Experience Design Benefits Greatly From Behavioral Data

Human-centered design thinking has influenced much of the way that companies think about user and customer experience, and for the better. Because customer experience is becoming an important vehicle through which brand propositions are communicated today, it is worth examining if the way we design customer experiences can be improved. Particularly, is there a way to better integrate data and analytics into design thinking?

Human-centered design thinking has influenced much of the way that companies think about user and customer experience, and for the better. Because customer experience is becoming an important vehicle through which brand propositions are communicated today, it is worth examining if the way we design customer experiences can be improved. Particularly, is there a way to better integrate data and analytics into design thinking?

A well-designed customer experience offers many benefits, such as:

  • increasing the productivity of users and service efficiency.
  • Making solutions easier to use and, therefore, reducing support costs
  • Increased accessibility and reducing discomfort and stress
  • Signature experiences that convey and re-enforce the brand proposition

In order to achieve these results, most experience design processes begin with deep empathy, which entails physically observing, interviewing and surveying customers to uncover unmet needs and pain points.

These methods often help uncover significant opportunities to improve the customer services. Just as often, however, they take companies down unprofitable journeys and fail to identify growth opportunities.

For example, Spirit airlines probably ignores every stated customer desire except price (in most cases), yet it has a very strong business model. Can you imagine the market research that says customers don’t care about on-time arrival, service or cabin comfort and want to be nickeled and dimed for every possible amenity? An examination of behavioral data, however, would show that there is a large market of travelers who consistently shop for the cheapest flight, regardless of service, brand and reputation, and Spirit has learned to cater to this segment very well.

In my view, most experience design projects fail to bring in behavioral data and resultingly miss the bigger opportunity. I have observed many customer experience projects that try desperately to empathize with the customer, but fail to examine if this is the customer they want and what their purchase and usage behaviors truly reveal.

Sometime back, my team and I were asked to identify key factors driving retention and renewal behavior among auto and home insurance customers. Certainly, survey-based feedback was helpful and identified areas of dissatisfaction, such as complicated billing, poor claims experiences and unexplained rate increases. Individual customer interviews yielded even more interesting satisfaction drivers, such as financial trust and need for honest advice. However, looking at behavioral data, such as the types of policies purchased, tenure of the policies and household makeup actually uncovered the deepest insights. Although this is now common knowledge in the insurance industry, customers who bundle auto and home policies are much less likely to switch. Therefore, most insurance carriers try to offer an Auto-Home discount. Other behaviorally observed factors, such as the level of coverage selected and signing up for auto pay are also significant predictors of retention. Surprisingly, none of these factors bubbled up directly in customer interviews or surveys. Furthermore, factors derived from the behavioral data explained 70 to 80 percent of the attrition in any given year.

Despite this example, it would be very wrong to assume that human-centered design principles do not work or that some of the methods employed to develop user/customer empathy are bunk. However, I would say that interviews and experience audits are only one source of customer insight; mining customer behavioral data is another powerful source of customer insights. A well-thought-out experience design should have the benefit of both.

8 Website Elements for Strong Marketing ROI

There are many elements that go into creating a great business website. Any list of the most important is bound to leave a few worthy contenders off, but I’ll take my chances with this list of what I think are the elements worth paying attention to first.

Many elements go into creating a great business website. Any list of the most important of these is bound to leave a few worthy contenders off, but I’ll take my chances with this list of website elements I think are worth paying attention to first. (And I’d love to hear what you think should be on the list but isn’t, and what you’d remove to make room.)

1. Informative Content

Prospects aren’t browsing your website because they have nothing better to do or because they’re in a procrastinating mood — that’s what Facebook is for. They are on your website, or looking for a website like yours, because they have a problem to solve.

So, one element I’m not likely to remove — or even move down the list — is informative content. No matter what else your website has going for it, you’re not going to attract an audience or keep their attention if you don’t have content that helps them solve the problems they are facing. It’s just that simple.

