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Newsletter #839: The “Ideas from Smart Websites” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Even with all the social networking tools that come out every day, a great website is still an important home base. A few ideas on how to improve yours:

1. Your forms can be better
2. Your search can be more useful
3. Your content can be more helpful
4. Check it out: Brand Reversions

1. Your forms can be better

In the internet world, forms are too often the forgotten land of clunkiness, robotic copywriting, and ugly formatting. But your forms don’t have to be this way. When car dealership sites like Vast and Kelley Blue Book began replacing their traditional contact form with a more conversational, mad lib-style form, they increased conversion rates by 25-40 percent. Not only do the forms look and read better, but they create more sales, too.

The lesson: When was the last time you filled out one of the forms on your website? How inviting and straightforward was the process?

Learn more: LukeW

2. Your search can be more useful

How people search for and discover the content they’re looking for on your site is a fundamental part of the customer experience. Have you seen Jen Bekman’s 20×200 site? Besides being a great place to find amazing things to hang on your walls, there’s also a lot of smart web design going on. Her search, for example, features the categories you might expect — things like animals, landscapes, and sports. But then there’s also this option: “Search by color.” Just imagine how many hours this feature has saved people looking for that perfect piece to complete their living room.

The lesson: Search isn’t all about keywords and SEO. It’s about imagining the problems your customers face and giving them easy ways to sort through and find solutions to them.

Learn more: 20×200

3. Your content can be more helpful

Most corporate websites are built with the same thinking that went into the tri-fold brochures that preceded them two decades ago. Lots of marketing copy, some pretty photos, and contact info. And for plenty of companies, that makes a lot of sense. But Cheerios proves that’s not always the case. Their new site focuses on being a hub of answers for questions people commonly have. Right on the homepage, they’re responding to questions like, “How old do children have to be to eat Cheerios?” and “Are Cheerios healthy?”.

The lesson: Maybe your online visitors don’t need a marketing pitch — maybe they just need a few quick, honest answers.

Learn more: Brandflakes for Breakfast

4. Brand Reversions

Almost like looking into some parallel universe, check out these identity swaps that blend competing brands into new logos.

Learn more: I’m Just Creative


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