Web Design Advice

Written by Signal vs. Noise - - Aggregated on Saturday February 10, 2018
Tags: web-design, small-business, product-design, entrepreneurship, startup

I have a segment on my YouTube channel, where people send me the things they’re working on and I give them random advice. :) If you want your work featured on my YouTube channel and elsewhere please send your ideas along (nate.kontny@gmail.com). And I’ll give constructive, fair advice that I hope won’t leave you sorry you asked.

Brandon Wu sent me this awesome site called Markd. He’s received nice organic traction with it so far because it ranked well on Product Hunt.

Brandon, you’ve gotten a ton further than a lot of people do by getting an idea out there into the world. Clearly people are using it and it fits a need people have. So a huge congratulations!

These are just some things that I’d experiment with if it were my project.

Social Proof

One of the first things that stands out to me about the site is “Where are the Testimonials!?” There are a bunch of people saying nice things about this tool already on places like Product Hunt:

This is something I see over and over again. On product sites or portfolios sites, even resumes. There’s no social proof. And it’s so easy to fix.

There’s people saying nice things about you somewhere. Even if it’s your friends and colleagues at first. Once people see others giving you attention, the odds go way up they’ll give you some too.

Don’t Repeat Yourself

I’d get rid of the second textual mention of “Markd, It’s all about the people.” You only have so much time to make an impression on people. Be careful not to repeat yourself.

Sure your website is likely to restate a benefit multiple times or share how much people love it. But don’t say the exact same thing multiple times. Use the space for something much more poignant.

Lead with a Benefit

Markd is the quickest way to remember and organise people you find online.

That’s what your left with as a top headline when you remove the duplicate text.

I like it. I’d really play that up then as a headline. Big. Bold.

It does stand out to me though to be a little “featurey” in language.

I’d try to see if using a benefit as the top most thing you communicate would serve you better. For example Draft, the writing software I make:

My product name comes last in the initial headline. A benefit, Write Better, is the first thing I wanted people to understand Draft would help them with.

SEO

SEO for so many people is some dark art that you just assume a lot of shady marketers spend most of their time on or you can’t compete with.

Well, you might not be able to compete on SEO.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the knowledge of what people are actually searching for when you plan out your site.

When I was running Inkling our prediction market software, the space was crowded with competitors. I didn’t know what our chances were of ranking for “prediction markets”. Probably low. But I did know that’s what people thought of us as.

To try and stand out, a competitor dropped the “prediction markets” language and used something like “social crowd forecasting 2.0”. But people weren’t searching for that. No one understood what that was. They went out of business.

Props to them for doing something unique for sure. But it still needs to be something that fits naturally into what people have in their head. A problem they’re searching for. Something they’re trying to get better at. What they already think it’s called.

In your case I don’t know what that is. But it might be worth some time fooling with Adwords Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, or something like Market Samurai. Even fooling with Google Search autocomplete led me to things like “profile bookmarking”

Which might be a start to some great headlines to begin the experience.

Long Lines of Text

Long lines are hard to read and scan. And they can look wonky when centered and words start to break to other lines.

A fantastic article on typography is from iA.net. THE 100% EASY-2-READ STANDARD . There’s some great advice in there like: “As a rule of thumb, fit about 10–20 words per line.”

More Benefits

There’s a lot of focus on features on the site. Even this headline for example.

I’d try more headlines with benefits. Lots of big, easy to read, concise statements of benefits.

Examples at Highrise:

“Never let a lead fall through the cracks again. Get your team back to selling.”
“Life’s too short”

These were headlines at Highrise that came from hearing our customers talk about, not features, but what benefits they were trying to achieve.

If you need some help with doing those types of interviews with customers, you might enjoy these videos I did of our Jobs To Be Done interviews.

Keep it Siloed

I clicked on the about page and it took me to www.pepwuper.com.

I’m sure people would ask, “What’s pepwuper?” A consulting/business site? I’d avoid encouraging people to have to learn another “entity” here.

Get that page on the Markd.co site.

Share the Origin Story

I also noticed the About page repeats much of the homepage. I’d use that space for something unique.

You probably have an interesting story around why you bothered to create the tool in the first place. Share that! Over and over I’m asked for the stories behind why I created Draft or what made David and Jason create Highrise to begin with. People love origin stories.

Has it Been Neglected?

I’m not a lawyer, but I’d look into whether you really need or want a copyright notice in your footer like everyone else does. It’s a bit cargo culted. It’s also one of those things that are easy to forget to update with the current year. When people see that they often think the site or product is dead. If you leave it, you might want to just make it dynamic with some code so you never forget to update it again.

There you go. Some random thoughts and possibilities for experimentation.

Folks, check out Markd. Brandon, I love the idea and the hustle. Keep at it!

And if I can be more help, to you, and this goes for everyone reading this, please just ask: nate.kontny@gmail.com. Send me sites. Half baked ideas. Full baked ideas. Problems. Whatever. I’d love to help. (If you don’t want my thoughts of your work shared publicly on places like YouTube or Medium, please make sure to mention that.)

P.S. You should follow me on YouTube: youtube.com/nathankontny where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life. And if you need a zero-learning-curve system to track leads and manage follow-ups, try Highrise.


Web Design Advice was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


« ReactPHP with RecoilPHP: Creating … - Cees-Jan Kiewiet's blog

Eric L. Barnes - Patio11 on charging for your work »