Effective Website Design
One of the most commonly overlooked elements of an effective E-Business is the very thing that is essential to your success. Something as simple as the design of your website can make or break your business. Each consumer has their own set preferences of what they find appealing, and it’s impossible to please everyone. However, there are some simple rules to follow to ensure that your website will appeal to the vast majority of Internet surfers.
1. Toss Out The Clutter
Does your website bear an even passing resemblance to the junk drawer in your kitchen? In an effort to make a site as pretty as possible, many people make the mistake of having too many images, too much clutter and not enough information. If you are in the business of selling information, you will need to make sure that your site is as informative as possible.
The first paragraph on your website is the most important of all the information on your site. You will need to “grab” your viewer right then and there or, unfortunately, your website can become a statistic quickly. In fact, the majority of web surfers spend 10 seconds on a site before deciding whether to stay or go. If they’re stuck waiting for images to load and having to page down to get to any text, you have all ready lost them.
2. Punch Up Your Sales Copy
Many people view a website as an impersonal tool, a way to reach many people quickly. They tend to loose focus on the personal aspect of doing business and creating strong customer relationships.
For example, if you walked into a brick and mortar store and an employee approached you waving banners, and saying “LOOK AT THIS!” you would most likely run the other way. On the other hand, if a knowledgeable sales person approached you and said, “We have some wonderful specials that we have hand picked just for you,” you would be much more likely to stay. Just as in the real world, you only have a few seconds to make a good impression.
As we mentioned above, the first paragraph is the cornerstone of your entire website. It needs to be informative, to the point and most importantly; it has to leave them wanting more.
3. Test Your Website
Another common mishap in website design is overlooking different monitor sizes, browser types and font preferences set by Internet users.
Your site may look just fine to you, but to someone on a 13 inch monitor with their default text size set to “Largest” it may look just plain awful. Most browsers allow you to view a website using four or five different font sizes. It is a good idea to view your site using all of them to make sure your design remains intact and that the formatting of your text is how you want it to look.
If you’re having a great deal of trouble making your site look right during font changes, you may want to include CSS or Cascading Style Sheets. CSS ensures that the font size stays the same on your site no matter what preferences a user might have their browser set to recognize.
It is a good idea to have your friends preview your site using AOL browsers, and different settings to make sure that your site will look the same to everyone.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Be an Individual
Many E-Businesses come with their own “cookie cutter” websites that make it easy for everyone to get their Internet presence up and running. While this does make it easier, it does make it harder to stand out in the crowd. How many websites have you seen lately that look identical? Today’s Internet users are savvy, and getting more savvy every day. They can smell a “clone” miles away and may decide to bypass your business all together.
While it does take time and some skill, learning how to use HTML, and design programs for websites can be time well spent. If you don’t have the time or the drive to learn to do your own site, you can usually find a webmaster for a reasonable amount of money who can handle the design for you. It may mean the difference of making the sale, or being passed over.
In closing, the most important element of effective web design is making sure that your website reflects who you are. Never forget that running an E-Business isn’t that different from running a brick and mortar store. Appearances do matter and they do make a difference.