2. A Prospect-centric Perspective

One way you can make your website content more attractive to your prospects is to present it from their perspective. That means writing from their perspective, rather than yours, discussing the problem from their perspective, and even organizing your site from their perspective.

(If “About Us” is the first thing on your website’s main menu, you’ve got some rethinking to do.)

3. SEO Awareness

The right tone and perspective will help keep prospects interested, but you’ve got to get them to the site first. Building a site that is SEO-aware is critical. Whether or not a full-blown SEO campaign is a good fit for your services, target audience and competitive market is another question worth in-depth analysis.

Either way, you want to make your site as easy to find as it can be.

4. Frequent Updates

Once you’re comfortable with the SEO requirements for the content most attractive to your audience, keep the content taps open. Update the site on a frequent and regular basis. Not only is this helpful for SEO, it’s also the fuel for powering many other aspects of your marketing — email marketing, social media, even more traditional marketing channels like direct mail.

You have to have something of value to share. Your website should be the central gathering point for this content.

Don’t overlook evergreen content, though. Its value is, of course, in its timelessness. But you can add more value by updating it, adding similar content from a slightly different perspective or tailoring it more specifically to a particular audience segment.

5. Calls to Action

Getting prospects to your site doesn’t magically turn them into customers, even if your content has them quietly nodding their heads in agreement. You have to provide a way for them to take the next step.

From newsletter signups to worksheet downloads to appointment booking tools, your site must have calls to action that encourage, yes, action! Get them to take the next step; invest a little bit more in the relationship until picking up the phone or setting an appointment seems like a natural next step, rather than an intrusion from a salesperson.

Why Your Website Should Create Conversations

If your website is presenting information rather than creating conversations, you must rethink your approach to online marketing. A website that offers only passive content to be consumed will see analytics showing its audience doesn’t stick around long. Visit durations will be short, and the number of pages consumed each visit will be low.

Build a website that encourages conversations.If your website is presenting information rather than creating conversations, you must rethink your approach to online marketing.

A website that offers only passive content to be consumed will see analytics showing its audience doesn’t stick around long. Visit durations will be short, and the number of pages consumed each visit will be low.

On the other hand, a website that encourages conversations and deeper engagement will see both of those metrics improve. But what exactly do we mean by conversations?

After all, setting aside the chat windows we sometimes see (mostly on B2C sites), the average website isn’t really about two people talking directly to one another. Fortunately, that’s not what we’re talking about. Instead, we’re talking about creating a web presence that encourages back and forth between two parties.

You publish content that your audience engages with. From that engagement, you learn more about what your audience is interested in, both individually and collectively. You then offer additional content that moves the dialog along, accomplishing two things along the way:

  • Educating your audience and providing value to them
  • Creating a relationship with your audience that encourages them to become clients

Here’s how you can make sure your site is creating that kind of conversation.

Point of View

Is the site written from your perspective or that of your prospects? Does it talk about “ours” rather than “theirs?” If so, your prospects are not going to feel that you understand their needs and are talking about their problems. Remember, prospects don’t care about your solutions, they care about their own issues and whether your solutions are a good fit for them.

Structure and Organization

That same perspective carries over into your site’s structure and organization. While it might make perfect sense to you for the sections of your site to mimic your firm’s organizational chart, your prospects won’t care. They want to know everything you have to say about what interests them, no matter how many different company divisions that information may span.

One great way to do this is to create site sections for key audience segments or buyer personas. Diving into their motivation and mindset will help you create sections that are organized to answer their questions and make them comfortable as they navigate their buyer’s journey.

Engagement

Finally, your site has to create opportunities for increased engagement. This can be a tricky proposition in that too many websites try to increase engagement too early. (Meaning, they ask for the sale long before the prospect is ready to buy.)

Gain trust by encouraging actions that requiring less commitment. This is a better approach than going all-in right from the start. Not only is that more likely to match the prospect’s level of trust, but multiple small “asks” gives you the opportunity to showcase the value you offer and the ways you differ from your competition.

