We can all agree that engagement is the key to a successful website. An engaged user is more likely to revisit a website, and more likely to purchase from an e-commerce site. But consistent engagement is a perpetual challenge.


Firstly, engagement is continually changing and evolving. This is because users are human - fickle and easily distracted! Secondly, the demographics of your target audience are potentially wide and varied. So it can be hard to combine the right techniques that appeal to the majority of people.

First Impressions
They matter. Perhaps even more so for a website than in any other commercial medium. The appearance, layout and loading speed of your site need to attract your user within the first 2-4 seconds of page opening, otherwise the majority will simply drift away. Often you don’t even have that long. So, how do you make a good first impression with website design?
Attention
Visual web design is what grabs a user’s attention in this crucial window upon opening the site. In fact, a first impression is based a massive 94% on visual design. Content and journey come later - first you need to appeal and entice. This means colours, layout and image density. Google’s own studies have suggested that low visual complexity and high typicality are perceived as appealing concepts. This means that to get the widest appeal, your pages should keep things fairly simple. Don’t mistake simple for basic, though. Clever web design should appear visually simple to grab initial attention, but then include more complex features to further engage the user.
Clarity
Perhaps a better term for simplicity would be clarity. Don’t fill your pages with lots of text and images. It’ll just look like the website equivalent of a jumble sale. Optimise your landing pages so that they load as quickly as possible, especially on mobile devices. Clear visual design actually makes many users score the usability of a site higher, even if the usability isn’t actually that great. Pop up ads are generally a turn off for users, as they interrupt the clarity of the page. Lack of visual clutter also helps you to guide your users to the sections of the site that they need to get to.

Storytelling
Once you’ve got through the first few seconds and retained your user with a good first impression, you need to retain their engagement. This is most creatively achieved through storytelling. We don’t mean a full narrative here, though. Your design should be engineered to evoke the same emotions in a user as hearing a story. So they want to progress through the site, and learn more about your organisation.
Content
Visual and text content can convey many layers of a story. Choose authentic, sensory images. Relatable images or videos with associated text based content are the most shareable. Animations are a great way to retain attention, especially when they have an accent of humour or wit. Instructional videos, when appropriate to your product, are really appealing and most users now expect them to be included in a good site.
Social Media
Extend the user’s engagement to your social media to carry on the story indefinitely on their news feeds. Build your social media following as an endorsement to your service. For this reason it’s important to maintain a cohesive strategy between your site and your social media. You can do this by embedding your posts and adding social share buttons to your content. At this point, your content really does matter so take the time to plan and create quality items.

Calls To Action
The location and text on your call to action buttons matters. These are subtle parts of your web design, but can have very real implications on how you funnel users through your website. CTA text should be welcoming without being vague, and buttons should be always visible without being intrusive.
Live Chat
It’s important to know when live chat options are helpful and when they may detract from the clarity of a site. Service and product based organisations often need to be able to answer questions or provide a basic quote. This immediate service means that users are less likely to put your site on the back burner to enquire later.
Comments and feedback
Endorsements increase the appeal of a product or service. So your website should be designed to encourage comments and reviews on product and blog pages. Make it easy for your customers to interact with you in this way, and be responsive when they do. You could offer incentives to encourage your users to engage more with you, by offering freebies or customer status levels.

User Experience
The user’s journey through your website comes down to more than just a quick load speed. Although we know how important this is, there are further elements to user experience that will bring them back again and again.
Design Flow
To create an immersive experience for your users, you have to know what information is most important to them. Have a clear hierarchy to emphasise important content. You can then offer related content or products to retain attention for longer. Place links to the side so that it’s easy to access related content. Similarly you must make it easy to navigate back home to avoid your user getting lost. As single page websites become more popular, with creative scrolling options, this is even more important. So keep a visible route to the top of each section. Avoid dead ends to keep the journey going, even after a checkout!
Understand Users
Your web design must have your customer demographic at heart. There’s no point in having appeal to a swathe of people who will never buy from you. So use surveys and polls to understand the priorities of your key users. Put some focus on post-sale care here, this way you can ensure that the feedback is from your actual customers. Keep it simple and quick.

Essentially, your web design should present a sheen of simplicity at first sight. This clarity isn’t challenging to users, and makes them comfortable. Then, the location of links and journey that you guide your users on should offer subtle opportunities to move deeper into your website with engaging content. Lastly, empower the user to have their say. These methods all work towards creating an ongoing relationship. At Planetwide City we have the expertise help you to build these positive relationships, just get in touch to make a start.

Categories
Websites