Schissel Design

Joann Schissel, Certified Usability Analyst

Website sales funnel simply explained

website sales funnel

I’ve had a few customers ask me what I mean by the terms “conversion” and “sales funnel.” There are many infographics out there that demonstrate the concept, but a lot of them are overly complex. I created this infographic to explain what it is in an easy-to-understand graphic. Feel free to share this on social media.


Does your website have hidden usability problems?

Top five usability issues

Your potential customer probably won’t tell you why their visit to your site was abandoned shortly after they landed on the home page. They may not even be able express why they found it unappealing, untrustworthy, or just downright frustrating because it’s not something they can consciously explain. Why do some websites engage their customer and produce conversions while others languish virtually ignored? Here are some usability rules of thumb for making your website look and function in ways that will offer your customer a great visitor experience.


The homepage should clearly demonstrate your value proposition and identity. If the visitor doesn’t understand what you do or who you are, they won’t be able to click the exit page button fast enough. Your visitor doesn’t have the time or patience to figure out what you want to convey, they’ll just head to your competitor’s site.


One of the biggest issues with many websites is the lack of navigation that supports a comprehensible architecture. Visitors want to be able to find the desired information quickly and easily using their own sense of vocabulary. Many business owners tend to build their website navigational labels and sections to align with their internal systems and company jargon instead of viewing it from the perspective of the customer that doesn’t know or care about the company structure and company-specific terms.


Content refers to text, graphics, images, videos, or any elements that help satisfy the informational needs of the visitor. Content not only has to be presented well visually, but also have meaningful information that has value to the visitor. Content should be organized in distinctive, descriptive, and balanced categories. This allows the visitor to find information quickly.

The editorial style and tone needs to have a consistent branding voice and offer useful and concise information that guides the visitor toward conversions without “selling” to them. No one will read bloated, self-congratulatory text about how great you think you are. Instead, this “happy talk” needs to be replaced with information that builds genuine trust with your customer.


The presentation of the webpage refers to how it is laid out, use of colors, graphics and typography. The layout should have a balance of consistency and variety. Information should be grouped using a grid structure (horizontal and vertical alignment points) that creates a sense of order and space.

Use colors that reinforce your brand and associate you with your product. If your product identity does not include yellow in any branding, then your website probably should not have bright yellow as the main background color. Colors can emphasize information and bring attention to a section, but be sensitive to using color in a way that can hinder readability or accessibility for vision-impaired visitors.

Graphics include photos, diagrams, illustrations, infographics and any kind of visual content that help explain or enhance your message. Graphics used on the web need to be optimized for viewing on a screen which means they need to be a high quality visually, but have a small file size for fast download.

Typography is how type is used on the page. It is important to maintain a clear hierarchy of text consisting of headings, body text, footer, and captions. Heading sizes can also be an important consideration in accessibility when a visitor is using assistive technology such as a screen reader.  Use headings largest to smallest and don’t mix up headings in unpredictable ways. Use bold or italic attributes sparingly. The question of using a serif or san serif font is not as important as keeping good legibility, whatever web font you decide to use. Contrast is needed between the text and the background in order to make it easy to read.


Website visitors demand seamless interaction when trying to accomplish tasks on your site. Use conventional clues that visitors are used to seeing. For example, if you want visitors to click on a text or image, be sure it fits the mental model of something that would be clickable. For example, a large button shape with the word “submit” would most likely be understood as a clickable action that will send your form or message to a receiving destination. Good feedback on success of the action (thank you for your response) or failure of an action (please complete required information) will assure the visitor has performed the task correctly or needs to adjust something.

Being aware of usability issues and making corrections to those issues can make the difference between a good visitor experience and a poor one. Good visitor experiences are much more likely to result in customer conversions and higher ROI.

For a expert review of your website contact Joann Schissel, Certified Usability Analyst (CUA), and find out how your site can produce better visitor experiences.

