There are countless ways in which a website can be improved. In our last Friday Website Review, many of you agreed that one of the best ways to learn is by looking at real-life examples instead of just presenting theory.
So, this week we're back with a new website review, including many small improvements you can make quickly and one major change that can completely transform you website (for the better).
Here are the posts that were referenced in the video:
- Why you shouldn't use "skill bars".
- 3 questions you can use to optimize any web page.
- WordPress commenting and spam-prevention systems.
Better Presentation of Your Offer
The main issue uncovered for this week's site is a lack of clear communication about the offer. One of the most important things you can do for any business is figure out what your unique selling point is and communicate that as clearly as possible.
What exactly do you offer and what makes your offer better than competing offers? These are questions your marketing message should answer as clearly as possible. Here's a guide to discovering how you can create the perfect unique selling proposition for your business.
Notes from This Week's Review
Here are some of the fixes discussed in the video, with a wide application to many websites:
Typography & Readability
Make sure that text on your site is easily readable, even for people who don't have perfect eyesight.
As a general guideline, I recommend using dark text on a light background, 16px or above font size and 1.6 - 1.9 em line height. These numbers aren't set in stone: depending on the font you use, others might work better.
Another important factor concerns headlines and sub-headings: these should be clearly distinguishable from regular text. Every page should have one main headline that immediately draws a visitor's eye.
Here's a post with a few case studies showing how dramatically font choices and sizes can affect conversions (note that they use "points" rather than "pixels" in their font size recommendations - in web browsers 12pt usually equals 16px).
Don't Use Generic Stock Images
There's a certain type of stock image that is all too commonly used on websites. You know the kind: attractive people obviously posed and looking slightly uncomfortable.
Images like this are easy to find, but they might hurt your conversions and they can cause a real credibility issue, too. When you use these kinds of images, it's clear that the people in the images aren't your actual customers or employees or support staff - and that makes it seem like you're trying to hide something.
Having a website that is mobile responsive has become the de facto standard. However, just because your website responds to different screen sizes doesn't mean that it does so in a good way.
Typical issues with responsive design are:
- Columns getting too narrow instead of stacking vertically.
- Large text not resizing and breaking on to too many lines on small screens.
- Designs that require zooming on smaller screens.
- Some elements remaining static and breaking out of the frame, while the rest of the website responds.
Always test your pages at different screen sizes and (ideally) on at least one tablet and one phone, to spot potential issues.
Use this Google tool to test whether your pages are considered "mobile friendly" by the Google bot.
Don't Waste Your Precious Testimonials
Testimonials can be a very powerful conversion tool and I definitely recommend that you gather and use them in your business.
If you do have enthusiastic testimonials from your customers or experts in your niche, don't waste them by just dumping all of them onto a single "Testimonials" page. If you do that, you leave it up to your visitors to seek out the social proof for themselves.
Instead, weave testimonials in with your sales copy. Whenever you can, use testimonials as a proof element to reinforce benefit statements or promises you make in your sales copy. And of course, all the points about typography apply as well: make sure your testimonials are well designed and easy to read.
Would You Like to See More Reviews Like This?
If you enjoy this content and would like to see more of it, please share this post and help us spread the word! Doing the website reviews is quite time intensive, but if we can attract some traffic with these posts, it will be time well invested.
As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below!
Hey Shane, thanks for this – really enjoyed watching that.
Some great feedback, would be interested to see a followup in a couple of months when they have made all the changes.
Thank you Steve!
I’d love to publish follow-ups for these, but it’s at the discretion of the site owners to follow my advice or not, of course.
Another great post. I’m over 40 and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so I appreciate you mentioning font size. Many designers in their 20s with perfect vision do not understand that those of us over 40 have trouble reading small print (web and print) and will skip it if unreadable. Adequate line height also is important for easy reading. You do a good job in both depts.
I’ve read two views on font size – using px and using em … when scaling down a site, does em sizing scale better?
