7 Design Tips for Superb Sites

Tips and tricks for constructing a client-friendly website.

Website design can be as fickle as fashion design when it comes to what’s in and what’s out.

Insurance websites are typically best in content and copywriting, and lagging behind in technology and innovation, and the insurance industry has underperformed the ISAR index for the past five years, according to Webaward, a competition produced by the Web Marketing Association, and the organization that determines standards of excellence for website development in 96 industries, including insurance. In an effort to help you develop (or redevelop) your website, we’ve compiled a list of seven design strategies:

1.  Image Choice
Dark, outdated images are so 1990. Images should be light and bright, and the subjects should be friendly, average-looking people. Prospects are more likely to relate to images of people. Also, statistics prove that an image that looks directly at your call to action—such as prompting a client to call or e-mail—can increase conversion.

2.  Eye-Catching Layout
Eye-tracking studies show that the right side of a web page is where the eye tends to look. That means you should never place your call to action at the bottom of the page. Another important point is that website visitors should never have to scroll down to find important information. Also, phone numbers should be displayed at the top right of the page to increase customer confidence. One successful health insurance site uses both a 1-800 and a local number, to give the company a local feel.

3.  Better Backgrounds
Replace sharp, square corners and white backgrounds with rounded corners, light-coloured backgrounds, and drop shadows. Adding this type of texture makes it easier on both your prospect’s eye and on your conversion rates. Making these changes helped one site jump 4.5% in conversion.

4.  Simple Fonts
Novelty fonts and reverse types are not professional, and anything under 10 pixels is going to make your readers squint. Play it safe with a 12-pixel sans serif font (at least), such as Verdance, Trebuchet, or Arial. Your content will be readable and your visitors will feel comfortable with a font that is familiar.

5.  Professional Logo
Most insurance websites suffer from one of the following fashion faux pas: A cheap-looking logo or no logo at all. You can’t go wrong with an attractive, unique, professionally designed logo that can also be used on your business cards, letterhead, and stationery.

6.  Keep Forms Short and Sweet
If you want to lose 94% of your prospects, use a super-long form that asks way too many questions. If you want to reduce drop-off rates by 78.5%, slim it down to no more than two pages. Agents can still get enough information to run a fast quote.

7.  The Right Home Page Content
You don’t want to overwhelm readers with too much text. Keep your home page concise and allow those who are interested to navigate to additional information with linked pages, instead of forcing visitors to scroll down. Short testimonials also increase home page conversion.

If you still aren’t sure if your business website is ready for the runway, you can be your own judge using the seven criteria from the annual WebAward Competition:

  • Design
  • Ease of use
  • Copywriting
  • Interactivity
  • Use of technology
  • Innovation
  • Content

To take a look at the 2009 winner of the Best Insurance WebAward, visit www.axa-equitable.com. To view the 2009 winner of the Education & Insurance Standard of Excellence, visit the Insurance Institute’s site at www.insuranceinstitute.ca. (Source: Norvax Design Team)

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