How the best websites turn visitors into paying customers
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How the best websites turn visitors into paying customers

What’s in a good website?

For most of us, the primary goal of a website is to turn visitors into paying clients. But what is it about the best websites that does this? Let’s dig in.

1. Value

Your design only matters if what it communicates is meaningful and relevant. That means your content/message/value proposition needs to have value.

Hear it from Crazy Egg:

The better your offer is, the more likely you are to have a high conversion rate — ugly website design or not.

John Moore Williams of Webflow makes the case that content should come first:

You can’t communicate if you don’t know what you want to say. […] The next time you start a design, ask yourself what you’re trying to say and how you’re trying to say it.

So how do we create valuable offers? Hashim Warren talks about RUVU, the four objection-eliminating elements common to all great offers:

Risk-free: social proof and a fair refund policy
Unique: either it’s better than anyone else’s, or it’s completely different
Valuable: does it truly matter to your buyer?
Urgent: create deadlines and genuine scarcity for what you offer—after all, your time isn’t unlimited, right?

When you’re ready,

, and don’t worry to much about exactly how you’ll word it. We’ll cover that next.

2. Clear messaging

Once you know what you’re going to offer customers, strive to communicate it with clarity and conciseness. Grammarly has a great guide explaining how we should “never use ten words where five will do.” Skim through their examples:

If you’ve got a knack for words, you might be tempted to embellish a bit—I know I do it all the time. And it’s okay. Mycoted.com explains their take on freewriting:

Fast: write as fast as you can while remaining legible.
Raw: forget all about spelling, punctuation etc. There will be time for self-editing.
Exact-but-easy: be precise, but forgiving if you’re not.

Let this process happen naturally.

Once you’ve put your first draft on paper, Maria Elharaoui has 6 tips for simplifying:

Look for unnecessary words.
Use active voice.
Channel Hemingway (the writer). 😋
Make the reader’s job easy.
Think of your writing as a conversation.
Use visuals to communicate ideas.

Let people know what they’re viewing as soon as they hit your website.

Take an example from Alexa Rohn:

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Is that clear, or what?

She’s straightforward in what she does (copywriting) and who she does it for (wellness brands).

Now, .

3. Clean, unobstructive design

In the same way that writing should be concise, so should your design. Jared Spool puts it best in his famous quote:

Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.

Don't overcrowd. Get the main point front-and-center, and everything else out of the way.

My all-time favorite example of this? Comparing Google’s and Yahoo’s homepages:

Google

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Yahoo!

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Carrie Cousins explains why negative space is an important design tool, with tons of screenshots as examples:

Too little space makes a design feel crammed, busy, cluttered and difficult to read. Even if the effect you are going for is one of chaos, space matters.
Designers sometimes use [...] white space as a way to bring focus to a certain part of the design. As a general rule, spacing should be treated just like every other element and there should be a defined style for it.

Back to Google’s perfect example—right from day one, they used a landing page that emphasizes the one action they want users to take: search.

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Notice how your eyes are drawn to that center search bar? Even the first time you ever used Google, you knew exactly where to click, because they made it plain & simple.

What about in portfolio websites? Let’s see some examples:

A.H.A. Design

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This one is on the “artful” end of the design spectrum. Many high-end designers and firms trend towards edgy, minimalist sites like this, and Andy Hau is one of them.

Ryan Robinson

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He knows exactly who he’s talking to—people who want to start a (real) side business. And he makes it dead simple for people to start learning from him.

In fact, you should! He’s got tons of actionable tips for successful freelancing, and will be featured throughout the GigLoft curriculum.

Joshua Cannon

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This website puts Joshua’s work front and center. It’s lacking a clear call-to-action, though, and might be leaving money on the table. How could he make himself more “reachable“ ? This digs right into the next section.

Easy action

What do you ultimately want your site visitors to do? Hire you, right? Or, at least, reach out.

How can you make it super easy for them?

In a 2018 blog post, I explain one of my biggest pet peeves—poorly designed website forms:

Sometimes, I find that forms want me to enter a website URL, but don’t accept a plain and simple URL like “gigloft.com” as the input. Instead, they spit out an error telling me the URL is invalid, with no indication of how to fix it!
To a less tech-savvy user, this is a highly frustrating problem that leaves them wondering what the hell they’re doing wrong, and if it’s even worth figuring it out just to give your service a shot.
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In short, make sure it’s easy to reach you. I can gladly cover this more in-depth during office hours if you get stuck with anything on your website.

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