Thanks again for your valuable insights.
Thanks for your comment! Em is a relative value. You still need to have one baseline value in px and then you can size everything relative to that, using em.
Very helpful. Please keep them coming!
Thanks, Shane. … The video was succinct, interesting, and informative, especially since I am just starting with your software and a blank page, today!
I thought “Virtual Assistant” wasn’t defined up front, and the definition could replace the large boast on the lead-in page. (I’m guessing that a virtual assistant is like an answering service?)
Thanks for your comment, Paul!
It would make sense to explain that or link to an explanation on the homepage. However, it’s also safe to assume that the majority of the target market will already know what the term means. If not – if the prospects are lower on the awareness ladder – then the premise of the entire website would have to be changed so that it first sells prospects on the idea of hiring virtual assistants for certain tasks and then leads in to the offer.
And another thing….I would suggest staying away from reversing the type into a dark bkgd (white type on black), or not having much contrast between type and bkgd. I have spent more time arguing with designers about this at several of the ad agencies I’ve work for. As a copywriter, I want my copy to be easy to read – inviting to read. A lot of designers just don’t seem to get it.
Yes, I can second that. On my own pages, I do occasionally use light text on dark backgrounds, but I only use it for short sections and as a way to deliberately add a highlight of something different to the page. A colored text box, for example. I would never make someone read a whole page with the dark background/light text combination, because it’s been shown to strain the eyes and make content less readable.
Thanks for this video. Great stuff.
I have the same problem for the GTmetrix test. I have grade A and B but the page load time is 6sec or so. The problem is that when I look at the timeline the thing taking long time to load is…Hybrid Connect !
You can easily see it if you do a hard refresh I don’t know why it takes that long to load. I tried to optimise the pic to the max but it changes nothing :/
But I’ve heard you guys are gonna make HC and TCB into one product so I bet it’s gonna be perfect. Any news on that ? 🙂
We’re only a few weeks away from announcing everything you need to know about the Hybrid Connect sequel. 🙂
Looking forward to this news.
Thanks Shane, your piece on typography has hit home, my ‘cool designer’ has text that is too small and in blend contrast, I’d often wondered and no I know. http://www.fcd-home.co.uk, feel free to take a look and then check back by next Friday to see your suggestions implemented.
Thanks, Steve. Glad you found good value in this post!
This was great. I hope you continue with this series. I laughed out loud at some of your observations. Very funny. I love your sense of humor – very witty.
The other thing I wanted to point out about the site reviewed was how a few graphics ( not more stock photos – your comments on those were very funny) would really help the site out a lot.
Just a few graphics created on Canva as you demonstrated would really break up all of those text passages and make the site much more easier to read. Or just a splash of color here and there by using white text on colored backgrounds for headers.
Thanks for your comment, Charles! I agree about the graphical elements. I always aim for a good balance between text and images, to avoid having pages that just look like a wall of text.
VERY useful. I’m in the process of using TCB and a ThriveTheme to completely redesign a website for a client (the original was in fairly clunky HTML, not WordPress) — and you guys keep posting so much really informative stuff that I want to incorporate into my approach, that I’m not sure I’ll ever get it finished! I’ll just have to say “this is pretty good” at some point, then do more tweaking later as you keep adding more suggestions and resources.
Absolutely, yes. Get something that is barely good enough published and then start improving it.
Great tips. I’ve certainly made some of these mistakes. I always learn a few new things and I look forward to the next video. And yes please to Steve’s suggestion, a followup would be great. I’d be interested to know if they make the changes and the impact it has. Thanks Shane.
Thanks, Dustin! Glad you’re getting value out of these videos.
You mentioned in the video that you would link to some spam plugins, but I’m not seeing them on the page. I use WP-SpamShield and it is very effective, but I like to keep a list of the good ones…
Ah yes, you’re right! Thanks for pointing this out! I’ve added the link to this post to the links below the video.