These three broad concepts will help you bridge the gap between initial prospect interest and that magic moment when a prospect will invite a salesperson into their buying process. Given how much farther into that process that elusive invitation now typically comes, conversational digital marketing is critical to your overall marketing success.

The Web is Dying. Long Live the Web!

Will apps disappear as browsers became more capable? Or will apps supplant the Web as the dominant tool of the next generation online?

Email, Mobile and Social Media Marketing: Lessons from top-performing B-to-B and B-to-C brandsTwo recent articles (here and here) got me to thinking about whether “the Web as we know it” is dying or whether “single purpose apps are dead.” These arguments have been around since the iPhone became the next big thing …

And it’s no different in our office, where this has long been a topic of discussion. Will apps disappear as browsers became more capable? Or will apps supplant the Web as the dominant tool of the next generation online?

Clearly, mobile devices are a big part of the equation, since their smaller screens, among other things, all but demanded apps — particularly when the iPhone first came out.

But with the advent of HTML5 and the ability to do all sorts of things in a browser “natively” that used to require plugins and widgets, wouldn’t the apps disappear, replaced by little icons on our phones and tablets that link us to that game’s web page?

Perhaps, though I don’t think we’re close to answering that question. Browsers continue to add great functionality and apps continue to proliferate. Each has it strengths. For example, if you’re looking for a restaurant? You want an app. Whether it’s Yelp, Urban Spoon or something else, one or more of these apps has you covered.

And an app makes sense for most games, of course. Directions? App again, whether Google, Apple or Waze is your preference.

But what about a video? The obvious answer would seem to be the YouTube app, but doesn’t that come with an asterisk? Not every video on a particular topic is going to be on YouTube, even though the overwhelming majority likely are.

And that leads us to other instances where all the answers may not be in one place. For example, information on bike racks for your car? Amazon might list most of the available models, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll get the most comprehensive picture of the market through Amazon.

A search of the broader Web will find all sorts of sites with relevant information on bike racks that just don’t lend themselves to apps — bicycling enthusiast sites, sites that sell trailers and hitches and related car accessories, general fitness sites …

So perhaps the Web isn’t dying but continuing to evolve as a great generalist tool — an incredible repository of information. The place to go when you aren’t quite sure what the question is. Or when the answer doesn’t lend itself to being answered under the wing of a single marketer or other entity.

For us as marketers, this means we need to decide what will work best for our audience. That is true whether you’re considering creating an app as a marketing tool or considering advertising on app or Web networks. Your audience really makes this decision for you, and they make the decision based on what’s most useful to them.

Which Way Does Your Website Face?

Perhaps it’s true that there are no compasses in cyberspace, but your website points in one of two directions: Toward you or toward your customer.

FS1112_arrowsPerhaps it’s true that there are no compasses in cyberspace. (It’s certainly easy to think there are no moral compasses in some corners of the Internet, but that’s an entirely different conversation.) But your website points in one of two directions: Toward you or toward your customer.

Too many companies’ websites are oriented toward themselves. You see this in the language they use and in the way they’re organized. And while these websites can and frequently do have high traffic numbers, the traffic is usually being driven by factors other than the site’s own strength. That means, as positive as high traffic might be, the site is actually losing opportunities.

The lost opportunities occur because the site isn’t addressing the concerns of the target audience: Namely, the business problem they are trying to solve. A site that focuses on “me” and w”e” is never going to grab your audience’s attention the way a site focus on “you” — meaning prospects and customers — will.

Read through your website and note how frequently those pronouns are used in comparison to one another. Are you talking about yourself and what your company does? Or are you talking about your prospects and clients, their problems, and ways to address those problems?

It had better be the latter, because that’s all your prospects care about. As I say in planning meetings for nearly every project we work on, your prospect doesn’t care about you. They don’t even care about what you do. They care about what you can do for them. Your website had better make it clear that you understand this.

