Michael Utley: Well, hey there, and welcome to Episode 46 of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast.
Chris Raines: I'm Chris.
Michael Utley: Hey, I'm Michael.
Chris Raines: Why did I do that?
Michael Utley: I think you just point to yourself.
Chris Raines: If you're watching on video. Yeah, just don't just don't watch it on video on YouTube. Actually do watch the video, and subscribe and hit the like button.
Chris Raines: All right, Michael. We're going to do a whole episode here on website usability. Frankly, we could do, like, 13 episodes on this, because it's such a huge topic. [It's] about how users come to your website, how you help them get where they're going. Website usability: I love this topic. So today we're going to give you five ways that you can make your website more usable. I love talking about this. Michael, let's start off with the first one.
Michael Utley: Let's talk about the top nav. So your top nav, we really like a header where logo's on the left, some call-to-action stuff and forms of contact are on the right, and then right in the middle, you've got that main top nav. And then often you need a little bit more structure than just say five or six links. So a dropdown menu is a good thing. And then lately, what we've been doing to make it more visually pleasing, is letting drop downs have some sort of visual component. Now, I would avoid, these days, having three levels in a dropdown. Years ago, that was pretty common. I would say in the early days of people figuring out the navigation of the website, they thought that maybe that navigation was going to include all the pages on the website, and that's really not the case. What the top nav needs to be is give enough real estate and weight to the most important things.
Michael Utley: So, typically, for any kind of services website, or any kind of patient-oriented medical website, if you look at a website like VanguardDermatology.com, you'll see things that are simple and clear, and where it's needed, there'll be dropdown menus. And in this case, this site, I'm looking at Chris's screen here, we have a little arrow pointed down to let you know and give you a little visual clue... Cue, rather, and clue, that there is more under there. And in this site, we don't have a lot of visual elements in that dropdown, but a lot of what people are going to, to create a little bit of a richer experience is, in a dropdown, having maybe an image and text that both reinforce one another for each item in the dropdown.
Michael Utley: And a lot of times, we're doing those now, where the dropdown is kind of a left or right, or vertical, based on whether they're on a desktop or a mobile device. But you don't want to overthink this. If you have more than 20 things or 30 things people can do in the entire top nav with all the dropdowns, that's probably too many. You really want to have... Well, I don't know, that might be actually about right, but you want to have maybe five to six items in your top nav, and maybe three to five items in each dropdown. So yeah, that could top out at 30.
Chris Raines: But you got four stickies here at the very top.
Michael Utley: Yeah. We're cheating in kind of a little super nav above that is like, "Hey, if you absolutely have to come here to go to the same place over and over," to get the medical records or a payment button. . .
Chris Raines: Payment is a big one.
Michael Utley: . . .you can work that in as either a sticky tab set. I would call that a tab set, because of the way it looks visually. But yeah, there are ways to kind of do that and get it out of the top nav. Top nav is really that area where people are hunting, if they're there for the first time, and they're not going to do something that they do for some reason every day.
Chris Raines: Yeah. I like how that's laid out. That's good.
Michael Utley: That's a good top nav, VanguardDermatology.com in New York.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Okay, second, is there enough home page content? There's two or three things I'll say about this. One, do you have a headline that sort of encapsulates what you do and your unique value proposition? So that's kind of like your first level. And then two, in terms of enough homepage content, what you want to do is think of the most common things that people are going to want to go to on your site. So if you're an ecommerce store it's probably going to be categories, if you have a lot of different category pages.
Chris Raines: If you're a local service business, it's probably going to be your services. If you have a lot of services, maybe your top three services, or your top three categories of service, right? So do you have a doorway? If somebody can go to your website and number one, say, "what do you do? What makes you different? What's your unique value proposition?" That's in your hero section. And then two, I would throw in there, is there a way to take the next step? Is there a contact form? Is there a phone number? Is there a way to, people go, "I'm interested? What do I do next?"
Michael Utley: Yeah, and even telling them to do it next.
Chris Raines: Yeah.
Michael Utley: “Call us now.”
Chris Raines: Call to action. And then three is, can you go to your homepage and get an overview of everything that you do, all the ways that you can help them? So for most that's either categories of product, or categories of service, or individual services, if you have a small number of services.
Chris Raines: And then thirdly, I would say from a keyword perspective, the main keywords that are associated with your overall business, not your services, but your overall business, are those present on your homepage? If you've checked all those boxes, sometimes it's not necessary to include the blogroll, the latest post. Maybe if you're a little more editorial site.
Michael Utley: Or maybe if you have a good strategy for including SEO in that content.
