If Your Site Doesn’t Help Its Audience, It Is A Wasted Resource
Who is the audience for your website? You must know who will use it before you can design a useful site. Will your users be prospective clients or perhaps the press, both looking for information and ways to contact your company? Will your users be existing customers, who may need product support or ways to buy add-on services?
1. What do you want from your website?
Is your website a tool to build your mailing list? If so, put a sign-up box on every page. Will it provide information on your services and products for prospective customers? Make the information clear and easy to find. Is the site’s purpose to sell products? Then make it easy for your customers to buy: invest in shopping cart support and put a ‘buy me’ button next to every item.
2. What do your customers want from your website?
Don’t forget to ask your existing customers (and your customer service staff) how the website might help them. Frequently Asked Questions and auto-responders that email information on request save time and money. Or perhaps your customers simply want a way to order more services.
Make it easy for your audience to find your site. Register a domain name that is easy to type. If your company name is long try a logical shortened form (e.g. BN.com instead of BarnesandNoble.com). Try not to use dashes (e.g. writing-world.com) because people will invariably forget to use them and end up at someone else’s site.
- Less is more – in all design matters.
- Navigation: don’t make visitors click through more than three levels to reach a page. Make sure your grandmother can find her way around your site. Could you use a blog or social networking site? Is that what your visitors are comfortable with?
- Typography: Limit yourself to one or two fonts and colors.
- Pictures: make sure pictures are no more than 72dpi and as small as possible for faster downloads.
Animation: just say no!
- Words: cut out half your text then cut out half again. People don’t read websites; they browse, looking for something to click on.
- Does your home page clearly explain what your business is and what customers can get from your site?
- Must-have pages: Home Page; Products & Services; About Us.
- Nice-to-have pages: Press Room; Testimonials; Feedback Form.