The usability and the look of a website are often the key factors in determining a successful site and an unsuccessful one.
Think about the following elements of your site and see if yours measures up.
1. Keep it simple
That old saying of ‘keep it simple' applies as much to web design as it does to advertising. A user clicks through to your website for a reason - whether that's to search for a product or service you offer, find a contact phone number, or see where you're based.
You need to make sure your navigation is easy to understand so they can get to the information they need in as few clicks as possible.
2. Focus the users' attention on your most important content
Video and animation is annoying, even if it does do the job of drawing the readers' attention.
But make sure you balance annoying with functional - flashing advertisements are enough to make someone hit that back button, never to return, while a large typeface in an eye-catching colour can highlight your special offer without distracting the user or driving them away.
Or a relevant photograph can showcase your special offer in a helpful and attractive way.
3. Effective layout
Organise your content so it's consistent in layout and design from one page to another. Include only what is necessary to get your message across, otherwise the page can look cluttered, busy and confusing and keep layout simple.
Make sure your font is large and clear enough. Any serif font can be harder to read on screen than a simple font such as Gill sans or Ariel.
4. Write differently
Forget everything you learnt from your English teacher. People read content on the web differently than they do in a book. I bet you haven't read every word of this article (if you have, thank you - it's appreciated as it's taken me forever to write, and it's getting late so I'm tired because I got woken early this morning by the neighbours' dog then the car alarm went off because of the heavy rain).
And keep it short. Avoid unnecessary detail (about your neighbours' dog).
Use sub-headings, bulleted lists, images so it's easy to scan.
5. Don't be greedy when getting customer details
If you have a sign-up box on your homepage (which is a great way to capture customer data) ask them for the minimum information.
We're more wary than ever of giving away our contact details, so by having twelve boxes asking them for
you'll put them off straight away.
Just ask for the minimum - name and email address. You can always capture more detail at a later date by sending them a client survey or feedback questionnaire.
6. Test early test often (or TETO)
The principle of TETO helps highlight simple errors such as dead links and error messages, but can also illustrate areas for improvement in usability. You may think your ‘Buy' button is really obvious in the top right hand corner, but a user may struggle to find it and give up.
You don't need a fully representative sample to get results you can use - it's better to test on just one user than none, so get testing now and see what feedback you get.
So are you ready to make some changes?
As a first step, look at the following elements of your website design and see if they're working hard for you.
If this has sparked your interest in web design, why not do a short course? Cornwall College Business offers a degree level short course in web design at Camborne, Truro and Saltash at various dates throughout the year. Click here to read more Email email@example.com to find out when the next course begins.
Terry describes the Management training programme