This is a Guest Post from Kevin at thesportsgeek.com:
Being an online marketer/affiliate marketer for nearly 4 years I’ve learned a lot about website designs and conversions, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts in an article here.
To give you a quick background about myself – my name is Kevin and I started doing affiliate marketing in the gambling industry back when I was in my first year of University. I learned the very basics of running a website in my computer science class and ended up trying to put up my own poker site. It took me a while to figure stuff out (with help from others), but I eventually caught on and have been learning something new at least once a week 4 years into it all.
Find an Experienced Designer
My first tip is to find an experienced designer to help you design a website template – whether it be a theme or a custom template.
You would be laughing if you saw the looks of my first few websites that I tried to create myself – they were down right UGLY. I spent a lot of time trying to make them look half decent, but in the end they looked like… well an 18 year old that didn’t know what he was doing made them.
It wasn’t until I got my first template for $50 that I realized the amount of time I was wasting trying to create a good looking site myself.
Your website doesn’t have to look amazing to convert visitors and make money, but it also can’t look horrible or most will just hit the “back” button. Spend a few bucks and get yourself a decent looking site.
Plan Your Calls to Action
My second tip is to plan out your calls to action. First what is the goal of your website. Some of my websites have a goal of getting visitors to click through an affiliate link and sign up for a product (in my case a sports betting site), while some of my websites have the goal of capturing the visitors email so that I can get them returning to my website often.
After you have that goal figured out you need to base your design around that. If you are trying to get your visitors to leave your site through an affiliate link you are going to want a design that has either a nice big call to action banner or button “above the fold” (which is the top portion of your website that visitors can see when they first land on the page) or maybe a “top list” in table form. The top list would be a list of “top 3 poker sites” for example.
The important thing here is that you have this stand out on your website, and that you give the visitors a reason to click through that link and eventually sign up.
If your goal is to capture your visitors information (name, email, etc) my testing and experience has shown that having an email capture form along the top of your website is the best converting. Check out TheSportsGeek.com and you will see I have a large call to action with email capture along the top. This is converting much better than the old email capture form I had in the sidebar. Generally the bigger your email capture form and call to action the more sign ups you are going to get. Try to get it near the top of your page so that visitors see it easily, and use colors that will stand out (orange buttons seem to work good – but it will always depend on the colors of your website).
My final tip is to keep things as simple as possible and clutter free. When a visitor lands on your site you should be able to draw the visitors eyes to where you want them to go. Don’t cramp your website with a bunch of banners, or too many calls to action. Have a simple navigation laid out, with one or two main calls to action that will catch your visitor’s eyes.
To recap – get a nice looking site, plan your calls to action and keep them somewhere that will draw attention, and keep your website clutter free focusing on drawing your visitors eyes to where you want them to go.
If you follow those simple steps you should get a pretty big advantage over a lot of webmasters out there. Cheers.