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Appearance Matters: How Your Design Can Optimize Your Website

Appearance Matters: How Your Design Can Optimize Your Website
A lot of what goes into making a website beautiful and polished seems like sorcery…but it doesn’t have to.

Your website is your repair shop’s internet storefront.

It is important—some might even say critical—to the continued growth of your operation.

Appearances matter. Your own shop is probably clean, right? At least, the lobby/front office area, yeah? 

Well, appearances matter for websites, too. If someone lands on your shop’s page and finds it difficult to navigate, or buggy, or just plain ugly, what are they gonna do?

Leave.

They will continue searching until they find a shop with a site they can figure out.

We talk a lot about SEO and page types, and yes, those are all important parts of the website game. But we’re taking a slightly different tack today—today, we’re talking about appearance, and some graphical/design tricks that can make your website look better and help you score more leads. And we all want more leads!

To bring you this article, we cornered and pinned down two artists: the esteemed Sam Rapp, Fullbay’s Senior Graphic Designer, and web developer Peter “Horus” Emerson. 

YOUR WEBSITE BUILDS TRUST

“The design helps get your information across in a logical way,” Peter says. “A good design inspires trust.”

Let’s zero in on that for a moment. Trust is everything in this industry. If your customer doesn’t trust you, they aren’t going to come back to your shop. And if they don’t trust your website, they aren’t going to visit your shop.

“The website is one of the very first impressions you’re going to give to a customer,” Sam adds. “Even if they see your ad on Facebook or Google, they probably aren’t going to automatically call you. They’re going to want to see your website.”

You’ve probably heard the term “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That is a beautiful sentiment when it comes to, say, getting to know a person, but it’s wildly untrue for books and businesses. People judge books by their cover every freaking day. You’ve done it while scrolling thumbnails on Amazon. So yeah, a customer landing on your site is judging its layout, its ease of use, and everything else.

If your site is hideous, or outdated, or broken, or any other number of negative adjectives, what is the customer who lands on it going to think?

They probably aren’t going to think anything. They’ll just leave your site and look at whoever’s next on the list, and probably give that shop their business because, y’know, they can actually navigate their site.

YOUR SITE MUST FIT MANY SCREENS

Along those same lines, your website needs to be responsive. People access the internet on all kinds of electronics these days (we’ve heard stories that folks can surf the internet on their refrigerator…what a time to be alive). 

Your site needs to look good on all those devices.

Yes, even the refrigerator. Maybe especially the refrigerator.

Your site might look like a million bucks on a desktop. But if it stops working correctly on a tablet, or on mobile, you’re making it hard for people using those devices to navigate it. Say there’s a trucker broken down on the side of the road who wants to call you…but they can’t find their way around your site?

See the section above. They will find someone they can call. That’s lost business for you—and for an entirely preventable reason.

Speaking of lost business, let’s move on to a topic that has befuddled many a small business owner: accessibility.

ACCESSIBILITY 

Some of your users may have visual impairments, or be using screen readers. The ADA has guidelines based around website building and if you don’t follow them, you can get into legal trouble.

These guidelines include:

  • Providing enough contrast between text and the background.
  • Making sure headlines are correctly organized (H2s under H1s, etc).
  • Adding alt tags to images so a screen reader can describe an image to someone who can’t see it well.

By the way, people get sued when they don’t comply. Beyonce got sued over accessibility. And Google is keeping an eye on these things, too. Not ADA-compliant? They can ding you. That’s bad for business.

Be a good human. It might just help your rankings!

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

The best thing you can do with your website—besides making it easily accessible, modern, and professional—is to keep it consistent.

You might have 40 or 50 pages of services, articles, and other information. But those pages are still representing your shop. How do you represent your shop in real life? Let’s think: 

  • Custom uniforms
  • Signage and business cards
  • A color scheme

Think of your website’s appearance as its uniform. You want someone who lands on your “Turbo Repair” page directly from a Google search to know it’s part of your site and your brand.

