The nonverbal side of online marketing – part 2
#3 Soothing Typography for your website
People are accustomed to great typography thanks to decades of big-mediatextual content like newspapers and books. So, if you’re producing web content, you must meet these ingrained psychological expectations or risk losing visitors and customers before they finish reading two sentences. And this is why typography is the 3rd element of Nonverbal Website Intelligence.
Now I could talk about line heights, letter spacing, and other jargon like that, but it won’t make much sense to many of you (or me). It’s better to leave that stuff to professionals because it takes years to learn and master. Instead, I’ll teach you how typography communicates with people “under the radar. ”For example, there’s a perfect font for increasing website readability andI’ll tell you what it is. There’s also a font that gets customers thinking “highprices,” and I’ll tell you about that too!
Before we continue, that jargon stuff I mentioned earlier is vital for website usability. If you use the Thesis Theme for WordPress, it’s taken care of “outof the box.” If you don’t, you should hire a professional designer who’s spent years learning the perfect way to present text. Ready? Let’s get into it!
A. The Perfect, Most Readable Font
People who visit your website are doing so via many different types of computers. Some may be using a PC with a 15” monitor while others may be us-ing a 27” iMac. Keeping that in mind, what’s the best font to ensure that everyone can read your content without any problems? If you’re using smaller than 12px for font size, the generally accepted standard is Verdana. Research has shown that it’s the most readable font. However, if you’re using larger than 12 px for font size, the generally accepted standard is Arial.
While these are good rules of thumb, I do have to make one comment. The research that came up with these conclusions was conducted in the early 2000s. And, as you already know, much has changed. For example, people are using higher resolution, larger computer screens. So, after talking with Chris Pearson (he’s a type-design nut, which is why Thesis has pinpoint font controls and mathematically-precise typography) he thinks new research, when conducted, will find different conclusions.
Both Arial and Verdana are what you call sans-serif font faces, which means they don’t have little feet on the letters like the ones in this report. Originally, sans-serif fonts were preferred on the web because they were easier to read on smaller monitors with low resolution. Serif font faces, on the other hand, were harder to read because the feet obscured how the letters looked. However, with improved computer screens, this may no longer be the case and new design theory has emerged that suggests serif font faces may be preferable for long lines of text.
The serif on the bottom of each letter creates horizontal flow on sentences. Some designers believe this encourages people to continue reading and finish content. Personally, I think each argument has compelling evidence. To make the best decision, I would fire up your stats program and look at your visitors’ computer specs. If you notice higher resolution monitors, you could safely pick Serif fontfaces. If you notice low resolution, you should pick sans serif. Or, better yet, split-test both fonts and see what works best.
B. Choose Simple Fonts (Almost Always)
If you want people to take some form of action, you should use a simple,easy-to-read font. It’s more readable and people will estimate that it takesless time to complete. How much less time? Almost 50%. To elaborate, researchers Hyunjin Song and Norbet Schwartz discovered this unusual trend when they tested it on two groups of people.
To one group, they gave directions in an easy-to-read font, and to the other group, they gave directions in a hard-to-read script font.The results were astounding. People who received the simple font estimated that it would take 8.2 minutes to complete the directions whereas people who received the complex font estimated that it would take 15.1 minutes to complete. Unreal right?
So, the key take away is this: if you want people to do something, use a simple font.
C. The One Exception When Fancy Fonts Work
Remember the two researchers Hyunjin Song and Norbet Schwartz? Well, aspart of their research, they discovered that fancy fonts work in this scenario:If you are selling a high-priced product, fancy fonts suggest more effort went into creating it. Since the font is difficult to read, people assume it’s difficult to make. How did Song and Schwartz come to this conclusion?
During a research experiment, Song and Schwartz presented research participants with a menu item printed in either a simple font or a fancy font. Compared to those who received the simple font, people who received thehard-to-read font believed the chef preparing the meal had more skill. Strange, right?
The key takeaway is this: if people must concentrate more to read your product’s description, they’ll often think more work went into creating the product .
D. Break the Left Margin
Have you ever watched a presidential speech? If yes, you probably spotted the secret service people on the stage scanning the crowd. What exactly are they looking for? According to Joe Navarro, in Louder than Words, the secret service is looking for what the they call “A Face in the Crowd.”
And what’s “A Face in the Crowd,” you ask? Body language research shows that people watching a speech share similar facial expressions. However, when someone has other intentions other than watching the speech, they often have a markedly different face and stick out like a sore thumb.
Now what does this have to do with Nonverbal Website Intelligence? The people visiting your website are like secret service agents. They scan through your website looking for something that grabs their attention, or, in other words, they look for the “Face in the Crowd.” Now, chances are, you see where I’m going here. You want your typography to be a cohesive crowd. Nothing should stick out. The letters should start at the left margin. However, if you want to create that “Face in the Crowd” to grab attention, one of the best ways to do that is to violate the left margin. Make something stick out a little bit more than it should and people will notice it almost immediately.
Do you see how the bag of money hangs off of the right margin? Everything is as expected and uniform at the right margin, until you see that icon. What happens next? Your attention is instantly drawn to the Free E-Course. Imagine what subscription conversions are like! You can easily do similar things with your typography as well. Typically, website text lines up on a left margin. You could begin the first line of paragraphs a little bit more to the left (called a “hanging indent” in typography circles), or begin paragraphs with a large stylized initial letter (called a “paragraph ornament”). Both of these typographical tricks attract attention by breaking the left margin. And that’s just two more great way to grab a reader’s valuable attention
4 Engagement Evidence for content or products on your website
If you want people to share your content and buy your products, you should expressly provide prominent evidence of existing engagement to encourage even more engagement. It sounds circular, but it’s true due to a powerful aspect of human nature – what social psychologists call social proof. People tend to do things they see other people do in new or novel situations because they naturally assume other people are more informed than they are. Therefore, people look for “evidence of engagement” before they engage. For years, online marketers have known about the power of social proof and have used it on their websites – just think about how you often see customer reviews, testimonials, and stated numbers of people visiting websites / buying products. But before you implement these “magic bullets,” there are a few things you must learn about social proof as evidence of engagement. So, keep reading
1. Eliminate Negative Engagement Evidence
If you’re a website owner, chances are you’re using social buttons like are tweet button and Facebook share button. While these buttons make it easier for your audience to share your content, if it’s not being used, is it worth keeping on your website? Yes, but be careful. Remember, people tend to look for and act according to evidence of what other people are doing. If you show 0 retweets, chances are, no one or not many will retweet it because no one else did.