Of course, it’s not just the “your/our” split that matters. Content on the site has to be engaging enough to get people to dig more deeply, return to the site, subscribe to your newsletter, and share content with colleagues.

The key word in that last paragraph is “engaging.” That’s the key not only to traffic but also to conversions, which is really what we’re interested in. Because as gratifying as it is to know that people are reading your website, traffic numbers don’t pay the bills for most of us. We need to convert those visitors into clients.

There’s more to consider beyond the language you’re using and the topics you’re addressing. Review your site again, paying attention to navigation and structure. Is the site organized along departmental lines that make sense only to people who know your org chart? Or does it group information in ways that make sense to a prospect or client?

Obviously, your site should be organized from the client’s perspective. All the information that might be of interest to them should be accessible to them without a lot of searching. Your sidebars and calls to action should lead naturally to the next question your prospect might have after engaging with the main content on any particular page.

The goal is to take baby steps towards that conversion from visitor to customer. Each page should have a call to action that moves them closer to a level of comfort that allows them to invites you to connect with them more meaningfully, from signing up for a newsletter to attending a webinar to actual human contact between the prospect and your sales team.

Once you’re paying attention to the symptoms of a website pointed in the wrong direction, those symptoms are shockingly obvious. Treating those symptoms can take some time and effort, but is well worth it in the returns a more effective marketing tool can generate.

One last caution: there is a third direction your website might point, and it can be harder to detect. Your website can be pointed toward the search engines. This means the site might seem as if it is focused on your customer, but a slightly deeper dig makes it clear that a reliance on repetitive keywords and stilted language was probably the result of an overzealous SEO “expert.” Make sure that content and information of value to your prospects is driving each page of your site. The SEO almost takes care of itself after that, as does your website’s performance.

What Does a Successful Content Marketing Website Do?

Your website has a tough job. It must appeal to your site visitors in a way that encourages engagement and moves those visitors toward action, and it must do this without necessarily knowing anything about your visitors when they first arrive. Once a visitor has been to the content marketing site or connected with you via social media or email, you have much more information to work with — assuming you have good CRM and marketing automation tools in place.

content marketingCheck out even more about personalization and artificial intelligence with FUSE Enterprise.

Your website has a tough job. It must appeal to your site visitors in a way that encourages engagement and moves those visitors toward action, and it must do this without necessarily knowing anything about your visitors when they first arrive.

Once a visitor has been to the content marketing site or connected with you via social media or email, you have much more information to work with — assuming you have good CRM and marketing automation tools in place.

But even without that information, your site needs to do the following:

  • Address prospects’ problems
  • Educate
  • Demonstrate your experience and expertise
  • Prove effectiveness of your solutions
  • Build trust
  • Provide a way to reach you

With all that is required of an effective marketing website, the planning and strategy that go into the site before the first line of code is written will have an enormous impact on how well your site performs. The tips below will make the process more productive.

Define Success

It often helps to begin at the end: Define what constitutes success. Is success adding a new subscriber to your email list? Getting a prospect to call or request contact with a sales person? Or is it actually completing the sale right there on the site?

If you know what you are hoping to achieve, you can design the site with that goal in mind. Or, we should say, with those goals in mind, because you’re likely to have multiple success points.

Adopt the Proper Perspective

Your site needs to be organized, written and focused on the world from your prospect’s perspective. Your organizational chart doesn’t matter. Nor do your mission, vision, values or your founder’s inspiration.

At least, not at first.

All these things will help bring your brand to life once prospects have been convinced that your solutions can help solve their problems.

Until then, though, nothing about you matters. So make sure your pages dedicated to early-funnel prospects are all about them.