Love the insights you are providing in these Friday website reviews. I am learning something I can apply to my site with each one!
That’s great to know. Thanks for your comment, Ron!
Thank you so much for these great suggestions – I’ve certainly found many things I can tweak on my website. Thanks also for the links and the easy to follow article underneath the video. I love your work 🙂
Thank you very much, Carolyn!
I look forward to receiving your emails across all of your different communication channels.
I ‘always’ read your emails and enjoy your delivery style and the content and advice you supply so generously. Very rarely that I do not come away with a tip, a reminder or a slap but always feel that I have spent my time wisely.
The reviews posts are an interesting read and will help a lot of your readers and users of your products.
I say (perhaps selfishly) keep it all flowing my way!
Thanks for your comment, Ray! I’m happy to know that you’ve gotten value out of these reviews. 🙂
Keep ’em coming Shane. This is brilliant as always. What is particularly great about using Thrive themes and Content Builder is many of the items you mention are almost taken care of automatically by using the various features wisely! You don’t have to be that savvy to be able to look at a site and know what makes sense to you as a visitor so it never ceases to amaze me how many designers (and I’m not one by a long way) make the big mistake, often very costly for their clients, of creating something that is probably good from a text book / theory of design position but rubbish from a conversion perspective.
Your video reviews are excellent in highlighting what should be improved and why. It’s the “why” that really helps me. Thanks.
Thanks for your comment, Mark!
We try to do the work for you in as many ways as possible, with the themes. I think this is particularly important for things like typography and the basic layouts. These things are difficult to get right for us non-designers and can be really time consuming if you have to fix them.
I certainly hope that these continue, they will become invaluable assets over time for both you and us viewers.
Awesome as ever, thank you.
Thank you, Paul!
I really like and follow this blog,
but I bought thrive content builder two days ago and I still cannot access.
Your support team is too slow. I look forward to use this plugin but I wait about 2-3 days. I think you must improve your support team 🙂
Sorry about this. Please contact us at [email protected] if you haven’t gotten a reply yet. Our support team is usually very fast, so this comment makes me think maybe they didn’t receive your message.
This was a very informative review Shane. I like what you said about generic stock images. I tell my clients to shoot their own stock photos, or work directly with a photographer to create a unique stock library of their company assets and people. Keep these site reviews coming!
Thanks for your comment, Marlene!
Great info!! was about to click the share buttons but couldn’t find any
Apologies – they should be working now!
Great stuff, as always.
Thank you, Corey!
Another excellent review. The first thing I do during and after the review is check out your comments against my own web site and as a result I have made quite a few changes. Thank you.
That’s great to hear, John! I hope you’ll see good results from following these guides.
Hey Shane, maybe I’m too blind but for the life of me I couldn’t find out how to share this article on facebook with a click. I had to go to Youtube from your video to share it. Is this intentional or not? If yes could you explain why?
Apologies – that was an oversight on my behalf during a recent child theme update – the share buttons should be working again now!
Shane- So very very useful. I am Sooo grateful been following your generous instruction now for a year. Taught me to un-learn all the garbage I have picked up from others with a less clear vision of good practice than you. I am a lifetime follower now as you earned my trust and continue to over deliver on all projects you touch. You are the magic man. Please continue these reality checks in good practice.
Wow, thank you very much, Rob!
Interesting and helpful – please continue:-)
It would be great to see a review where the website is using thrive so that we could see not only what is poor design but also how it can be improved with the use of thrive theme /tcb functionality.
This would make a great case study and a great selling point too
Thank you for the suggestion, Sandra! I haven’t paid any attention to whether someone used a Thrive theme or not, in the selection so far, but I’ll see if I can find some Thrive examples for future reviews.
I’d love to see an actual revamped version of this website that fixes all your “complaints”.
We’ve added redesigned versions of the pages we review in more recent website review posts. You can find them here.