What Marketing has Taught Me About Storytelling and Visa-versa

I’ve worked in marketing in some form or another for many years. Many times I was presented with the importance of a good story to provide a memorable experience to the customer. I understood this concept, but often wondered what constitutes a good story and how can I incorporate it in my marketing strategy approach. To find out, I didn’t seek out more marketing or business training resources (although those are useful for ongoing learning). Instead, I joined a story telling group. This group was very small but active in my local community.  They based their mission on the ancient art of storytelling in the oral tradition. I wasn’t sure what I would learn from this, but it intrigued me to find a connection between what has been the oldest form of communication since the dawn of humans and our modern society.

Comparing a good story with good marketing

There are plenty of similarities between telling a story around the ancient campfire and contemporary marketing techniques. Both have the purpose to inform, entertain, and/or persuade. A good story will convey a lesson or moral. Ancient Greeks told tales of warrior bravery and cunning with the story of the Trojan Horse and the United States Air Force devotes their website to stories about the same thing.

Grab attention from the start

If your story/message doesn’t garner attention right away, you’ll lose the interest of your audience within a few seconds. With constant bombardment of millions of messages and stimuli around us every minute, listeners have short attention spans. Create a “hook” to your story that will draw listeners into the narrative.

Have a beginning, middle and end

All well crafted stories have a beginning, middle and end. Narratives that follow a structure are much more interesting than just listing a series of events or a reciting product benefits. Storytellers/Marketers need to set the stage in the beginning to peak interest, have conflict and tension arise that is presented in the middle, then resolved in the end. The ending offers the lesson or moral. This lesson or moral should drive the audience/customer to rethink a problem, choice or mindset in a different way and therefore take a desired action.

Show/tell something remarkable

In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Burger states “Something can be remarkable because it is novel, surprising, extreme, or just plan interesting. But the most important aspect of remarkable things is that they are worthy of remark.” When crafting your story/message think about the product that could do something no one thought was possible, or a hero that that went to an extreme to accomplish something.

Make the audience care by using emotion in the story

Audiences connect to your story through emotion. Berger explains “Emotions drive people to action. They make us laugh, shout, and cry, and they make us talk, share and buy.” Emotional connection is demonstrated in the Budweiser commercials featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales.  The “Puppy Love” ad boasted a whopping 53 million YouTube views and counting. The Clydesdales also provide 89% consumer recall. When your story/message contains emotion, it will be enjoyed, remembered and shared more than those that don’t.

Whether you are an oral storyteller performing on a stage or a marketer looking to make an impact, stories provide the vehicle to engage your audience. Stories should grab attention within a few seconds. Have the story structured with a beginning, middle and end. Tell something remarkable and use emotion to make it memorable.

Secrets of creating contagious content

There is a new mindset that is changing the way brands are recognized and promoted. Instead of focusing simply on social media to promote your product, direct your efforts on producing “social currency.” It’s a concept based on the idea that information has value. When you share, tweet or like a news item, video or story, that item has some level of value and therefore social influence. When a lot of people respond to that content, it can generate or promote a brand identity. It becomes contagious.

Why infographics are becoming so popular

Infographics, also known as data visualization or information design, is a recent trend that has been growing in popularity for web content. Using visuals for quickly grasping an idea is not new. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true. What has changed is the rapid rate of information proliferation. We have to be able to scan and understand data in a minimal amount of time. Infographics is one technique that allows data to be deciphered in a compelling and attractive presentation. Charts, tables and graphics can be combined to tell a visual story in a logical flow. Appropriate color scheme, attractive layout and accurate information contribute to a well-designed infographic. These types of presentations can promote brand awareness by reinforcing recognition of a company’s logo and image. Topics for infographics can range from the mundane to the complex.

Using infographics seems to be good for increasing search engine optimization, too. Publishers that use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who do not use infographics. One reason for this may be because it is easy to share and increases the possibilities of being seen by many more visitors and maybe even go viral. Here’s some samples of infographics.

Consider using an infographic for your website or upcoming presentation.