What makes the perfect home improvement website design?
The bad news is, there’s no exact science for success – but there are plenty of essential elements that go a long way to making your website an enjoyable user experience that will generate you plenty of leads and sales as a result.
There are also a plethora of home improvement installer website design don’ts that you should probably try your best to avoid, and as a marketer myself, I find myself stumbling across many of these pitfalls on a regular basis.
Please don’t worry if some of the below apply to you; even the biggest, national home improvement and installer companies have fallen victim to these!
1. Making it all about you
Let’s start with probably the most common mistake of all; the thinking that since this is YOUR company website, it needs to be all about your company; the awards you’ve won, your corporate events, your company agenda, your products and services.
The harsh truth is that no-one cares about these things as much as they care about themselves and finding solutions to their own problems – and in my opinion, this is where a lot of companies go wrong.
Your website should actually be all about your customers, and helping find the solutions they need. So, try turning it around and basing your website around THEM and what they want – this is also known as being customer-centric.
TIP: The best customer-centric websites use buyer personas to help craft a design that your ideal customers will love.
Another huge mistake a lot of home improvement installer websites make, is going straight for the sale, without taking the time to be helpful first. So, for instance, only displaying a list of your products and prices might seem sensible, but in reality it’s only helping a small percentage of visitors.2. Forgetting to be helpful
Of course, mentioning the above is important, but you have to bear in mind that a lot of people who first arrive on your website won’t be ready to buy yet – they might not even know if your solution is the right one for them! You have to cater to the needs of these people, too.
And the best way to do that, brings me nicely onto my next point below…
3. Not having a blog
As I said above, your potential customers may still be in the research phase of their decision making process when they arrive on your website, so they’re most likely going to have lots of questions, including:
- “What are the main solutions that can help solve my problem?”
- “Which is the best solution for me?”
- “How long does this solution take?”
- “How much does it typically cost, and which factors can affect price?”
The best place to answer these questions – and more – is your blog. By uploading regular, helpful content, you can help your ideal buyers better understand the options available to them, so they can in turn make a decision faster. It also helps you build trust quicker, so when it comes to buy, they’ll turn to you.
4. Inconsistent design
It’s also important for your website to have a consistent theme, so your users can quickly feel at home and get a feel for what you’re really about as a business. Having too many different fonts and colours that vary vastly between web pages can quickly get confusing and even lead to an off-putting user experience.
Unfortunately, it’s sometimes an easy mistake to make, especially if you want to give your website a quick refresh but still have a couple of pages lurking elsewhere that have been completely forgotten about. A professional web designer should always be able to ensure things stay consistent throughout.
5. Lack of contrast
Probably one of the biggest design flaws that, surprisingly, some websites STILL get wrong, is a lack of contrast between font and background colours. The best case scenario is that you might cause a few users very mild eye strain – the worst case? They give up and leave because they can’t read your content.
Any good designer will be able to avoid this, but if you’re doing it yourself, always be sure to test your website on varying screen brightnesses so that you can be 100% sure it won’t cause any issues. Also, take a look at this blog on the best colour contrast for readability.
6. A confusing homepage
We can all be guilty of overthinking, but trying to be too clever with your homepage can lead to a few very clever sentences that don’t actually give the reader any clue of what your business actually is. Meaning, they’ll probably just get confused and click away without ever knowing what you do.
The key is to look at your homepage from an outsider’s perspective; someone who most likely has never even heard of your business before. Is your tagline specific enough for them to understand what your business is about?
A bad example:
“Delivering beautiful solutions for a more aligned world.”
A good example:
“Delivering conservatory designs that integrate seamlessly with your home.”
They say you should be able to look at a website and know within the first 4 seconds what you’re actually looking at, so try and use this as a benchmark for going forward – and keep it simple.
7. Failing to answer the big 5
If you’re already blogging on a regular basis, but you’re shying away from answering some of the biggest questions your ideal customers want to hear (in case it puts them off), you won’t be doing yourself any favours. Instead, you should be addressing what marketing expert Marcus Sheridan calls ‘The Big Five’.
Those big, important topics (such as price, problems or what your competitors are doing) are often the subjects your readers want to know the most! In fact, I’m willing to bet they are out there searching for answers right now, so it’s up to you to provide them and win their business.
