Make sure your pet-industry site’s graphics support your content

“What a beautiful website! I couldn’t find what I needed, but it sure is a pretty site.”

That kind of a compliment is death to an online business. Here’s why. If your site is gorgeous — a work of art — but the graphics dominate the content, visitors will be less likely to find the information or solutions they need from you. The result: You may lose them.

And what’s the main purpose of having a website? In most cases, it’s to DRIVE BUSINESS. Yes?

So today’s tip offers 5 ways to make sure your web graphics support sales and help visitors find exactly what you have to offer … as quickly as possible.

  • Follow usability standards, first and foremost: Remember your audience: What are they looking for? How can you help them find it in the easiest way? The answer is: use navigation that people expect, not something clever, creative or unique. To follow proven web usability standards, put the main navigation horizontally underneath your banner or down the left column. If you get really creative, people will be confused and/or frustrated as they try to figure out your site structure. When you consider that a person may visit your site plus several others to compare solutions, wouldn’t you like to be the easiest site to navigate? You’ll find usability standards information on my site (look under Step #3).
  • Make sure the most important information can be read “Above the Fold:” We’re living in an age of short-attention-span browsing. If your big promise, key benefits and primary solutions aren’t seen by visitors within seconds of landing on your site, it’s very likely that your ideal customers will move on. So be very careful about filling that first screen area with a giant beautiful photo of your product. Although it may be lovely, this does not provide the information your visitors need.
  • Use photos, charts, logos and images to support messages, not fill space: Here’s my mantra of the day (say it out loud 3 times with gusto): Relevant, clear and persuasive content is still king! In fact, content is more critical than ever as people look for immediate answers in a sea on Internet confusion. Did you know that Google reached a new milestone about a year ago … indexing a trillion web pages? Relevant content is becoming THE MUST-HAVE foundation for online marketers to reach intended audiences. Therefore, make sure graphic elements play a supporting role for your lead actor, the content.
  • Use color wisely: The worst thing you can do to great content is kill it with the wrong color choices. Frankly, it’s painful to read dark purple text against an all-black website background. Or soft pale gray text against an all-white background. The eye needs contrast to easily read messages. Ideally, colorful text and color combos should be reserved for promotion buttons, banners, navigation, charts and special-attention boxes. Visitors will be grateful if your larger sections of text are simply black against a clean white backdrop, with standard blue text indicating links.
  • Follow what’s working regarding online graphics: Hint of the day: web testing proves that orange is a powerful color for call-to-action buttons such as “Order now” or “Subscribe Now.” Who knew? Well, you’ll know these things if you follow the latest tests and trends on sites like MarketingExperiments, MarketingSherpa, MarketingProfs, and others. For web success, it’s important to become an ongoing student of what works online! (If you don’t have time, I’m happy to do it for you.)

I’d love to get your feedback about this tip or your questions about other aspects of web content that works for pet marketers. Just leave a comment and I’ll respond quickly.

Until next time,

Here’s to a clear and prosperous site!