Web page design is an art, but you don’t need an art degree or be a rocket scientist to design effective web pages for your website. You just have to be aware of several important aspects that every web page should have. These components will ensure the visitors to your website like what they see and keep coming back. And it’s them, wanting to do business with you, which is important. Right?
How we do business has changed drastically over the last decade and we all know this is due to the World Wide Web and the Internet. Businesses no longer have the time to wait for the mail to bring them the information they need; nor do they have the time to manually search for shoe retailers in Cuba. Today everything is at our fingertips and time is more expensive and in shorter supply than ever. Things have to happen quickly, from gathering information to buying leather shoes in another country.
So, with this constant time crunch, no one is going to waste his or her valuable time on a poorly designed web site. Here are some important components of a successful web page and web site; things that should be a part of the planning that goes into their design.
Time is Money
Web audiences are not captive. Most visitors to your web site will not stay long if they have to wait for your page to load. 15 seconds is the average and if they are VERY interested they may wait for 30 – tops. Fancy power-point or Flash introductions and large graphics look impressive but they are slow to load which guarantees lost business. This also goes for banners, pop-up windows, and background music. Make the copy on your web page easy to read – dark type on a light background is the best for three reasons: it is easier to read (this means a happier visitor) ;it’s easier for printers to reproduce and many browsers can’t print light type on a dark background. Another no-no for web page design is the use of scrolling pages; they waste time and are annoying. Visitors will often leave right away. To avoid scrollbars, design your web pages for a resolution of 640 x 480. If your page has so much content the scrollbars are necessary then make sure that the top visible part is enough to keep your visitors interetsed. If you remember to keep things simple, your visitors will be back.
Repeat Visits – the Purpose of Web Page Design
If your web pages load quickly and your content is obvious and easy to see you are already ahead of the marketing game. But to ensure repeat visits from your customers you need to make sure navigation throughout your site is as easy as possible and that there is a consistency between every page. Make sure there are always links back to the home page and every page should be accessible via at least two links from the home web page. And give your visitors something useful whether it’s links to other sites, reference information, free stuff, or software. Everyone likes to get something for free – this is virtual marketing and it works.
Make Life Simple
The Necessity of Easy Web Page Maintenance and Contact Information
Everyone likes things that are simple. That goes for you and your potential customers. Visitors to your web site and web pages don’t want to work hard at contacting you. When designing web pages make sure that on every web page your contact information is readily available; otherwise, visitors will get frustrated and leave. Your customers, like shoppers, want variety when they visit your web site. In order to keep your customers happy and returning you must constantly be changing your shop display (rearranging the content and look of your web pages) to keep their interest. But if this is difficult and hard to do, you will find yourself avoiding the task thereby losing business because of customer boredom. Shoppers don’t come back if it’s always the same old thing. When you initially design your web pages and web site you want to make all the pages easy to maintain. Ask yourself: How often will changes need to be made? Can frequently changed areas be placed on separate files for ease of update? If you design your web pages with these questions in mind, your customers will never be bored and continue to come back to you.
Never Sacrifice Content for Creativity
If you spend time and money for a fancy, flashy web page but slack on the content you are only cheating yourself. Are you trying to sell your web site design or your product? Each page must have your message visually prominent, don’t draw attention to the wrong things on the page, i.e.: blinking text, moving graphics, etc. These things are distracting and annoying and annoyed customers won’t come back. The use of frames in web page design is out. Did you know that half of the search engines can’t index frames and that older browsers, palm pilots, and cell phones can’t navigate web sites and web pages with fancy graphics, animation, or frames? If your site can’t be navigated, potential customers won’t find you – you will lose money.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engines are our friends. Say it. Mean it. Live it. When designing your web pages always keep in mind that it’s the search engines that guide people to your site. But they need the right signal to do this. Search engines guide visitors to your web site through the use of keywords. Without keywords you will receive no exposure. When designing web pages you must optimize every page for the search engines by including keyword rich titles, keyword rich meta tags and keyword rich introductions. If you use graphic headlines (which look great) you will lose the opportunity to place keywords that will get great search engine position. This costs you business. The same goes for using a Flash or image introduction – you will effectively cripple your search engine positioning efforts.
Designing web pages isn’t as hard as you would think. It takes a small amount of creativity and a lot of common marketing sense. And if you don’t want to do it yourself you now have enough of an understanding of the necessary elements of good web page design that you can oversee those you hire to do the job. One note about hiring web page designers; as with many things you do get what you pay for; ask questions and don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. And always keep this in mind…If you can make the experience of visiting your web site a painless, rewarding exercise, then you will have customers that tell their friends about you and will return over and over. Just watch your business grow.