Matt Bailey discusses the foundational elements of creating a user-friendly site that will encourage users to convert. If you weren't here you missed out! It was jam-packed with info on making an intelligent site that leads users down the right path.


When developing a website, it's important to have clear goals and stick to these throughout the development process. According to Matt, most sites suffer from the "Alice in Wonderland School of Web Design" where their development teams have no goals and follow whatever rabbit trail looks good at the time.

Six quick tips for keeping your visitor's attention:

  1. Make your web site about the visitor's needs
  2. Rewrite for the web
  3. Anticipate objections
  4. Tell your visitors what YOU do
  5. Tell your visitors what THEY should do
  6. Show a little CHARACTER
Clarity - Help User Solve Problem


    • Good: GoToMyPC - "Access Your PC from Anywhere" - Has a clear value statement.
    • Bad (PR Fluff):  Mac - Claims to have changed the world with iMac. A bit of overstatement and PR fluff.
    • John Deere
      • Bad (PR Fluff): Old site made tractor sound like it did all the work for you without listing any features.
      • Good: New site much better and contains specific benefits telling exactly a what tractor owner can do.
    • Good: American Cancer Society
    • Clear message and links are easily available.
    • Draws eye with high contrast area.
Audience - Understand Audience's Way of Thinking and Behaviors

  • Write for users not search engines.
  • Cup (Mug) warmer examples
    • One has fun text and prices in the title tag. Connects with user and creates need.
    • Listen to customers
  • Read reviews and see what language customers are using to describe product. Review that and integrate that language into product language.
Words - Use the Words Your Customers Use

"Words are like little dynamite sticks in people's minds..." - Mao Zedong

Know the words your customers are using. this requires careful and thorough keyword research.

Text Links

Make links obvious so that users don't have a difficult time cruising through your site. Users are used to blue underlined text so don't stray too far. Place links around specific contextual text. Establishes context about what you're going to find when you click.

Value Exchange - "Is it worth it for me to (fill in the blank)?"

Don't require more info than necessary...make it clear what value you are giving back to the user.

Crappy URL's

  • Long and scary URL's vs short and easy.
  • Long links don't survive email.
  • Sidenote: Favicons (favicon.ico) can help add branding to bookmarks and tabs in browser.
Many sites have no clear indication of where you are in the site. It's important to help user know where they are. Remember that if the user can't find it, it's effectively not there.
Options include:

  • Breadcrumbs and navigation changing based on where you are. Include visual indicator of some type.
  • Card Sorting exercise
    • Organize sections, products groups etc, and make sure content of website is clearly broken down. Provides visual feedback to show if you have things organized well.
Well-designed pages and content = credibility. Visual appeal affects credibility. It's not just about how "pretty" a page is - it's more about how well information is visually organized. some elements involved:

  • Layout
  • Typography
  • Font size
  • Color scheme
Product Pages / E-Commerce

  • Benefits instead of features.
  • Call things what they are - "Diaper Rash Ointment" is more effective than "Boudreaux's Butt Paste"
  • Variations of keyphrases that people use to describe product. Mix it up.

September 23, 2008

Scott is the CEO and founder of Red Sand Marketing, a San Diego SEO and web design firm. A dynamic mix of marketer, designer, and developer, he thrives on all aspects of internet marketing and web development. Having been involved in search engine optimization and web design since 1996, he and his team consistently achieve top search engine rankings for clients in competitive markets, and have won multiple web design awards along the way.

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Search Engine Guide > Scott Allen > Usability and Conversion Workshop - SBM Unleashed