Website Design: 5 Robust Rules |
For website design to be useful one clearly must pay close attention to the details. There is no reason to dismiss the meme, 'the devil is in the details.' In this article I write about five important gross details that deserve consideration.
1) Think Carefully About Splash Pages in Website Design
Technically one's homepage is a splash page. It is the first page one sees when going to your site. But the term splash page or landing page has taken on an entirely new meaning. In its normal use a splash page serves the purpose of 'selling,' of getting a visitor to act. It could be you want to build a mailing list, in which case you offer a free gift in exchange for a name and email address. You may want someone to buy your product, much like the hard sell of a used car salesman. In both these cases a 'splash page' makes sense. But if your business does not cater to these two exceptions, your home page should be informative and nothing more. Evaluate your purpose for having a website and then decide what your home page ought to look like.
2) Do not use banner advertisements in website design
Like splash pages, pages that use banner advertising tend to look and feel cheap. But, just like with splash pages, there are some exceptions to this general rule. If your site is a comparison site, say comparing web hosting companies, then banner ads with your review attached makes sense. If, say, you are running an eZine site, then outside advertising makes sense. Otherwise outside advertising takes away from your message and must be left out completely.
3) Web Design Must Have simple, clear navigation
There is nothing so frustrating as going to a website and not being able to easily navigate the site. That happened to me the other day when I needed to contact my internet provider. All I wanted was a phone number. Yikes, I must have been there for 15 minutes before I happened on the number. This should have been simple. Had I not needed the number I would have clicked off that site in a matter of under one minute.
Your navigation must be so simple that even a five-year-old can use it. You don't need fancy menus or gimmicks to find your way around. A simple, clear design, one that is user friendly and misses nothing important, is ideal. Make sure you tell your designer that this is what you want.
4) Good Web Design Identifies Exactly Where One Is Website design ought to make it easy for the user to know exactly where one is at all times. This is another way of making it easy to navigate the site so that your visitor with a limited attention span will not simply give up. That is your worst nightmare when it comes to website design. Making your visitor want to stay on your pages means that you have a chance of influencing that visitor to act favorably toward you.
5) Avoid using audio/video on your site
Powerful website design means that you keep your design clean. It also means that you should think about search engine optimization when designing your site. Audio and video files are a sure fire way to cause search engine bots to ignore your site. They take up code space while the bots look for text when they crawl your site. If your ratio of code to text is too high, the bot will mark you down injuring your ability to rank high.
If that weren't enough, say you are a Punk Rock fan and you want to put Punk as background music to your site. I come there because I am interested in your product or service but I am a fan of Mozart. It is probable that the music will turn me off and I will go elsewhere. Your choice of music has turned me from a prospect to someone who never wants anything to do with you or your company. I am sure you have been on hold where the phone blasts music in your ear. I am also certain you have been annoyed by that music from time to time. The point is just this, if you must have music then use a generic selection of music and allow your visitor volume control and the ability to mute as well.
Video poses an entirely different problem. Go back to the issue of splash pages where you have a specific conversion goal in mind. Here videos tend to work quite well. People who come to your page are highly motivated and are predisposed to looking at a ten to fifteen minute video presentation. They tend to be high converters accomplishing exactly what one would want to happen. Anywhere else not so much. If you are going to use video, make sure that no video runs more than two to three minutes, that they are informative, and that there is text to go along with it. Otherwise, don't waste your time.
Roger Fischel is the CEO of The Fischel Group, a full service web design and build firm. He has helped a number of companies get their small to mid-sized businesses on line. The firm's mission is summed up in three words: vision/focus/results
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