A black woman salesperson in a suit is talking on the phone while sitting at a desk, actively selling technology products.

Build a Website That Sells: A How To Guide

Table of Contents

Maximizing Sales through Effective Website Design

In the digital age, a website is more than just an online presence for your business; it’s your most potent tool for selling products and services. After listening to the design experts, SEO experts, experts of experts, we have to keep our eyes on the prize: the ultimate goal is to have a website that sells.

It seems simple, but I often must remind prospects and customers that their customers are more likely to see their website or other digital assets (like social media profiles, ads, etc.) before they see their physical locations.

It’s just a fact of modern life that’s easily forgotten or flat out ignored. We are so focused on what’s in front of us that we miss that stuff that matters most. It just the way the world works. (I have a friend who swept and mopped her store three times a day but hadn’t updated her website in years. Go figure. Aside: we got her on track. 😊)

Before we go too far down the online vs. offline business conversation, let’s level set a bit: No business can survive without sales, and no company can grow without new sales. As a business owner/leader, you are likely in the best position to determine what percentage of your resources you allocate to online vs. offline growth. Still, it’s doubtful today that zero investment online is the correct number if you’re trying to grow. There’s too much opportunity to ignore- even if you are a local service provider.

Okay, back to our program: building a website that sells. This article explores the art of digital persuasion and offers insights into designing a website that effectively showcases your offerings and entices visitors to purchase.

chart description how needs are addressed online

Getting Inside Their Heads: Know Your Audience:

Before diving into the technical aspects of web design, it’s crucial to understand your target audience. Let me be clear: unvalidated assumptions are the most frequent reason for product and business failure. This often skipped or assumed step has the highest risk impact on a business or product launch, but it’s rarely completed with flawed assumptions.

Selling a product or service starts with understanding a prospect’s pains, wants, needs, emotions, the impact of not solving their problems, the price they are willing to pay for it, what they expect to gain by changing their behavior, etc.

All of this falls under the continuous process (for the life of the business or product) of target audience research. Knowing your audience allows you to tailor everything from:

  • the company you build,
  • how you talk about it in the content you publish,
  • how you speak about it on your website,
  • how you sell it offline,

Times change, and people change, and so do buyers and their preferences. You should have an active, ongoing process to collect data and insights about your audience through surveys, interviews, analytics, and customer feedback. These learnings should be fed into your web assets, reflecting their current thinking and needs- preferably in their own words.

chart about startup failures

Website Navigation: Making It a Breeze for Your Visitors

First Rule of Fight Club…make it easy to find what you have to offer your visitor. They are there for a reason. Hopefully, it’s to buy your product and service, but you’ll never find out if you make navigating difficult for them.

User-friendly navigation is the backbone of an effective website. Visitors should be able to find what they’re looking for effortlessly. Organize your content logically, implement clear menus, and ensure your website is mobile-responsive.

A seamless user experience encourages exploration and increases the likelihood of conversion. Think of it like this: you would make it easy to navigate your store to see all your products or your restaurant to create a pleasing ambiance. Take the same approach with your website’s navigation.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Sales: Visual Mastery for Your Website

Website photography is a tricky one. First impressions matter, and visuals play a significant role, but I’m unsure how much to invest in professional photography- and when. I advise this: if you are in the early phase and working on a budget, focus on authenticity.

This can be achieved with a good smartphone camera. As you grow and the business can afford to invest in professional photography, then do so, but keep it authentic. People want to see you, your products, your people, and your company culture.

They don’t want to see stock photos or expertly photography that looks like stock photos. Pay attention to color psychology and font choices; these elements can convey trustworthiness and professionalism.

From Bland to Grand: The Magic of Persuasive Product Descriptions

The heart of your website lies in the product or service you’re offering. Your job is to connect your visitor’s problem with your service or product through web copy or blog content. Craft persuasive descriptions that highlight the benefits and features.

