why you need to pay attention to design norms

The Goodness Squad Podcast Episode #27

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Show Notes:

You want your website to stand out. We all do! But there are some things your viewers really want to see. This episode will help you understand why following some design norms is so important.

Resources mentioned in episode:

The Goodness Squad
The Goodness Squad on Facebook
Ask Me Anything
Good Start Game Plan
Tech School

website design

Small and simple things can make great things come to pass in your web design.


Today, we are continuing our series on how small and simple things can make great things come to pass in your web design. So this is #3 in that series of 5 episodes and it’s all about following (or not) design norms.


An analogy about design norms


I want you to think about what would happen if somebody decided to put up a stop sign that was oval shaped and purple. Do you think that you would see it? Do you think that you would recognize it as what it is as you were driving down the road?


Why do we have signs and why are they always the same color and always the same shape? The reason is that we don’t have to think when we see it. You and I no longer read the word stop when we see a stop sign. We don’t need to. That image of the red octagon with the white ‘stop’ letters inside of it means ‘STOP’ to our brain. There is no thinking. We see it and we automatically know what it means.


Now, if it were to be changed to an oval, purple stop sign, we might see it, but it would take our brain time to process what it meant and what it said. And we would be confused for a moment. You do not want people to be confused on your website.


There are design norms for websites


There are more signs like this, right? Yield signs are always yellow, directional signs on the freeway are always green. There are certain design norms when it comes to signs and there are also design norms when it comes to your website.


One problem that people run into, especially those of us who are new, is that we want to go around the design norms because we want to be creative and we want to stand out and we want our website to look really cool. That is not the way you want to stand out, I promise. You will create confusion and remember, remember, remember a confused mind always says no. Always.


If somebody is confused, they will make no decision over making a decision because it takes too much effort, especially in our world today of quick wins and instant gratification. We don’t want to take these extra steps.


What are some website design norms?


1 – Is your main navigation easily accessible at the top of your website?


Sometimes I’ve seen it moved over to the side, and this is becoming a little bit more normal, but even then it’s usually a button.  Like the navigation hamburger that you’ll see on mobile will be over to the left on desktop, but still up at the top and you click on it and it will open the navigation over to the left. But that navigation, people look for it up at the top. That’s where they’re looking for it.


If your navigation is not there, they’re not going to take the time to look for it and find it. They will leave once they find that navigation.


2 – What have you named things?


I remember when I very first started, I found a website and instead of using ‘About’ for her about page,  she called it, ‘Meet me’ and I thought that was so clever and so cute. And so I called my about page, ‘Meet me.’


Number one, I probably should not have copied her. But number two, it wasn’t effective. I didn’t realize that for a long time, but it made people think, “Oh, what does she mean ‘meet me’? Like, does she do events? Is that what she means? They had to think about it. They had to think about what will happen when I click on that link.


They had to think through that process in their mind. And so people didn’t click on that nearly as often as they did once I changed it to simply ‘About’. So have you come up with clever names for your navigation? If you have, simplify them. Make it very clear what is going to happen when somebody clicks on that. Call your homepage ‘Home’, call your about page, ‘About’, call your contact page, ‘Contact’. Make it very simple.


3 – Is your logo up at the top and to the left?


You could place your logo in the center as well, but there have been many studies that have found that people tend to look for your logo up in the top left corner. The researchers determined this because it gets clicked on far more often when it is at the top left of your website than when it is in the center of your website or somewhere else entirely. You’re going to do a whole lot better if it’s top center or right middle, but have at the top. And if possible have it at the top left.


4 – Do you have certain things in your footer?


Here are the things people look for in your footer. They will scroll past everything on your website, down to your footer, to find these four things:

  • contact information
  • an email address or a contact form
  • legal information
  • email signup

Those four things are what people look for in your footer: contact info, legal info, social icons, and the ability to sign up for your email list.


5 – Do you have a search bar up at the top?


Do you have a search bar at the top of your site, sidebar or in your navigation? That’s where people are going to go to look for it. And if they go there and it’s not there, they’re going to get frustrated and leave.


All of these things, sticking to these design norms, are going to decrease your bounce rate, which is the percentage of people who leave your website without going anywhere except for that first page. You want someone to go somewhere else on your website. You want them to take that next step with you.


You need to have these 2 things on every page of your website


On every single page of your website, whether that is a blog post or your homepage, you need to have who you help and the problem you solve.


On your homepage or your about page, this is going to be very broad, right? Because this is your big picture promise, who you help, and the problem your website helps solve at a top-level.


So for me, the problem I solve is not enough profit from your website and not enough family time because you’re spending too much time on your business. Those are the things that I solve. So I increase income and time with family. Those are my big promises, but if you go to a very specific blog post, that is going to change. Or to a very specific podcast episode; so the promise inside this podcast episode is that you will increase your conversions.


Every single podcast episode, YouTube video,  blog post, every single post or page on your website should tell them who that page is going to help and what problem it is going to solve for them because that’s what people look for. They go to the page and they’re looking for answers to these questions, “does this page apply to me? Is this page going to help me? Is this blog post going to help me? What problem is this podcast episode going to solve for me?”


If you do not tell them that up top, without them having to scroll, then they are much more likely to leave your website.


Does your website meet these design norms?


So your challenge today is to think through if your website meets most of these design norms. If there’s one that stood out to you, fixing just one will make a difference. Small and simple things is what we’re talking about here. Pick just one that you are going to fix so that your website better aligns with the design norms that people expect. You will lower your bounce rate and increase your conversion rate.


Coming Up

If you have not yet subscribed to this podcast, I encourage you to do so, because in the next episode, you are going to learn why I have anxiety attacks at Disneyland. And more importantly, how understanding the principle I’m going to teach you will, once again, increase conversion rates on your website. I’ll see you there.

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