Does website design make a difference in how long people will visit your website or if they'll stay and shop? You bet. You've seen the websites that scream "bad idea" and you know those folks are losing potential customers to their ineffective website design. Whether you are an internet newbie or an experienced marketer, you should understand that good website design is part of the success equation.
So here are my 10 tips on how to create killer website design that will invite potential customers in instead of scare them away.
1. Easy Navigation- The road to success
When people come to your website they are usually searching for something in particular. It might be recipes for a healthy low fat diet that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare or what is the best business to start online. Whatever they want, you need to have the answer. So ask yourself, why do people come to my website? When you know that then you know you should make it easy for them to find it.
I have been on countless websites that make it difficult for me to do business with them. And you know what my first response is? "Next!"
I am onto the next website to see if they can answer my question. People don't want to waste their time hunting for things that should be easy to find.
So, if people come to your website to find widgets, have a button easy to see and locate that says "Widgets". People have been trained to look to the left of the website for the navigation bar.
2. Flashing Gizmos - The exit ramp to a dead end street
You've seen those sites where the elephants are dancing and the poker chips are running across the screen asking you to click on them...the only thing they have ever done for me is give me a headache and to reach the "let me get out of here as fast as I can" button on my computer.
If you are a running a professional site, please don't use flashing graphics. Guaranteed you are encouraging people to leave your site. People have come to you for information. Not to click on an ad or have their brain scrambled.
Make your website a pleasant environment for the customer to be in. Just like a store. Think about when you go to the mall. You want to go in a store that is clean, well laid out, has good customer service and the products you are looking for. Your website should reflect this. If it is what you expect in your shopping experience then does it not reason, your customers are looking for this in your website.
What about music? Well, it depends. On most business sites I would suggest not. But let's say you have a realtor by the ocean who rents out homes for summer vacations. They have music that sounds like the ocean is lapping at the foot of your desk. I think music is appropriate in this venue but I would definitely have it "off" as people log onto your site and give them an option to turn it on. Don't forget many people are surfing in their office environment and don't want the boss to find out. If your music is loud or on as people log onto your site and can't find a quick way to turn it off, they will leave your site faster than a cat that just saw the jaws of a Doberman!
3. Color - Enhancing the highway scenery
Color is an individual preference but studies show that colors have an affect on people's emotions. Look at the top sites like Amazon; their layout is simple and so is their color scheme.
My recommendation would be to go with the flow. If you have a financial investment site then conservative colors seem to follow. If you sell beach items then lots of fun colors apply. If you have a bridal shower website, I would say soft pastels. Think about your audience and you will know the color scheme.
4. Page Links - I-95 to your destination
This is a no brainer but make sure all of your buttons are hyperlinked to a page and the right destination page. No one including Goggle likes broken link pages. It can be tedious but do it anyway. As you hover over the button and look down in the left-hand part of your screen, you will see the hyperlinked page. Just verify that yours are correct.
5. About Us - Is your map reliable?
6. Sitemap - How do I find my way around this big city?
Let's say you have a lot of products or pages and resources. A sitemap helps people where to find what they are looking for quickly without have to rummage through your whole site like a lost soul. They are not hard to create but are useful for large sites. It also helps the search engines to know what you are about very quickly.
7. Fast Loading Pages - All lanes are go!
There is nothing worse than slow loading pages. You can optimize your graphics for your website. People hate to wait. You can check your page load time and page rank on Alexa.com. Slow pages equal death to an online business.
8. Shopping Cart - Need to buy some souvenirs
If you are selling items or services, you need a reliable and well organized shopping cart. I have seen some websites that have a zillion products listed and to email them for orders. What a nightmare! Yes, the shopping carts will charge you a fee but it is worth it for them to handle the transaction. There are many good shopping carts available and I would research them based on your business' needs.
9. Templates or Original Design- Chevrolet or Porsche
People often think that to have a website designed is going to cost thousands. So they opt for the templates and throw together sites. There is nothing wrong with this approach except I can tell the difference between what I call a "canned" site and one that was created from scratch. While I don't think a website that uses templates will turn off a customer, I just think it may not be as appealing.
Have fun with your online business. You can go to any number of photography sites and download professional photos from cows to race cars. This will make your site look more customized.
Again, I recommend that you shop for a good web designer. I paid around $400 for a basic site to go up. I know others would have charged me $1000 or more. That's why you need to shop and see examples of their work.
10. Customer Service - The Finish Line!
Okay so how is customer service a website design? Well, customer service should be written all over your site. From tips, to free reports, to guarantees, to fast and reliable shopping. People want to know you know what you are talking about and can deliver the goods they want.
Give a little and I guarantee you'll get in back tenfold.