Answer the Right Questions

You know the questions your clients and prospects ask. (If you don’t, stop reading and sit down with your front-line sales people and customer service reps. Their knowledge is going to help your marketing more than I possibly could.) Make sure your website answers those questions and, wherever possible, digs deeper to answer the questions your prospects don’t yet know to ask. This is a critical link in the chain from casual visitor to a prospect who is comfortable enough to engage with you more deeply.

Ask for Action

Every page of your website should lead naturally toward one thing: the next step in the buyer’s journey. That might simply be the next page on the site, subscribing to an email, downloading a white paper or eventually reaching out for contact with your sales team.

The difficult task here is balancing the need to maintain this tight focus while also presenting the visitor with reasonable options for their next steps. Again, planning and strategy will determine what those options should be and how they should be presented.

If you’re successful at defining success, moving prospects toward that end goal and giving them opportunities to engage and commit, you will have created all the elements for success. You’ll have a content marketing site that converts visitors to subscribers, subscribers to leads and leads to clients.

Learn even more about the convergence of technology and branded content at the FUSE Enterprise summit. Artificial intelligence and personalization will be featured among many other techniques and technologies.

 

Something Marvelous Is Coming: Variable Fonts

Thin. Bold. Condensed. Extended. The variety of fonts available today are seemingly limitless – unless you want to do something like have a fast-loading website. Then you’re better off using fewer choices.

Patrick's post on variable fontsThin. Bold. Condensed. Extended. The variety of fonts available today are seemingly limitless – UNLESS you want to do something like have a fast-loading website. Then you’re better off using fewer choices.

Why? Because multiple fonts and their variations take up huge amounts of file space. Which requires more information to load into that nifty site you’re so proud of. Which makes it slowwww.

And on some browsers (like Firefox and Chrome) it may display a default font until the page is fully loaded. It might even look different on a Mac vs. a PC. Definitely not what you intended your readers to see.

Variable Fonts to the Rescue!

Like an Avengers team of typography heroes, Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and Google have joined forces to support a new standard called OpenType 1.8.

So what’s the big deal? Now you can basically stick everything into a single, highly optimized file. Instead of downloading a separate file for each font style or width, your site only needs to make ONE network request to access ONE file for ALL weights and styles of a typeface. In other words, it’s a single font that behaves like multiple fonts.

Skia Variations
For Example: Look how many variations are possible in this animation above. Normally this takes take many separate font files. But it’d take just a single variable font. a significant reduction in the number of font files and file size required.

More Superpowers: Responsive Typography

Variable fonts will also help with your responsive Web design, allowing you to adapt for the many screen sizes and devices that people will be viewing. Type will have the power to shrink, grow, gain weight or get thinner seamlessly. Kinda like Antman meets the Hulk. Which means you’ll be able to generate the exact variation you need, and respond to factors that influence readability like viewport size, viewing distance, contrast, ambient light and user preferences.
It works like this: Fonts are built on a number of axes, each one controlling a different aspect. Variable fonts give you greater control by assigning a point value to EACH axis that will affect the font’s final look — as shown below.

More of Patricks' font images from post

width axis in Patrick's font postDunbar Variable FontsAnd it’s good news for type geeks (like me) who still get excited over printed design. Now we can condense or extend glyphs (specific shapes of letters), customizing them for a specific look. We can sharpen or round a typeface, shorten the descenders, or raise a font’s x-height in our never-ending pursuit of truth, justice and the perfect layout. Because, after all, bad typography is villainous.

It’s not a perfect world. Yet.

Right now, there aren’t enough variable fonts to go around. Type designers need to make more and be sure they work on each system. And we’ll need applications called “rendering engines” that work behind the scenes to actually show the font variations. Which means browsers and design software will have to support those applications.

It’ll take time to for font developers to convert and develop their current fonts to the new format. Browsers, design software and third-party software will have to adapt their apps to the new format.

Like past font formats (EPS, TrueType and OpenType) this new format could take as long as a decade to be fully implemented. As a designer, I’m excited to see this new format come to life. The infinite, perfectly drawn font variations are very exciting and can’t come fast enough.

