When designing a website, it is important to think about product awareness and how the visual presentation will impact a user or potential customer.
What can you do to ensure that website visitors will better understand, recognize and want a product?
It starts with having a clear understanding the 5 stages of product awareness and the customer buying cycle. With this information, you can use specific design techniques to keep a product or website top of mind so that visitors are likely to return.
Stages of product awareness
Product awareness doesn’t just happen by chance. There’s a specific, scientific cycle that occurs when someone first recognizes a product or brand.
Awareness: An individual recognizes a problem or need and comes to find a potential solution by knowing a product or brand exists
- Consideration: The individual researches potential solutions and will likely visit your website or connect online in another way (such as social media)
- Intent: The individual makes a connection with a certain product or brand
- Purchase: The individual orders a product
- Repurchase: The individual orders a product again
Your design choices can influence every stage in this process, making it important to create content and a visual story to which users can relate.
Design for awareness
Connecting with a user in the product awareness stage can be tricky. You need to have a product or brand that does something a potential customer or user needs.
Most likely they will seek information via online search, which means your first step in designing for product awareness should be to optimize your website content for the type of users you hope to capture.
- Research keywords related to your product and brand: What problem does your product offer a solution to? How would you search to find an answer to that solution?
- Create content that connects with users searching for those elements: Think about the research questions. Your website design should clearly outline the answers, using words that people associate with that type of product. Create content that addresses potential solutions, such as a tutorial or how-to guide.
- Sell the benefit of your product over the competition: From color to typography choices, you must create a case for your product over others. That’s why great website design is so important. It creates a sense of legitimacy and first impression that users (ideally) connect with.
- Create trust with a design and user flow that is clean, structured and easy to navigate: Every element in the design should flow toward a common goal of encouraging the user to make a purchase. A clean design that’s free of errors (in grammar and function) helps establish trust between your website and the user. Other design elements that can build trust include simple serif or sans serif typefaces, colors such as blue or neutrals, testimonials, product photos and information, and completeness of information.
- Encourage users to give you something, such as their email address, so you can reconnect: Most users don’t complete the sales cycle on the first visit. Encourage users to stay engaged with you by offering a promotion in exchange for signing up for an email newsletter or interacting on related social media pages.
Design for consideration
Your product must be the solution to a customer’s pain. And they have to understand that.
Use design elements, such as simple charts, that show a comparison between your product and another, or price tables to show user options.
The design should provide everything someone needs to make a choice without having to go elsewhere to find more information about your product or other similar offerings.
Design for intent
Once someone is aware of your product, the design should promote continued awareness and engagement. The intent stage is when the customer makes decisions about what brand to create a relationship with.
Keep your brand or product top of mind by using a few different design techniques:
- Create an emotional connection with users: Images of your product with actual users can go a long way
- Keep showing the product: You don’t have to have oversized product images on every page of the website design, but make sure that it is included in some way (even as a small item in a larger photo)
- Be ready for questions: Include a chat option in the design, so potential customers can ask questions and make decisions more quickly
- Do something unexpected: Remind users why your brand or product is different with color, use options or just a slightly different take than your competitors
Design for purchase
While every other step in the sales process is pretty important, what you really care about is whether users actually convert. It shows that not only did you create product awareness, but also created a new customer.
Design elements can make or break this chain. But there are a few things you can do to maintain product awareness and, eventually, close the deal.
- Keep cart and checkout information on the screen (and visible) at all times; the top right corner is a popular location
- Provide an easy checkout with a guest checkout option
- Only ask for information that you have to have in checkout forms and make sure fields are clearly labeled
- Include totals, subtotals and items throughout the process (Gap, above, keeps all relevant information in a right checkout sidebar and reminds users of discounted prices)
- Use large, easy-to-see buttons for key steps, such as submitting the order
Design for Repurchase
After someone makes a purchase, keep in touch with them via email or social media content with a design that’s similar to the website. That visual connection serves as a reminder of your brand and the value it provided.
Ask users for feedback so they feel invested in the brand and encourage continued engagement, even if it isn’t always a purchase. Offer a review or ratings portal in the website design or ask users to post pictures of themselves with the product on social media with a fun hashtag to create a sense of community (linking back to the emotional connection your brand established in the intent stage).
Product awareness is more than just helping someone understand your brand or website exists. It’s about creating a funnel through the sales cycle so that your website design includes clear information about how your product solves a problem.
Then, it makes access to all the information necessary to make a decision and solve a problem easy to find and understand. It should look and feel trustworthy, connect with users emotionally so it continues to stay top of mind.