Chris Raines: Maybe, but most of the time you just got to think about where are the people going to want to gravitate most? And it depends on what kind of business you run, right? And then make sure that all of that is present. And if it's present, and you've got your primary call to action, your primary unique selling point call to action, that's a good homepage.
Michael Utley: Yeah. And you can merge categories to sort of editorially clean up. If you have a section that is sort of a call to action, or a benefits-oriented section, you have a separate section that's "About Us" or the history of the company, maybe those could be merged. Maybe sharing a little bit of the history in the set of benefits, sort of like, "Hey, here's where we're coming from, we do these three things really well because we have been in this industry for 28 years." Those are ways to kind of merge those sections and make editorial choices, so that the user when they get there, they're faced with a really simple set of basics. "Does this company do what I need? Is it a credible company? What do I do to use their services?" So if you cover those three things as cleanly and powerfully as you can, but have a substantial enough amount of content to communicate what you need to around those ideas, that's going to be a good homepage.
Chris Raines: That's good. I can get the next one on credibility.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Does the website establish credibility? Let's dive into that a little bit more. One of the things... I came from the world of ecommerce and managing marketing into an ecommerce site that was essentially a $25 million-a-year ecommerce engine. And one of the things that we tested and found was that we could add credibility badges about secure checkout below the buy buttons. And that would help increase the conversion rate of someone on that page actually buying and becoming a customer. That really applies to an entire website. And there's some other ways that it can happen, not just badges. But you can think about where to place these and some areas where I like to see this sort of content is, number one, below or around any sort of thing where you're asking for private information, like name, phone number, email.
Michael Utley: They're giving something, they need to know that there's some trust. At least going to the effort to say, "Hey, you can trust us." "Stripe secure checkout," or "Angie's List Award winner." Whatever that credibility is there around the ask for personal information, typically in a succinct, "badge" type format, or a badge with a statement like "We will not share your information," that can establish a lot of credibility of, "Okay, this is a real thing, they're established, they're connected." Another place that a credibility item. . . Oh, first let's talk about what credibility items are. It can be badges and awards, it could be a SSL certificate.
Chris Raines: I was going to add that one.
Michael Utley: And things that state the security of your website. It could also be testimonials. And if I didn't say it, awards that you've received.
Chris Raines: And I would add too, this is more aesthetic and more qualitative, but overall design aesthetic. Does your website look as though it was designed in the last two to three years?
Michael Utley: Right. Does it look and feel credible?
Chris Raines: Or does it look old and dated and stale? That communicates credibility. If it looks like it was designed in 2005, it's going to lower your credibility with users.
Michael Utley: Yeah. And if you have that kind of fresh design, and you're thinking about the places that you're asking for information, you can create a very comfortable environment for people to share that. Another place is maybe having a block on the homepage that establishes you and shows some of those credentials and is essentially the trophy case for your company. And show those in a succinct way. And more is not always better. I think it's okay to have, what do you think? Like, three to five, at the most. Three to five of the most current.
Chris Raines: Yeah. What I've seen is a lot of people like to show their media mentions or press, or "Used By" companies. So a lot of software companies like to say, "Oh, this is used by Nike," or whatever. Keeping those to three to five. If you do like 10, it almost becomes... It's too cluttery, one, and it's almost not believable. There's something about that five that's enough, and then any more it doesn't make you pay attention or something.
Michael Utley: That's right. Yeah. And another piece is testimonials. I really like really short testimonials, where possible with a picture of a person, just a real human.
Chris Raines: And if they'll let you use their name or first name.
Michael Utley: Even if it's a "Robin J." from Brentwood, Tennessee, the picture is worth a million.
Chris Raines: You've got to get permission.
Michael Utley: But yeah, get permission before you put your customers' information on your website. But yeah, having a few of those is good. You don't need big blocks of text that go into nuanced detail about their satisfaction, but you need quick little hits that show credibility.
Chris Raines: Yeah. That's great.
Michael Utley: So testimonials, badges, awards, and recognition, shown around areas where you're asking for information, and then in basic areas like the homepage. And maybe if you have something that's just a really big deal, also throw that image in the footer and just have it there.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Great. Number four here, making your website more usable. Are there pages for your major services? So one thing about usability, people are going to have the question, when they come to your website (especially local businesses), "What do you do? Can you solve my problem?" Right? And they're going to be looking for what types of services you offer and see if that matches up with their problem. We've done whole episodes on service pages, right? So having those service pages, and then I would also add a layer onto that in having sub-service pages attached to your service pages.