Some of the things you should keep consistent throughout a website:

  • Fonts. Select between 1-3 fonts to use throughout the site—for headlines, for articles, for buttons like “BOOK SERVICE.” Use fonts that are easy to read—no fancy cursive or crazy pirate fonts, please (fun as those are, they aren’t going to help you gain customers).
  • Colors. We’ll talk more about colors below, but putting together a palette that represents your shop will keep your shop website consistent.
  • Photography and imagery. Look for clean, crisp images that represent your shop. Sam shares that the repair shop websites she’s seen often feature pictures of techs working—a subconscious reminder that the shop means business. 
  • Contrast. Do you have a drop shadow behind a button on one page, but not on another? That needs fixing. Yes, it’s a simple thing that the average user might not immediately register, but someone browsing your site will subconsciously notice that something is “off.” 

Your web designer or graphic artist can help you put together a style guide. This doesn’t have to be a gigantic book filled with platitudes and color philosophy. It can be a single sheet featuring the colors, fonts, shapes, and more that you want to represent your site. You can help your designer select things, or let them do their thing while reserving veto power.

Once you have a style guide, keeping your site consistent becomes way easier. And if you end up switching designers or artists down the line, the newbie can pick up the existing sheet and continue seamlessly. 

CHOOSE COLORS WISELY

Bright colors, for example, are best saved for areas where you really want to draw the user’s attention. Talented designers and developers can actually guide a visitor’s eye through a site using colors and shapes because they know what people will look at.

“If you have a face on a webpage, that’s the first place a human eye will go,” Peter tells us. 

Here’s a neat trick: place a picture of a smiling person looking toward the text or button (for a diesel repair shop, it might be a “BOOK NOW” button) you want users to click. A visitor will instinctively look at the text or button the image is looking at, even if it’s only for half a second.

In contrast, if you have a picture of someone looking at something offscreen, your visitor’s eye will be drawn away from whatever it is you want to highlight.

You’ve got to be judicious in how you use these powers, though. Let’s take the color red. It is a powerful color. It draws the eye. It stands to reason that if you make every bit of text and button on your site red, it’ll make people sit up and pay attention, right?

Nope.

If you drench everything in bright colors and ALL CAPS, your site will be loud, and that’s it. It’s a bunch of people shouting in your ear at the same time—you can hear stuff, but nothing is going to stand out. Your visitors will probably exit ASAP. 

“If everything is a priority,” says Sam, “then nothing is a priority.”

FOUR QUICK TIPS TO BOOST CONVERSIONS

We wouldn’t leave you without a few tried-and-true methods to turn leads into customers. Sam and Peter had a whole bunch of ideas around conversions, but we’ve narrowed it down to four that will give you the quickest turnaround for the least amount of time. 

  • Add a “Book Service” button to the top of every page. Always, always, always give people an opt-in. Yes, you’ll have your BOOK SERVICE buttons on your service and repair pages, but what about your articles or About pages? Make sure someone who wants to reserve a spot now can do so whenever they want. Plus, whenever a page loads, it’ll be one of the first things they see—a nice reminder of what you want them to do.
  • Give them a HUGE reason to book now. The BOOK SERVICE button at the top of your page is great, but some people can and will (gasp!) read all the way through a page. Place a large, highly visible BOOK SERVICE button at the end of every page, whether it’s an article or a testimonial or a news update. Give potential customers every reason to use you.
  • Add “Trust Garnishes.” You’re collecting testimonials from customers, right? Use them. We don’t just mean a page devoted to good reviews, either (although that’s always nice). Choose the ones you like the most and place them right next to those big BOOK SERVICE buttons you’re adding to the bottom of every page. Why? The person who is hesitating will see that additional “Wow! These guys are great!” and it may just push them into clicking. 
  • Get yourself a blog. Yes, blogs are useful! Not only does a solid blog build authority (and thus improve your rankings in the eyes of The Googs), but they’re also a way to drive traffic and help users share content. Someone looking for information about Cummins engines might land on an article like this and then, finding the info solid, share it on their social network…which can improve your ranking with Google, because Google loooooooves shared content. But it will also drive people to your site…which means people are getting to know your shop and your name. What’s the word for that? Leads!

GO FORTH AND OPTIMIZE

Whew! That was a lot of information. And really, it’s just scratching on the surface of both graphic and web design and what goes into a website. There’s much, much more to think about, delegate, and manage—and yeah, it can take a lot of work. 

You know what doesn’t take a lot of work? Partnering with Dieselmatic. Team up with us and we’ll handle all of your web design (along with everything else you need to turbocharge your digital marketing). We’ve got the web development and graphic design chops to make you a stunning, optimized website that will get you leads day and night.

Schedule a call and let us handle the heavy lifting. It’s really that easy.

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