If you’ve been asked to draw up a digital sales proposal, then paying attention to good user experience (UX) design is important.
By sticking to a small number of rules, you can make sure that your audience finds the great content in your digital sales proposal easy and enjoyable to read.
To maximize the readability and effectiveness of your microsite-hosted digital sales proposals, we recommend adhering to the following design tips:
- Aim to make your site as easy to navigate as possible
- Design with user experience (UX) in mind
- Remember that digital media like websites are mostly scanned rather than read
- Provide your users with a reliable and consistent experience
- Test to optimize your design
Let’s look into each of these points in more detail.
1. Make sure your site’s navigation is clear
One of the key gauges of usability and solid UX design is how easy the site is to navigate. If users are unable to find the information that they need, they are unlikely to spend much of their valuable time searching around for it.
And with sales proposals, the last thing you want is for your potential client to struggle to find your message. Clear navigation reduces drop-off, which can mean more sales and therefore higher revenue.
That’s why, if you’re building a digital sales proposal, making it easy for the various types of readers to find the content they need is an essential step.
After all, sales proposals are often passed around an organization and read by people from a range of backgrounds in a multitude of roles.
If you’re building a microsite rather than a static document, it’s likely that your proposal will be seen by team members in functions ranging from accounting, to finance, and from sales and HR all the way to the executive suite.
Because different departments are likely to be interested in different parts of the site, it’s important to think clearly about how to best organize the content on your website so that it reflects a logical hierarchy, or structure.
Research by Gerry McGovern suggests that good site navigation might be even more important than having a good search function on your site. According to research conducted by his team, seventy percent of test users started an online task by clicking on a link as their initial step. In contrast, only 30% of users began with a site’s search functionality.
To summarise, make sure that your site is organized according to a logical visual hierarchy. Link between pages in the right places. And make sure that your choice of navigation works correctly across all device types (e.g. desktop, mobile, and tablets of different sizes) by taking steps like implementing a hamburger menu rather than inline nav for small devices.
2. Design for user experience (UX)
It’s important to design websites while considering how people are likely to actually use them in reality. The same applies to digital sales proposals, marketing microsites, and similar products.
Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on speculation to know how. At Zoomforth, the team has drawn upon a considerable depth of design experience in working with companies to develop microsites in order to put together our site design best practices.
Some recommendations based upon these best practices include:
- Making sure that your site’s visual hierarchy reflects a logical organization of text, images, and other elements such as any embedded video
- Avoiding empty grid columns, which could be distracting for users
- Using enough whitespace around each element to prevent the website appearing overly crowded
Additionally, it’s also key to consider how users are going to be interacting with the content. For instance, it’s important to build responsive websites that look good whether they’re displayed on mobile or on desktop.
In some instances, you may be confident that your proposals are going to be read primarily on mobile devices or tablets. In such cases, you’ll want to make sure to test for usability on mobile.
Alternatively, If you’re including presentations on your microsite, you may want to make it as easy as possible for users to download that content for offline viewing, potentially as hard copy printouts. Make sure that there are enough well-placed download buttons on your site for file-based content.
Some people still prefer to print out documents that they download. Make sure you make it easy for them.
3. Remember websites are scanned (not read)
“People don’t read online.”
You’ve probably heard that countless times. And it’s true. People don’t read online, at least in the traditional sense. Rather, they skim. Research from the Nielsen Norman Group, among other studies, confirms this; 79% of users tested scanned a web page rather than reading it linearly.
To take account of this, those preparing online copy and other forms of content should follow a few best practices:
- Write in shorter paragraphs. These are easier to skim through than long reams of text
- Highlight keywords of particular significance
- Break up paragraphs into sections with plenty of subheadings
- Use shorter words, sentences, and paragraphs than you might in conventional writing
This doesn’t mean that everything you write has to be short and skimmable. Users can still embed resources for download. But copy that is going to be read in a web browser should follow these conventions.
If you can present your ideas more concisely with a few well chosen words, why wouldn’t you?
4. Provide users with a consistent experience
Users want a consistent and predictable user experience (UX) when visiting your website.
When online shoppers are adding items to their digital shopping cart, for instance, they expect their shopping cart to look like a shopping cart and be located in the top-right corner of the page.
There are conventions like this that people may not be consciously aware of but nonetheless intuitively understand for almost any task on a web page.
If those same users go to your microsite they’ll expect an online experience that their past browsing has prepared them for. Similarly, If your team sends multiple proposals, even to the same pool of recipients, you’ll want to make sure that the look and feel doesn’t vary too dramatically between builds.
In order to achieve this, you’ll want to firm up on exactly what your visual branding guidelines are. Design teams will often crystallize that in a formal visual branding guide that officially declares the font and color palette that the company will be using on all its online communications.
By using well configured templates as your starting point for each digital sales proposal, you can make sure you keep to the same conventions from site to site.
5. Test to optimize your design
Like most things marketing-related, there’s no need to rely on guesswork to figure out what works and what doesn’t for your website’s UX. There are plenty of excellent resources available to help you learn quality UX design principles, and these offer a good starting point for a non-specialist. You’ve already started by reading this post.
To take things further, you might want to:
- Run A/B testing on UX elements: A/B testing involves randomizing two variations of something and then seeing which performs better in relation to achieving your end goal. For a digital sales proposal, that might be as simple as an increase in sales, but it could also be more modest such as increased interaction with the page or more time spent engaging with it. Microsite designers could A/B test two versions of a site navigation menu, for instance, in order to determine which users have an easier time interacting with.
- Convene recorded UX testing sessions: Another popular option to help improve UX is to convene testing sessions. In these, users unfamiliar with your company and its offerings are recorded navigating through your site, sometimes commenting on what they like and don’t. Their behaviour is of even greater importance. All that’s required for this is screen recording software and a microphone. Those organizing the tests can use heatmap analytics to drill deeper into users’ engagement.
Better UX leads to better results
User experience (UX) is a vital part of developing effective digital sales proposals and digital products like websites more generally. Now that you’re familiar with these core concepts you’ve got a headstart in designing microsites, landing pages, and other digital documents that will impress those reading — or skimming — your content.
Create interactive, trackable and secure sales proposals with Zoomforth.