Use persuasive language, and demonstrate how your offering solves your customers’ problems or fulfills their desires. Engaging descriptions encourage visitors to take the next step.

Lastly, I’ll offer the secret sauce: web copy should be short and connect to pains using emotions. Say just enough and not a word more. Blogs are where we explain the details. Go deep and show that you know your stuff.

Answer every question any customer can have about your business. Marcus Sheridan wrote a great book about this: “They Ask, You Answer.”

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Brainstorm every question you’ve ever been asked by a prospect or customer. Focus on their fears, issues, concerns, and worries. State them on paper exactly as the buyer would ask (or search) them, not the way you (as the business) would state them… Note: If you struggle coming up with these questions, there’s a frank reason why—you’ve lost touch with your ideal customer or client.”

Marcus Sheridan

Cheers from the Crowd: Harnessing the Power of Social Proof

Social proof is a big one, especially for small businesses. It impacts many things, from SEO to sales, but it’s often ignored and treated like a minor thing. Social proof is a powerful persuader. It is also important to customers. It is a requirement for them to take your product or business seriously [ queue magic bag of data]

websites that sell random stats

In short, getting testimonials and reviews after the sale is as important as identifying needs and contact information before the sale. Showcase genuine customer reviews and testimonials prominently on your website, as these authentic endorsements build trust and reassure potential buyers.

Websites That Sell: Crafting CTAs That Seal the Deal

I often get “we don’t get much online business” when talking to business owners and leaders. Once we get under the hood, we notice that the website is designed to be a brochure, not a sales tool. Not creating to sell is a mistake; according to the numbers, many small businesses are making the same mistake.

Here’s the thing: if you want someone to do something while on your site, you have to ask them to do it and provide a strong enough reason for them to do it. That’s essentially what a call to action is. It’s your way of ushering your visitor to the chair you want them to be seated in.

Strategically placed and persuasive CTAs are vital for conversions. Use action-oriented language and design visually appealing buttons or links. Encourage visitors to take specific actions, whether purchasing, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting more information. Your customers won’t do anything you don’t ask them to.

One-Click Wonderland: The Art of a Hassle-Free Checkout

What single “invention” was most responsible for Amazon’s early success? Most experts would say: the one-click purchase. It’s a great read if you’re into that type of thing, but ultimately, removing all barriers to purchasing on your website is essential.

This one is only relevant if you plan to sell products online (but it’s the same in the offline sales process, too), but ultimately, your goal is to convert visitors into customers.

Your ongoing goal is to remove all friction on the webpage: restrictions, missing information, asking for too much information, etc. All are points of friction. The big one here is the checkout process: an easy and secure one is critical. Here are a few things to focus on:

  • Minimize steps from check out to thank you page,
  • offer various payment options,
  • display trust badges to assure customers of a safe transaction.

This one is pretty simple: reduce cart abandonment rates by making the process as frictionless as possible.

Trust Is the Must: Building Websites that Sell Trust Signals

Trust signals, such as SSL certificates, security badges, and privacy policies, build credibility. Display them prominently to reassure visitors that their data is safe with you.

Transparency and a commitment to data security can go a long way in building trust. This always seems like overhead, but customers are looking for these things- especially if they have experienced online fraud.


If you a website that sells, keep your website “sales-ready.” That requires understanding your audience, designing for usability, and persuading visitors to act.

Remember that your website’s primary purpose is to sell your products and services effectively- branding is a secondary, albeit necessary thing.

By implementing these strategies and continuously optimizing your site, you can increase your chances of online business success.

author avatar
DKeith Wilson Founder Senior Consultant
DKeith Wilson, founder of ytechnology, melds technical skill with strategic marketing acumen. A certified Scrum Master and Product Owner, he's also adept in Google Analytics and Meta's digital marketing. His '4P' philosophy—People, Passion, Purpose, Push—guides his leadership. DKeith aims to transform ytechnology into a key resource for small to mid-sized businesses, leveraging his expertise in project and product management, M&A due diligence, and operations management.

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