A website is first and foremost a communication tool, right? So, just like any means of communication that means three things:
1. It needs to connect
2. It needs to be interesting
3. It needs to be clear
Put it the other way around – make it invisible, boring and confusing and it’s unlikely to work well for you. If you prefer to be easy to find, gorgeous to look at and fun to be with, read on.
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So how does that translate into building or commissioning your website?
Make it visible
Most websites are buried in cyberspace (this one is somewhere underneath California ) or on a “cloud” host. So you have to rely on people’s interface with cyberspace to bring them to your website, self evidently via a computer screen.
Traffic to most sites falls neatly into one third searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo etc, one third redirection from other sites or emails, and one third referrals from other social media such as facebook, twitter, or search engine. So use them all.
To see how to get that working for you have a look at these tips for getting visitors to your site.
Engage visitors’ attention
This falls into three categories: design, signposting and content.
Design is a big plus for websites – the colour scheme, layout and images all make it one of the most attractive means of communication, so make the most of it. Keep a colour theme going, base it on your logo if you have one, use good pictures to support a point and add interest and colour.
Pay special attention to your header – the panel at the top of the site. It sets the tone and message of your website right from the start and serves as a familiar anchor as visitors travel the site.
But don’t let your site get too busy – flashing images and sliding photos are known to put people off and simply distract from the important element, the words you want people to read.
Again, keep it simple. Let the tabs and headings tell a new visitor exactly what to expect on your website, so that hidden pages that you want them to find are linked clearly and obviously from the start. The eye usually travels top left to top right on each new page, then down the right side and across and up the middle. So put key tabs clearly and obviously along those lines of sight.
Drop the drop down menus
As with flashing images and sliding photos, drop down menus on tabs seem exciting and clever, but in fact they hide information and give your visitors a job they don’t want. With drop down menus readers will diligently have to visit each menu and memorize their content in order simply to find their way to your pages. Guess what? They won’t bother!
If a visitor wants to read a page again will they remember how they got there? No. So unless you have hundreds of pages and an obvious need for subcategories like Amazon do, best avoid drop-down menus if you can. Also, avoid asking visitors to make more than one click to get to a page. Chances are they wont.
At last the visitor is there, engaged nicely and ready to read your stuff! So give it nice clear headings, easy to read language, clearly expressed and above all interesting. And, in the marketing jargon, make sure it lets visitors know how your site can meet their needs. For more tips on building good content, click here!
So if you are building website or having one built for you, make sure you think about SEO, think about layout and signposting and think about good design and good content.
So, boring, confusing and invisible or easy to find, gorgeous to look at and fun to be with?