You should also be sharing your expert industry knowledge to show that you really know your stuff – after all, anyone can just bluff their way through a sale, but actually proving you’re the best person for the job is a different matter.
8. Including too much industry jargon
As I mentioned above, your website should really be customer-centric, meaning that it’s geared towards your ideal buyer. You should talk their language, and be focused on finding solutions to their problems.
So, although YOU might know what you mean by including a bunch of industry jargon, they might not. In most cases, your best bet is to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible, with clear language that leaves no room for second-guessing – just like your tagline.
Of course, this all depends on who your target audience is. So, if you’re geared towards selling supplies to other businesses, perhaps a little bit of jargon is exactly what they like to hear. The key here is to research your buyer personas and cater to them; no-one else.
9. Failing to optimise for search
SEO (search engine optimisation) is also important if you want your website to be found and indexed by Google – which in turn helps you show up in search when your potential customers are looking for your products and services.
However, a lot of companies come to me about SEO for the wrong reasons, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked how to get to the top of Google.
Ranking highest for specific keywords and always being number one is NOT the most important thing you should be doing – the focus should always be on helping your customers.
With that in mind, the three most important things you can do to help optimise your website’s SEO are:
- Get a Google MyBusiness listing (if you don’t have one already)
- Ensure Google can index your pages using Webmaster tools
- Check you include relevant keywords naturally on your pages
TIP: Check out my recent blog for more information on how to improve your website’s SEO.
10. Ignoring your title tags and meta data
You’d be surprised how many companies want to score well with their SEO, yet somehow manage to completely ignore their site’s title tags and meta data – which is why this subject is getting its own entire section!
Title tags are HTML elements of individual web pages that make it easier for search engine bots to evaluate their relevance to a specific search term. This is taken into account when your web pages are indexed, so it’s important to include relevant keywords in your title tags – instead of leaving them blank.
Meta tags are simple lines of code which are found in the background of your web pages. Search engines such as Google check these meta tags to better understand what a page is actually about, so it’s also a good idea to include a specific keyword here, too. (Although it’s not really used as a ranking factor)
11. Not varying your content
Visual content is now more important than ever, so sticking with the same old written blog posts could mean you’re missing a trick. There’s so much more you could be doing, such as including fresh, vibrant infographics, helpful videos, or informative SlideShares.
For instance, did you know that between April and November 2015, the number of average daily video views doubled to 8 billion views per day? Researchers also found that coloured visuals increased the likelihood of your content being read by around 80%.
Syndacast has also predicted that 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video – now that’s a statistic that is hard to ignore.
12. A static design
These days, no-one gets very far with a static design; instead, your website should always be changing with regularly updated, fresh content (something Google loves) and pages that are repeatedly tested and optimised for the best results.
You shouldn’t have to go to your designer every time you want to make a change to your website, and at the same time, displaying the same old content from 2013 isn’t likely to win you much business. This is why dynamic sites win out.
Your website should also be integrated for social sharing, and allow for users to interact seamlessly with your changing campaigns – whether they’re browsing on a mobile or on their desktop computer.
13. No quality inbound links
HubSpot describes an inbound link as “a link coming from another site to your own website. ‘Inbound’ is generally used by the person receiving the link.” Websites that receive more quality inbound links tend to rank the highest in search – as long as the link is coming from an authoritative source.
Inbound links are also important for building referral traffic to your website, although the amount you receive will ultimately depend on how much traffic visits that particular blog or website in the first place.
However, you should stay away from the practice of artificial link building, which can actually harm your website’s SEO and even cause you to be penalised by Google. This used to be standard practice for SEO companies in order to help their clients rank better in search, but Google is getting smarter every day.
In fact, Mozilla, WordPress, The Washington Post and even the BBC have fallen foul of this grave error in the past. Don’t worry though, it’s not the end of the world – it will just take a while for your website to recover!
According to HubSpot, a good inbound link should:
- Come from a trusted, authoritative website
- Use proper anchor text
I hope this blog has been helpful, but as I said, please don’t be too disheartened if you’ve accidentally made some of the mistakes above – they’re surprisingly common, and even the most successful household names have committed these major website don’ts!
If you’d like some advice about the way forward for your home improvement website design, or are thinking about investing in a redesign, please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment below.
Which of the above website don’ts are YOU guilty of? I’d love to hear from you!