Web design and social media marketing are two topics that I enjoy studying, and the two certainly impact one another for website owners and bloggers who are attempting to increase traffic to their site. While social media is intended to put a spotlight on the best and most popular content, the look and appearance of a page will often influence social media users and their decision of whether or not they should vote for a particular submission. The design of a site can be either a positive or a negative influence on the voting decision, and social media marketers need to consider appearance as much as they consider the content and headlines.
8 Ways Design Influences Social Media Users:
1. First Impression
The first impression of any visitor, regardless of how they arrive at your site, will be heavily influenced by the appearance of the site. Generally, opinions are formed in a matter of seconds, not minutes, so creating a positive impression is critical. While most of your website’s visitors will have a short attention span, social media users are notoriously quick to leave a site that doesn’t impress them right away.
Obviously, when it comes to social media, first impressions can help you or hurt you. Try to evaluate your site from the perspective of a first-time visitor that is arriving from social media. Would the page increase the chances of getting your vote, or would it make you want to leave and visit another site? Pictures and images can often help with creating first impressions. A great example of this is Blog Well’s post 100+ Resources for Web Developers. This post was popular on Digg, StumbleUpon and del.icio.us. While there are plenty of other similar lists for designers and developers, this one got a boost from a picture at the top of the post (screenshot below). Interestingly, the majority of the comments on the Digg submission (which received over 2,000 diggs) had nothing to do with the article or the developer resources, but rather the girl. This is an example of a blog using a picture to capture the attention of visitors (at least male visitors) and using that to attract social media votes
2. Page Load Time
Because most social media users are impatient, and because they have hundreds of other pages waiting for them to visit, page load time becomes even more of a factor than it is in general. If you plan to market heavily with social media, it’s a good idea to design your site to load as quickly as possible. This doesn’t mean that no slow-loading pages will have success with social media, but it can help you out if visitors are able to get to your content very quickly.
3. Readability of Content
If social media users are voting for content that they like, they need to be able to easily read the content in the first place. Most visitors that come from social media will be scanning the page rather than reading word-for-word, so make it easy on them by using short paragraphs, plenty of whitespace, bulleted lists, bold text, etc. Take the time to consider the layout of the page and how it will affect readability.
4. Emphasis of Content
If you hope to impress social media voters with your content, make sure it is front and center and impossible to miss. Are there other distractions in the design that will keep emphasis away from the content? Sometimes you will see content that is filled with advertisements not doing very well with social media when it could be doing much better with different ad placement.
5. Implementation of Buttons/Widgets into the Design
Most social media sites provide buttons, widgets or links that you can use on your site to encourage visitors to vote. These can be very helpful, especially if they are effectively incorporated into the design. When designing with these in mind, you’ll want them to be located where they will be noticed, but not in the way.
If you are marketing your site through social media on an ongoing basis, as more and more social media users are exposed to your site, your branding will be impacted. How does the design of your site allow you to brand yourself in a way that will make an impact with social media users?
Typically, social media traffic will average a low number of page views. You can improve this by using effective navigation that leads visitors to other content that they are likely to be interested in. From my experience, the most effective way to encourage social media visitors to look at other pages is to include internal links within the body of the content. With this strategy, you may be able to drastically increase the amount of traffic that older posts receive.
Effect design should also include navigation bars or menus that lead visitors to other relevant content. In my opinion, this can help to increase page views, but not as much as links within the content itself.
If you are attempting to gain subscribers through social media marketing, be sure to design your pages so that your subscription options are clear and easy to see. Typically, you will want to keep them high on the page so they are noticed right away, and you may want to use standard icons that are easily recognized by potential subscribers