Let’s get into specifics. Where can we see negative engagement evidence online?
– With the popularization of Twitter, retweet buttons are everywhere. If your retweet button typically shows less than 10 retweets, I’d consider using a retweet button without a counter.
– If you have a low Twitter follower count, don’t display it in your sidebar. People will unfairly think it’s not worth it to follow you. In the next section, I’ll show you how to add a positive spin to this
– Everyone blogs and most blogs have blog comments. However, if you show off that you have zero comments on blog posts, chances are, people will think your blog is dead. So, if you’re launching a new blog, consider disabling blog comment counts until you build up an audience.
Facebook Like Buttons
– As with the Retweet button, Facebook sharingis popular. However, if you’re not getting any Facebook Likes, you’re betteroff including a Facebook Like button that doesn’t keep a public count.
Facebook Fan Pages
– Everyone wants a fan page nowadays. The problem is, when you promote your Fan page on your sidebar and you have less than1,000 fans, it looks like you’re unpopular. You don’t want to actively display this because random people will, once again, unfairly judge you.
– Most bloggers use Feedburner for their RSS. If you have less than 1,000 RSS readers, consider hiding how many people subscribe to your blog until you cross that magic line into 4-figure influence.
– If you have an option to review your product, and the reviews are overwhelmingly negative, it’s better off that you don’t show them. Now, I know this sounds shady, but we’re talking about negative social proof here. As a business person, you should work to improve your product based on those reviews, because there’s no way that can make a bad product into a great or even good one.
2. Highlight Positive Engagement Evidence
Makes sense, right? If you have positive social proof available, make sure people can see it. You may think this sounds self-congratulatory, but it does wonders for convincing random people to buy or continue to visit your site without having to overtly brag or boast.
As with negative social proof, let me show you some specific examples:
– Has anyone ever emailed you a compliment about your website? Probably. You should ask them if it’s okay to display their email on your site as some positive engagement evidence.
Large numbers of people
– If you’re running a website, your audiencemay be larger than you think.
The key takeaway is that whatever you choose to highlight, make sure it’s the best thing possible. If your monthly visitor count sounds better than daily, use it. If your Twitter followers sound better than RSS, don’t be afraid to promote that either.
#5 Instant Access
Your blog leaves an impression on people before they see a single word of your content. Yes, really! Before the substance of your content can be evaluated, the first impression you make is this:
Fast site load times = positive. Slow site load times = negative.
Think about this for one second…
If you’re running an offline business, do you want the door to jam as customers try to come in? If you run a newsstand, do you cover the magazines with a heavy black tarp that you’ll only slowly remove while the customer waits on the sidewalk? Absolutely not!
Nonverbal Website Intelligence
The funny thing is, you may think this sounds trivial because of widespread use of broadband internet connections, but it’s a vital piece of Nonverbal Website Intelligence. Why? People HATE waiting for websites to load… even if it’s just a few seconds. And the worst part? People are unforgiving! To elaborate, a Gomez study showed that 78% of web visitors would aban-don your site for a competitor after repeated issues with load time, with 30% leaving after one issue
To Further Stress the Importance of Fast Load Times…
Not only do you stand to frustrate your customers, you also stand to annoy the traffic fire hose known as Google.
A few months back, Google revealed they penalize websites with slow loadtimes in their search engine results. And it makes sense, right? Why would they frustrate their searchers with slow sites? Now if you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking, “Enough! I get it. Fast load times are important, but how do I speed up my site?”
How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website
For starters, the code stuff is going to be too technical for most people (including me). So let’s stick to the best practices that anyone can implement.
Step 1: Eliminate Unnecessary Plugins
When most people get started with WordPress, they tend to get plugin happy. They often think, “I need all of this functionality to grow a popular web-site.” The problem is, plugins won’t grow your audience. A fast-loading website that doesn’t piss off your visitors will. Trust me!
Think long and hard about which plugins are absolutely essential to what you’re trying to accomplish. Then eliminate everything that isn’t essential.
Step 2: Reduce Image Sizes
With widespread use of broadband internet, images are common place (andessential) on websites. The problem is, larger-than-necessary images create server load because of the large file size. To avoid this, you must minimize the file size of each image. Here are three great links that will help you:
How to Optimize a Picture for the Web
Dynamic Drive’s Online Image Optimizer
• Tool Box:
8 Tools for Image Optimization
Step 3: Keep Your Code Clean
Many times the HTML markup of your content will get muddled up with useless code, primarily due to wysiwyg editors and cutting and pasting copy from Microsoft Word. Removing the junk will not only speed up your loadtime, but makes your pages validate cleaner for SEO purposes.
Plus, the underlying code of your website framework must be properly coded and clean. Poorly-coded websites and blogs kill load times and prevent search engine spiders from properly evaluating your content for indexingand ranking.
Finally, make sure the PHP elements of your site are efficiently accessing your database to perform functions. WordPress in particular can be notoriously bad about inefficiently calling on the database in search of the correct function, which slows load times and site performance.