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By: Ramona Sukhraj on March 30th, 2016

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Website Throwdown Recap: Honest Critiques with HubSpot’s Austin Knight

Design | Strategy

website-throwdown-with-hubspots-austin-knight-recapLast week, we welcomed HubSpot UX Designer, speaker, and author, Austin Knight to Website Throwdown to tear apart a new batch of user-submitted websites.

Overseeing the user experience of HubSpot.com, INBOUND.com, the HubSpot blog, and a number of other platforms, Austin had a wealth of marketing, UX, and design knowledge to share with audiences -- so much that our broadcast ran for an unprecedented 1 hour and 45 minutes. (No joke.)

In case you missed the record-breaking episode (watch it below), here’s a recap of some of its biggest lessons.

1. Humanize Your Brand

In an online market, it’s easy to lose the human element that comes with  traditional transactions. Major shopping and purchases are made without ever hearing the voice or seeing the face of another human being, making it so much harder to build the trust needed to close a deal.

People are wary to do business with individuals they’ve never seen before. That’s why you need to humanize your brand. Share photos of your actual team members. This will help increase your credibility and make prospects feel more comfortable knowing there is someone on the other end of the line. Our friends at SoolNua nailed this on their homepage, prompting the tweet above.

2. Proof Before You Publish

Everyone makes mistakes, but when in the business world, they can be much harder to recover from. In fact, according to a study of 1,000 consumers in the UK, the thing people hate most about brands on social media is poor spelling or grammar.

So, make sure to proofread before you publish! Consistently poor grammar or large prominent mistakes can make you look unprofessional and careless, and with your website often being the first interaction someone has with your brand, you want to leave a good impression.

If you’re prone to spelling errors or typos, or would just like an extra safety net, give Grammar.ly a try. It’s free on the Chrome browser and works in most publishing platforms (including HubSpot.)

3. Incorporate Social Proof

One the best and worst things about the internet is that you say and claim to be whatever you want to be, but that doesn’t mean consumers will believe it.

To build credibility and increase trust, use social proof to support your claims. Social proof can include:

  • Testimonials/Reviews

  • Social Followings

  • Awards

  • Industry Affiliates

  • Certifications

4. Align Your Imagery & Copy

A picture is worth a thousand words, but only if it’s saying what you want it to.

When supplementing your value proposition or another marketing message with a visual, make sure that it is delivering the same sentiment as your words. For example, if you’re environmental company, opt for images of nature over urban skylines. This will help sure that both your images and copy to elicit the same emotions and encourage the same action.  

5. Optimize for Mobile

With so many people browsing websites on-the-go, your brand cannot overlook the importance of optimizing for mobile. Not only is mobile optimization integral to providing a consistent and pleasant user experience, but it is also a major contributing factor in Google’s search ranks.

While HubSpot makes this easy for users of it’s platform there are several other tools available for non-users. Below are a few examples Austin shared with audiences to help them offer the best mobile experiences possible.

Flexible.gs

It’s important to test your website on a variety of screen sizes, even the extremes, such as a widescreen monitor or a small smartphone. Flexible.gs gives you the opportunity to optimize your website for these and other devices you may not see frequently.

The largest screen size the site allows you to test is a laptop so if you are looking to view your website in something larger, or, on a specific type of device, you may want to visit the next website suggested by Austin.

Screenfly

Like Flexible.gs, Screenfly allows you to test your website at different screen resolutions, but offers a wider selection of options and even lets you test on specific virtual devices (i.e. iPhone 5, Kindle, Samsung Galaxy s5).

Don’t see a resolution that works for you? You can choose a custom one by entering the dimensions and rotating the screen to view it in any way you desire.

If you happen to find an issue and you want to show it to someone, Screenfly will also generate a share link for you (including the exact conditions you viewed the site in).

Quirktools also has a few other interesting tools that may come in handy, such as a wireframing and sitemap creator. Try checking them out if you are just beginning to redesign your website and want some tools that may help speed up your process.

Viewport Resizer

Last, but not least, Viewport Resizer is a Chrome extension that will display the viewport size of your browser window as it’s resized and also gives you options to view your site on specific virtual devices like Screenfly. This tool is easy-to-use and convenient for people who would rather not jump from site to site testing.

6. Ditch the Carousel!

If you’ve watched a Website Throwdown before, you’ve heard us say it dozens of times: Ditch the carousel! Website carousels or “sliders” were extremely popular just a few short years ago, but as pointed out by Austin a quick visit to shouldiuseacarousel.com will explain why their time has passed. Here are just a few of the points made on the site:

“Almost all of the testing I’ve managed has proven content delivered via carousels to be missed by users. Few interact with them.” - Adam Fellowes

“Carousels pose accessibility issues for keyboard and screen reader users that simply cannot be adequately addressed by markup or hacks. Carousels are this decade's <blink> tag.” - Jared Smith

Join Us Ringside! 

IMPACT jumps in the ring every month and next month, we’re honored to have HubSpot’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kipp Bodnar, joining us as our featured guest!

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016
2:00PM EST

Submit your site here or click the button below for the chance to critiqued live on the air by Kipp and the rest of our marketing experts!

While not all submissions can make the broadcast, all viewers gain valuable marketing, UX, and design insight they can adapt to their website strategy right away. So, join us!

Also, make sure to join the conversation on Twitter using #WebsiteThrowdown.

I’ll see you ringside!

website-throwdown-hubspot-cmo-kipp-bodnar-april-2016

About Ramona Sukhraj

As Content Marketing Manager, Ramona approaches marketing not only as a profession, but as a creative outlet. She has a passion for all things artistic and strives to create content that is educational, yet quirky and entertaining as well. With a B.S. in Marketing from the UCONN School of Business, Ramona is a frequent contributor to the HubSpot blog and a nonprofit consultant. Outside of IMPACT, she is a design, movie, and pop culture buff, and a fierce advocate of free hugs.

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