Give Them (Limited) Choices
To create a website that moves your visitors in a natural way toward the choices you want them to take, one of the first things you should evaluate is the number of clicks necessary to get them from Point A, when they first arrive at your website or blog, to Point B, where they've completed a purchase or filled out a form. People like to feel as though they've made an independent choice among several options because it empowers them and gives them confidence in their decisions. Despite this, the reality is that when people are presented with too many choices, they are less likely to choose at all. This means your website needs to be essentially devoid of any unnecessary options (clicks) that do not push the visitor toward the goal you want them to reach.
Reduce the Clutter
The most essential part of your website design is, of course, the call-to-action. Where and how you use them on your website has been a topic of fierce debate for quite some time with both sides arguing for the "right" way to insert a CTA. However, there is no question that using CTA's is a vital part of an effective website design. When you give your visitors a multitude of options or several different CTAs that lead them (through various roundabout ways) to an ultimate goal, you are creating unnecessary clutter. This clutter is distracting to your site's visitors and can create confusion when it comes to deciding what they should click, and the more clicks required to reach their goal, the less likely they are to continue clicking.
See Also: Pretty Websites Are Nice, Websites Optimized For Conversion Are Better
Make It Easy
An effective website design should incorporate elements that capture the attention of your visitors without presenting them with too much information, in both images and text, that they get lost in the "fine print" and lose sight of the ultimate goal - making a purchase or requesting more information. After all, they arrived at your website for a reason, and your job is to give them what they are searching for and with as few steps as possible. Just make sure you're doing so in a way that makes it seem like there is no logical alternative other than to follow the bread crumbs you've carefully placed to lead them in the right direction.
Building a new website or redesigning an older one can be a daunting task, so don't overwhelm yourself with things that don't really matter. Getting your visitors the information they need and pushing them through to conversion are the most important aspects of an effective website, everything else will come naturally!
Looking for a fresh start with your website? Be sure to check out our Website Design services page or send us a note, we're eager to connect with you and learn more about your project!