Chris Raines: My company used to be primarily video production. We do more digital advertising now, but I used to create sub-service pages for conference video production. In Nashville, which is where we are, a lot of conferences happen. We have a big conference center, convention center. And so, we would actually get traffic and leads externally from other localities that we're searching for Nashville conference video production. So we built a page that was all about filming your breakout sessions and making sizzle reels for your conference, and a little contact form, I can get a conference video quote. And so all that to say primary service pages, but don't forget about sub-service pages that people are going to find inbound, organically, for things that maybe there's a handful of searches per year on, but when they search for it, you're going to match it exactly.
Michael Utley: Exactly. It's high-value. Small volume, high value.
Chris Raines: There's nothing that's really too niche because there's somebody out there searching for it. And if you sell one thing, it pays for the time it took to make that sub-service page.
Michael Utley: That's right.
Chris Raines: That's what I'll cover on "Are there pages for major services?" in terms of usability.
Michael Utley: Yeah. It's not really adequate to just have a services page and list your services. You really need standalone supporting pages for your website, for SEO, and for the user, for each of your major services.
Michael Utley: Good, next step, and we'll wrap up with this. Do the key pages on your website communicate well? Every page on your website is a stand-alone exchange between you and the audience. They're giving you their time and you've got to give them something that meets their need. They're trying to solve a problem. They're not there because they like looking at websites, typically. They're there because they're trying to solve some problem in their life. And so you have to, number one, just say what you do.
Chris Raines: Don't make them think. We're going to tell you.
Michael Utley: Go ahead and suggest this, yeah.
Chris Raines: Yeah, so all the stuff we're talking about is basically kind of secondhand information from people that are really knowledgeable of this. If you want to read a book, a really great book about web usability, go to Amazon and get "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug. This is the preeminent book on web usability, I think it's required reading for anyone who's building websites or doing advertising, or anything web-related. It'll cover a lot of the stuff that we've talked about. That's my pitch.
Michael Utley: Yeah, totally. So what do you do? How do you like to do it? How does it work? What can someone expect if they make contact with you, either phone or a form, what happens next? What's the process? And then, don't forget that they don't know what you know. You may know that estimates are free. There may be folks out there who are kind of nervous about making contact because they might think that as soon as they're in touch with you, the clock's running and they owe you money. So you need to use words like "Get a free estimate" or "No risk: free proposal."
Chris Raines: Or "Free trial." I see SaaS businesses do this. "Free trial, no credit card required."
Michael Utley: Yeah. "No credit card required" is a big one because they're saying, "I don't want to get my credit card in, it always gets hit if I forget to cancel if I don't have time after I look at this thing." And so "No credit card required" is lowering the threat level with microcopy. Having content on your page and visuals that communicate the most important information. And here's my suggestion, design your webpage, whatever you think it is, and then put it away, and then come back to it and take a big step back. Almost like you don't know what webpages are. Just assume the user is not as knowledgeable. Assume they're one step removed from knowledge about the subject matter than you think they are. It's better to start simple and get them oriented, rather than make assumptions. If you have certain products that you're using, or certain approaches and techniques that you offer that you think are given, assume that it's possible someone would be there who's tasked with collecting information for someone else or getting a rough list of potential companies to provide services.
Michael Utley: And maybe they're more in an administrative role, and they don't know exactly all the details of the choices of products that you can make available to solve their problem. So whatever is your webpage, take a step back and use language that orients people to what you're going to talk about and why. And this doesn't mean more content. This means starting in a way that's a little bit more universal and doesn't assume that they know the inside language and the lingo of your services, and of your category. They may not know the differences between two types of lasers for skin treatment. You have to educate them in that content. So yeah, do your pages communicate well? Or do they fall into the trap of assuming too much?
Chris Raines: Yep. That's good.
Michael Utley: I don't know who opened this one, but thank you, this has been Episode 46 of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. Please check us out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. I'd really love for folks to follow us and subscribe on YouTube to get new clips and episodes and playlists as they come out.
Chris Raines: I think we have a MySpace, right?
Michael Utley: We have a MySpace and...
Chris Raines: A Friendster.
Michael Utley: Soon we'll have. . . Yeah, I don't know. I was going to accidentally out a client of ours that just bought an app that was popular 10 years ago and that is coming back, but we're not ready to share that information.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Does Justin Timberlake still own part of MySpace?
Michael Utley: I bet he's got to, yeah, sure.
Chris Raines: Doesn't he?
Michael Utley: Thanks everybody, we'll see you on the next one.
Chris Raines: Okay.