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Sneaky Web Design Tricks That Automatically Boost Readership & Drive-Up Conversion Rate!

Do you have powerful, irresistible, conversion-oriented sales copy that's waiting to be uploaded simply because you don't have someone to "design" your site?

Well, I've got news for you: Picasso doesn't do websites and you don't need a "museum piece." Your site needs to be visually appealing…inviting…easy on the eye. Nothing more, nothing less.

It simply needs to look and feel welcoming so you can maximize retention and maximize sales.

This means that you, too, can have a site that sells…and sells well…even if you don't have an art degree, a graphics department, or a high-priced web design firm on retainer. It's true that design and copy go hand-in-hand, but -- this next bit is important, so pay attention -- 

Design should always work with your copy in a supportive role. 

You read me correctly. Despite what graphic designers tell you (and each other), design is the tablecloth, not the meal. After all, it's your words that convince prospects to buy…not your clever use of color, graphics, or Flash animation. 

In fact, on many sites, design elements aren't attention-getters. They're attention mis-directors. They draw attention to the design of the site and away from the message of the site. Design like that isn't helping you make a sale. It's just the opposite.

Its effect is self-defeating…like shooting yourself in the foot. Or worse! Like shooting your prospect in the foot and killing his/her interest dead.

Don't despair. Your design "phobia" doesn't have to hold you back, and you don’t have to engage the services of a psychotherapist to get to the root of your fears. You have nothing to fear but fear itself…the fear of not having a website with a fabulous message drawing in millions of customers. 

Just put yourself in my hands for a few moments. I'll be your "doctor" with an easy-to-follow, two-part "prescription" for website design health. There's not a bitter pill in the lot…it's all easy-to-swallow (and easy to learn) stuff.

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"Sneaky" Pill #1 - The Black and White Pill

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Have you ever watched preschoolers with the BIG BOX of Crayola crayons…the ones with 64 colors in them. Little Mikey or Molly will use every single color on their tiny masterpieces and cover every possible inch of their "canvas."

Now that's fine for Mikey and Molly…they're in pre-school. Your website should be a study in simplicity. Not too crowded…not too busy…not to colorful…not too-too in any way. For you and your website, too-too is a no-no, and the big box of crayons should stay in the drawer.

Start your search for simplicity by looking at the colors on your site. Nothing is simpler than black text on a white page… yet this is usually the most effective way to present a lot of copy. 

The reason for this is elementary: The contrast is as strong and dramatic as it can be because black and white represent the extreme opposite ends of the scale. Any use of color is reduces the degree of contrast between start black and white.

Think about advertisements in fashion magazines or on billboards. A pink raincoat against a purple background? Or… how about white type on a lime green background? 

Graphic designers use such colors for their visual impact because fashion ads are driven by pictures, not words. The colors achieve the opposite effect that you're looking for.

Bright colors detract from the text by making the words difficult to read. In fashion, this works to an ad's advantage by compelling the consumer to look at the clothing.

On a website, the wrong combination of colors makes reading the words frustrating and annoying. If you frustrate and annoy your visitors, what are the chances of them buying anything from you? (In the language of professional sales, "frustrating" and "annoying" are synonyms for "no sale.") 

Don't annoy the consumers! Your job as a marketer is to make your copy as easy and hassle-free to read as humanly possible so that visitors will want to "set a spell" and read what you have to say. 

Now don't get me wrong. The right use of color can certainly help make a more visually appealing site. There are brilliant designers out there who know how to use tones and textures so masterfully that sites are works of art AND sales monsters.

Don't fall into what I call the "Bells 'n' Whistles" swamp. Too much graphic activity will pull you and your website down .like quicksand! Avoid the temptation to use unusual colors, combinations and flashy graphics simply because they’re available. 

A little color goes a long way and primary colors are a better, more clearly defined choice. 

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"Sneaky" Pill #2 - The White Pill

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Part of making your message easy on the eyes is to make it exceptionally easy to read. You want readers to breeze though your copy effortlessly. The best way to do that is to break up paragraphs into instantly scannable segments and provide plenty of white space.

What's the big benefit of a little white space? Short segments are easiest to scan and understand on the fly. And if your prospect is able to "absorb" your information easily…effortlessly…he/she is more inclined…is in fact COMPELLED to read further.

(In the language of professional sales, "compelled" is a synonym for "I've got you hooked and in a moment you'll be putty in my hands.")

The more you can break up your test into short sentences and paragraphs, the easier it is for prospects to read. If your message looks like an easy read, chances of your prospect actually reading your letter improve significantly.

Don't use bleach to add more white to your site. Just remember to keep your page widths to a minimum and for a brighter, clearer, cleaner looking website. 

Keep your text to a maximum width of 65 characters. That way your page should be easily readable from any monitor. (A rule of thumb is that you should always keep the ‘little people’ in mind. I mean those with the little 12” monitors set at 640 x 480.)

Warning! Warning! Warning. 

Avoid at all costs, the need for horizontal scanning. It’s enough of a challenge to get readers to scroll vertically through your sales message. To ask them to scroll horizontally too is absolutely ludicrous. 

It’s always a good idea to set your main page inside the width of the typical window. What this does is display an obvious page border so the reader knows instantly that he’s not missing out on anything. 

With a border, the reader feels omniscient (all-seeing), "Ah. This is easy. I can see this entire message easily. I think I'll read it in its entirety."

Without such a border, the reader feels confused, "Hey! What's going on here? I don't get it. This is annoying. I’m getting out of here." 

Some people say it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Marketers say it's better to facilitate easy, problem-free reading of a simple, clean website than curse the fact that prospects kept their money to themselves.

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The Gold in the Nugget

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Simply put, your goal -- in design and copy alike -- is to simplify the process. 
Clarify your message so that it cannot be misconstrued. Provide a single direction for your prospect to proceed. Funnel them through your copy to the order page. Clarify your design so that your message is not misconstrued. Provide a single focus for your prospect -- the words!

Now get out there and make yourself rich…and happy, too!

Dan Lok

Copyright © 2005 Quick Turn Marketing International, Ltd.
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About the Author: Dan Lok is known as "The World's #1 Website Conversion Expert", with a proven track record of selling over $25.7 million dollars of merchandise and services. Dan has resuscitated copy that was previously in "critical condition" and helped his clients to double and triple their conversion rates… some as much as 417%!!! More than 200 websites have been "Lok-ed" and loaded for Internet action. Go to: http://www.WebsiteConversionExpert.com 

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