifetime achievements of Michael Phelps
    Stats and lifetime achievements of Michael Phelps via this infographic.

    The American Heart Association wanted a new and creative way to get out information about heart attack risk. Instead of the normal boring text, this infographic was created as an interactive quiz. No one can resist it and the number of social shares has been phenomenal. You have probably run into quizzes on Facebook and have taken them. If you have, you know they can be compelling.

    Healthy Heart Quizzes
    Healthy Heart Quizzes by heart.org.

    Putting interactive activities right on the site, not just in the blog or on social media, along with the options to share everywhere, just increases the opportunities for brand spreading.

  2. Gate Valuable Stuff

    Some stuff on the site may be quite valuable to visitors – special sale, discount, “how to” guide, and so on. If they must provide an email address in order to gain access to a webinar, e-guide, podcast or a discount, the marketing team will have a method to grow an email list. Also, consider designing a pop-up that is automatic when a visitor is moving up to the far right or far left to bounce. Bounce Exchange is a good site to use to design one.

Cookies and Tracking Tags

Adding these will really give you a good idea of the pages visited, length of time on each page, what items of your product line visitors viewed for a long time and what they put into their shopping carts before they abandoned them. Google Tag Manager is easy and requires so little time to add tags. This information can then be shared with the marketing team so that it can focus specific targeted advertising based upon the aggregate data.

Install a Search Box

What people love about sites like Amazon is that they can type in a search term or phrase related to what they are looking for. Nothing is more frustrating to a visitor than to have to keep clicking on links or searching through pages to find what s/he wants. Install a search feature – convenient and one way to gain visitor appreciation. You can use DuckDuckGo to do this free.

Use Color Based Upon Neuroscience

Our brains do respond differently to different colors. Certain emotions are stimulated as we settle our eyes on colors. Use the information below as you make decisions about what colors to use where on the site. While this may not be the difference between a lengthy stay and a bounce or between bouncing before converting in some way, it cannot hurt. Here is a chart that will help you make those color decisions.

What type of colors are good for different sites?
Anatomy Of A Perfect Landing Page infographic by kissmetrics.com

CTA Buttons

There is also some good research now about CTA buttons – regarding placement, size, shape, and text that is either on the button itself or immediately surrounding the button. For example, buttons should have rounded edges, not straight, because rounded edges draw the readers’ eyes inward to the text on the button. CTA’s should also provide plenty of value or benefit to the visitor who clicks them, and, other than providing an email address, there should be nothing else required of the visitor except to get the promised benefit. Here is an example of a well-designed CTA on the CrazyEgg site:

CTA on the CrazyEgg

The CTA button has great text – not just “click here.” It reinforces what the visitor is getting – a free heat map. And note that to decline, the visitor is saying that he really doesn’t care about the analytics he could be getting.

Finally, Getting an Independent Analysis of Your Site

Sometimes it may be beneficial to have your entire site analyzed by a third-party expert. There is probably no one better at this than Neil Patel, founder of Kissmetrics, CrazyEgg and the blog Quick Sprout. In fact, you can get an initial analysis free at Quick Sprout, and get an objective summary with suggestions that might just improve that traffic.

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