Yet we’re on our way. The biggest companies behind operating systems, design and the Web have all collaborated on the new format. Notable independent contributors are already refining their type standards. It’s a brave new world ahead.

Up, up and away.

The New ‘New’ Corporate Website

Your prospects don’t care about you. They don’t even care about what you do. They care about what you can do for them. I am fond of saying this to, well, anyone who will listen. It not only encapsulates exactly what B-to-B buyers are thinking, but also pokes a little fun at the ego with which so many marketers think of their own marketing materials.

Tom Marin blog website design illustrationYour prospects don’t care about you.

They don’t even care about what you do.

They care about what you can do for them.

I am fond of saying this to, well, anyone who will listen. (I believe it’s the phrase on which my now-16-year-old daughter perfected her eye roll.) The reason I’m fond of the this saying, aside from it’s slight snarkiness, is that it not only encapsulates exactly what B-to-B buyers are thinking, but also pokes a little fun at the ego with which so many marketers think of their own marketing materials.

To avoid this trap on your company website, you must keep the focus pointed outward, not inward. The language you use will be a big part of this focus, but the site’s navigation and organizing structure are important, too.

In other words, the About Us and What We Do pages aren’t nearly as important to your prospects as you think. You should de-emphasize those pages and/or rethink them in favor of pages that explain the benefits of what you do and the impact what you do can have on your prospects’ businesses.

With that in mind, you should make sure that About Us finds its rightful home, which is not as the first item on your main menu. That first item, which can have any number of titles, should be an entry point into the ways you can help prospects improve their businesses.

(About Us should, in most cases, be the second-to-last item on your main menu. Having the Contact page occupy the last spot has become enough of a convention that you should not mess with your audience’s expectations.)

On your home page, talking about yourself and your products or services beyond a basic introductory paragraph is a waste of valuable screen real estate. That screen space should be used for three (give or take) calls to action that draw visitors deeper into your site.

Once you have your navigation and structure properly focused, you should review your site’s copy – both its focus and its language. In addition to being all about “you,” the prospect and not “we,” the marketers, it needs to provide value to your target audience.

Your site should include tools, tips, and thought pieces. You should have landing pages devoted to your key audience segments. And your materials should be timely and relevant to the issues your prospects are facing – exactly the things that About Us and What We Do nearly always aren’t.

To be an effective marketing tool, your site has to bring the benefits of what you do to life. Content has to include useful tools and tips and how-to guides that provide value to your target audience. The marketing value is driven home as prospects come to think of you as a knowledgeable and valuable resource on whom they can rely when they move from exploring an issue to seeking a solution.

Website Design, Readability and Usability

Mention the concept of readability and most of us think of things like Flesch-Kincaid scores and grade levels. But there’s another side to readability that is too often overlooked: design. Here are a few points to consider when you are guiding your design team or evaluating their content-related work.

Mention the concept of readability and most of us think of things like Flesch-Kincaid scores and grade levels. But there’s another side to readability that is too often overlooked: design.

As a new website is being designed, layouts are typically created for all page types. Even if dummy or “greeked” content is used, that content is styled to match the overall design and with the intention that content on the site will match.

That’s a good first step toward ensuring solid usability, but placeholder text rarely has the same range of elements as real text — the headlines and subheadlines, bullet points and pull quotes, and most critically, the links that are an important part of any website.

To combat the problem — and to keep coders from making design and usability decisions as they build out the site — here are a few points to consider when you are guiding your design team or evaluating their content-related work.

Readability: Content vs. Control

If a website does not create a distinction between editorial content and navigational controls, you will sense a problem. You may not notice it in the way a design or UX expert would, but you will notice it because the site will make you stop and think, perhaps just momentarily, about whether what you’re looking at is information to be processed or a way to move around the site.

This is rarely an issue for the main menu on a site, which are set apart from page content quite plainly and is usually consistent on nearly every page of a site. You’re more likely to run into issues with submenus and, especially, with content that doesn’t quite fit the site’s overall structure.

