Whether you are designing your first site, or even if you are just redesigning your site, there is a lot you are going to want to keep in mind. Search engines to a large extent have changed what is necessary for an effective website, and even users are savvier and have come to expect a certain level of usability, speed and professionalism. Long gone are the days when simply having a website was enough. Today you need to have a great website. A great website will inevitably increase your customer base, improve sales and increase your brand awareness. What makes a great website though? To be sure there are a lot of examples of terrible websites out there; there are some good sites as well. Here are the 5 things every great website kept in mind during design, and where every ineffective website went wrong, one place or another.
- What you are saying to them – Content is the single most important part of the actual selling of your product or service. There is not a graphic or slick design on earth that can make up for poor grammar, spelling and syntax. Having an English teach edit your site is not enough though, you need to sell. Your content has to be persuasive, interesting, unique and at the very same time concise. You need to evoke some emotion. Which emotion varies by the product or service, but it has to be there. It needs to focus on the benefits to the consumer. You need to have memorable and powerful taglines, headlines and a great call to action. It also has to remain professional… except when it shouldn’t be professional and a good sales writer will know the difference. Ignoring the actual words on the page, and putting all of your effort into what your site looks like is a huge mistake, but one a lot of businesses make.
- Layout – The conundrum is people are used to maybe half a dozen general layouts, yet at the same time your layout has to stand apart. This is part of the challenge of design, and it can be done. As your layout is developed, do not get too caught up in being different. The most important elements are simplicity, ease of navigation, a fast webpage. Make sure there is not clutter. Make sure each idea on any given page is separate, and make sure the eye is first drawn to the most important elements you want to convey. Where you will get creative is in the messaging, colors, images, etc.
- Which colors to use – Most likely your business has colors you generally use and these are part of your logo. If the colors are good, fantastic. If they are ugly don’t use them for your website. It’s okay if your logo doesn’t “match” your website… better sometimes in fact. Consider learning about colors or make sure your designer does. Specific colors elicit specific reactions, reactions that may be beneficial to your business. Are you trying to convey experience? Stability? Excitement? Colors matter. Have you noticed nearly every successful fast food restaurant uses red and yellow? This isn’t a coincidence. Yellow and red make us hungry on some subconscious level. Find out which colors will help your business.
- Coding – Search engines are paying close attention to this. Optimize your coding including images,Meta tags, etc. That means use mostly HTML and little if any Flash for your site.
- Make sure your site is fast – Web browsers have little patience, and there were probably 10 other businesses in their area selling what they were looking for when they pulled up a search, 10 that won’t make them wait for the site to load. Don’t make them wait. Your site should pull up fast even on slow browsers… this is another reason to avoid Flash whenever possible or at least limit it.