Every week we take a look at a new website and analyze the design. We’ll point out both the areas that are done well in addition to those that could use some work. Finally, we’ll finish by asking you to provide your own feedback.
Today’s site is Trade & Lateral Development, an email marketing firm.
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About Trade & Lateral Development
Trade & Lateral Development is a full service email marketing company. We have 10 years experience in this expanding, fascinating industry. We want to pass our knowledge on to you, so you can grow your business without needing to research the principles and best practices first.
Here is a section of the homepage:
The page above is not unattractive. The colors are bright and eye-catching without conflicting and the organization is fairly clear throughout. However, I definitely don’t think it’s as strong as it could be. As an exercise, imagine all the text on the page were blurred out, is the supporting imagery carrying the site’s thesis? In other words, could you still tell what the site is for?
I don’t think so. The icons at the top are generic, which isn’t inherently bad but when they serve as the sole imagery in the header, they come up lacking. I like the general weight of the header, it’s size is big and bold, but it needs to visually say more about the email marketing service.
One easy and popular way to do this is with a screenshot. Show a template that you’re proud of or a shot of your backend system. You can see this technique at work on the home pages of two of your popular email marketing competitors, Campaign Monitor and MailChimp.
This isn’t a coincidence, it’s a proven and effective strategy. Notice that each of these sites also uses very bright colors and employ plenty of whitespace. It’s the high quality, eye-catching imagery that sets them apart from Trade Lateral. Campaign Monitor even makes use of the same kind of generic icons, but rather than making them the hero of the page, they serve as supporting imagery to the textual content.
Which brings me to another lesson that can be learned here. Trade Lateral has tons of text on the home page. You expect interested parties to stop by the site and spend twenty minutes reading through your information, but almost no one has that kind of web browsing patience.
Instead, you have about three seconds to catch a visitor’s interest, and a page full of text won’t cut it. Especially when your competitors have such beautiful and friendly designs that scream quality and ease of use. The Trade Lateral page, by contrast looks like an awful lot of work. This can have the effect of overwhelming potential customers into thinking that email marketing is just too complicated altogether and consequently abandon the idea.
Sweat the Small Stuff
It’s not just the big picture design that could be improved here, the details could use some refining as well. As an example, take the buttons on the page. Their design feels a bit like a dated attempt at a web 2.0 style that is quickly dying. Keeping up on modern design trends may sound ridiculously inane, but it directly ties into the customer’s perception of quality.
Check out the comparison of the buttons below, again referring to the two sites we just used as examples.
Notice that Campaign Monitor and MailChimp have very similar button designs. The subtle gradients, the single pixel strokes, the colors, all feel more contemporary than the Trade Lateral shiny plastic buttons. I’m definitely not suggesting that you rip off the other button designs, it’s good to break out of the box and do something different. Just make sure that you’re moving forward, not backward in terms of style.
Another interesting thing to note about the buttons on the other sites is the phrasing used. Both utilize strong calls to action (sign up free, try free) rather than passive language (free email evaluation).
Let’s see if we can put all of the scattered information above into a more concrete set of suggested changes. First, reduce the content on the homepage to something more manageable and less intimidating. Lots of this content could be moved to supporting pages.
Next, make a stronger statement with your header, possibly working in some screenshots of your templates or system backend. Show what it is the customer is buying. Also, use your icons as a way to break up the textual content on the page into visual blocks in a similar fashion to that seen on Campaign Monitor’s site (again, don’t rip off their design, just use it as inspiration for your own unique end product).
Also be sure to update the graphics on elements like buttons to a more modern feel. This is in conjunction with making sure buttons contain clear calls to action that clearly state the purpose of the button.
Finally, try to take the sporadic, modular content on your page and integrate it better into one cohesive design. Notice how MailChimp actually has a lot of stuff on their homepage, but rather than looking like scattered puzzle pieces it looks like an integrated whole.
Now that you’ve read my comments, pitch in and help out by giving the designer some further advice. Let us know what you think is great about the design and what you think could be stronger. As always, we ask that you also be respectful of the site’s designer and offer clear constructive advice void of any harsh insults.