The latter occurs when a site wasn’t built with, say, a third level of pages in mind, and there is one small area of the site that needs that extra depth. Hardly ever will a content manager want to be bothered with calling in the designers for so small an issue, so the extra level is created as an afterthought.

Without a designer and with the inevitable focus on speed, it’s no wonder you can wind up with content that looks like navigation and navigation that looks like content.

Linking Properly

Menus always make links obvious, but there are times when it is necessary — and more appropriate — for links to appear as text within the page content. How you set these links apart is an important part of usability and a key design consideration. That said, this is a place where a designer can sometimes get in the way.

While nobody wants to see text links that look like they came straight out of 1996 — except maybe Craigslist — but from a usability standpoint, that’s a far better alternative than links that are designed to “match” the page design to the point that they are nearly undetectable. Yes, a dark gray link will match black text better than bright blue, but nobody is going to know it’s a link — especially if it’s not bold, underlined, or a different typeface.

Craig's List Screen Shot - High Readability?

There’s a lot of ground in the middle between these two options. Be sure to maximize usability first and design second.

Does It Scan?

There are hundreds of resources that will offer opinions about how long each line of text should be on your website, how large your type should be, and even whether serif or sans serif fonts are more readable. You can drive yourself mad trying to find rules to follow. Your best bet is to keep it simple.

Thinking: The Mistake Your Website Shouldn’t Make

Anyone who’s spent any time around me at all knows I’m a fan of Steve Krug’s book, “Don’t Make Me Think.” But what exactly does that mean? Clearly, we do want them to think about our content. What we don’t want them to think about is how to find our content or the contact form or anything else for that matter. We want to avoid playing with expectations. Cleverness should not get in the way of clarity.

Anyone who’s spent any time around me at all knows I’m a fan of Steve Krug’s book, “Don’t Make Me Think.” But what exactly does that mean? Clearly, we do want them to think about our content.

What we don’t want them to think about is how to find our content or the contact form or anything else for that matter. We want to avoid playing with expectations. Cleverness should not get in the way of clarity.

With that in mind, and the hope that you’ll find a copy of Don’t Make Me Think for yourself — it’s a quick read! — here are some of the practical applications of the “Krug Philosophy.”

Keep It Simple

If you overproduce a web page — as can often happen if it’s the design team that’s leading the show — it’s more likely that visitors will dismiss important information as marketing fluff. This goes for the big picture as well as granular elements like buttons and links. That isn’t to say that your site needs to look like Craigslist, but you should be sure that user-friendliness doesn’t take a back seat to design for design’s sake.

Two notes on this: first, simplicity may be, well, simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’re going to have “less design,” you’re probably going to have to sweat the details more to get it right. And second, laugh at Craigslist if you want, but first have a look at the website of perhaps the world’s leading usability experts, the Nielsen Norman Group. Chances are, they’re site resembles the Craigslist site more than it does yours.

Keep It Digestible

You might be tempted to tell them everything you can. Don’t. If you think that laying it all out there is the way not to miss anyone who might be even vaguely interested in what you’re selling you’re wrong.

First of all, doing so makes you sound desperate, like a kid laying out every possible reason, most of them entirely irrelevant, why she should be allowed to go to the big party this weekend …

Second, well, it’s too much. People will skip the wall of text in search of something that can give them the information they want quickly.

But be sure you understand why speed is so important here. I don’t buy the whole “short attention span” argument in this case. Most of us have plenty of attention to give to the things that are important. But we’re all busy and we want to solve our problems quickly. Concise copy make that possible. Give me the supporting data at a secondary level. I’ll seek it out if I want it.

Make Search Matter

It has to work, its granularity has to fit the needs of the site, and results pages have to be useful. In other words, don’t provide more facets/filters than you have content to support. The result will be too many empty search results pages, which never looks good.