You’re losing clients by committing this one critical web site mistake

Lately, I’ve been reviewing and critiquing a lot of design business and portfolio web sites (get yours critiqued here).

There’s one critical mistake that A LOT of designers are making – and it’s losing them clients!

It’s not a hard thing to fix, and it’s not even time consuming. It can be fixed within a few minutes–in fact, you should do it today!

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And if you do it, I guarantee you conversion rates on your design business web site will go up.

They’ll have to.

So what’s the big mistake?

It’s simple: There’s no call to action.

As I’ve looked around a lot of design business sites, I’ve noticed a few common trends:

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  • Our sites look beautiful. Of course they do, right? I mean, after all, we’re designers! Most portfolio sites I look at have a good layout, nice font choice, excellent color, etc.But it’s hard for your clients to want to start a relationship with you based solely on appearance (can you blame them?).They need an invitation to act.
  • Our portfolio looks great. Most of us designers are really good at representing our best work in our portfolios. We keep it updated, we add new projects and delete old ones.But after the client is done looking at your portfolio, don’t make them search around for a contact page or a twitter link. Call them to action and then make taking action easy right at the bottom of your portfolio.

Just one click away

Remember, when anyone (especially a client who just happened to find you via a google search) visits your site they’re only one click away from leaving your site forever and never coming back.

What are you doing to encourage them to stay on your site and, more importantly, hire you for their next design job?

Stop losing clients!

Here are a few suggestions for designers who want to stop losing clients:

  1. Include mini-contact forms wherever you can. That means at the bottom of your portfolio, on your home page, after each blog post, and multiple times on your about page.
  2. Make call to action buttons big and impossible to ignore. The second a client decides he wants to hire you, there should be a very obvious place to get in touch with you. Don’t make them search for a discrete contact page or navigate all your pages looking for an email address.You want them to notice your call to action button BEFORE they make the decision to hire you so that when they do make the decision, they know just where to go!
  3. Don’t use “email me” links–use forms instead. If you’d like to give your email address out, that’s fine. But you should include more than just an “email me” link on your site.On your contact page, and throughout your site, include actual forms that will allow your site visitors to contact you (see point 1).
  4. Step out of your confort zone. You might feel like it’s too assertive to include multiple contact forms, giant call-to-action buttons, and forms on every page.Stop worrying about it.Your site visitors are there to check out your work and possibly hire you.They know that’s what your site is about. Imagine if you went to the grocery store and the store manager thought it was too presumptuous to put the cash registers right at the front of the store, or thought it might annoy customers to highlight sales and lower prices on particular items.Crazy!

“If people want to hire me, they will” – WRONG!

In addition to being a designer, I have been in advertising and marketing for a long time. And if you think your potential customers are all going to search around and make the decision to get in touch with you just because your work is phenomenal you’re wrong!

Sure, there will be a few here or there. You’ll probably get some good work from your site.

But if you really want to kill it…and I mean boost your conversion rates through the roof… then you HAVE to call them to action.

For more tips like this one…

I plan on sharing a whole lot of tips like this one today as I continue to critique designers’ sites. If you want to get the latest tips and killer advice inspired by real-life portfolios that I’m critiquing, then sign up for the Millo newsletter and you won’t miss a beat! (plus, all subscribers get a free ebook)

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I want to see your calls to action

Leave a comment on this post and let me see what you’ve got on your site to call your clients to action. Leave a link to your portfolio site and tell me what you’re doing to call your clients to action!

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  1. We’ve had excellent success with our contact form. It’s concise and works properly. We always respond to the customer the same day or next day. Emir, Which UX Agency are you referring to? Don’t make me think.

    1. I think that’s key – quick, user-friendly customer service. We live in an instant gratification society and if they don’t hear back, they get upset. If I get emails from my site, even if I cannot deal with it right now, I let them know I received the email.

  2. Great idea!

    Not just for my site but for a client’s that Im working on and have an empty spot that is throwing off my grid.


  3. Excellent piece but actually I disagree a little. While it’s good to have CTA’s, it comes to a point whereby it’s all over the place and gets a little on the offensive. This is when it starts looking ‘hard sell’ all the way.

    We do believe that if your reputation is ace, people who genuinely want to hire you will go all out to find you. Even if what you have is just a namecard with a phone number on it. They will call you, they will want to meet you. They are looking for the best and have already sold themselves to what they have heard about you.

  4. A CTA is good advice. As an aside, I hate when people use trite headlines like “Hi, I’m a web designer.” That does nothing but make you look uncreative.

    Nice article!

  5. Excellent article. I like the mini contact forms idea very much.

    You have a tiny typo in the piece – ‘confort’ as opposed to the correct ‘comfort’.

  6. We’ve all filed out those forms on websites and gotten no response back… I prefer to email directly so I have a record of what my part in the communication was.

  7. Wrong.

    Contact forms are actually horrible.

    People don’t know if it actually works.
    They send in a inquiry through a contact form and if they don’t get a reply within 24 hours, they try again or they go find another designer who has his email properly displayed on his website.

    Forms = Bad.

    This is all from a study done by a UX Agency.

    Also. “Several times on your about page”.
    You’re serious? If your about page has so much copy that you can fill it with multiple contact forms, then you might want to consider having a look around at a few proper portfolio sites to find out how clueless you are.

  8. Creating your own site is sooo much harder than creating a site for someone else. I definitely will work this tip into my own design though. At the moment my site is still in the design phase, but I’m getting close!

  9. I’m new here, but I feel like I can’t do without your posts already…this is great!

  10. Excellent point, Preston! I see this all the time, too. I’m working on my home page specifically to have a strong call to action, and that’s why it’s taking so long to create! I want it to be clever and brilliant. 🙂

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