This article was written by John Siebert, a Tampa web design master of the web with over 10 years of experience in web marketing.
The fact that you have a website, doesn’t automatically guarantee a successful innings on the World Wide Web. An online presence like a website, only works if it is a product of following the right design practices, not forgetting the basics and ensuring that the design and development is driven by the website’s purpose and to accomplish the desired objectives.
As can be imagined, this is not as easy as it seems; on the other hand, it’s not that difficult either. But this is only if designers stick to the right ways of designing a website. Yes, as in everything else, in the business of website design and development, there is a right way of doing things and then there is the wrong way of doing things. If you stick to the former, your website will be successful, and the latter makes your online presence a resounding failure.
So, we are not interested in the ‘wrong’ ways of creating an online presence all we are interested in, is crafting a website that offers the best returns of investment and becomes the kind of online presence that drives profits.
Let’s take a look at ten factors that have a big say in determining the success of a website:
1. Color Choice
The choice of the right colors, in the background or somewhere else has a role to play in your website’s success. You might not like to believe it, but colors work on the subconscious of your website’s visitors and contribute towards prompting him/her to take a call-to-action.
So, what you need to do first up is decide on a particular emotion that you want to elicit from your website’s visitors and choose your colors accordingly. For example if you want to generate some passion and excitement, then red should be a part of your color palette. If you want your website to exude calmness, a sense of peace and other such emotions, than blue should be your color of choice. A corporate website usually has a play of gray, black, and white, while some of the brighter colors like yellow, green and orange are used to bring about a feeling of youthful energy to the site.
An important aspect of proper color usage is ensuring that there is an element of contrast between the background color used and text on the site. This should be done from the readability point of view. Also, it’s important that you maintain consistency with respect to the usage of colors on your site. This improves the overall user experience of the site, an aspect that we are going to tackle next.
2. Focus on Usability and user experience
If you want your website’s design to work, then it must be user oriented. What this means is that you need to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience, and give them what they expect.
You will do well to remember that man is a creature of habit, and therefore his brain is habituated to certain controls, layout and features when it comes to a website. Your design should look familiar enough, so as not to confuse the visitor. In the business of website designing, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, but goes a long way in building trust, in the form of giving website visitors a wholly satisfying user experience.
When a visitor comes to your website, he mustn’t feel confused, or overwhelmed by the design. In fact, a look at your website, and he must be able to familiarize himself with it and be able to make optimum use of it. This is what usability and user experiences are all about.
3. Usability focused Information Architecture
This is a continuation of the earlier point and focuses on the importance of easy-to-use navigation as a means of improving website usability. The idea is very simple. You must make the process of browsing your website, convenience personified. You must ensure that your website is intuitive and responds to the users needs, without the user putting in a great deal of effort. For this to happen, you must concentrate on making the navigation menu, easy to decipher. The golden rule of designing navigation is to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t try something unique, as it will only serve to confuse the visitors. As mentioned earlier, giving them something that they expect ensures website success like nothing else can.
4. Improve its Accessibility Quotient
Remember, that your website is going to be used by people with abilities as well as disabilities. You, therefore, need to make your website accessible to all, meaning everybody must be able to access its information and features equally. One of the simplest examples of making website accessible is the use of large text and images (usually there is an option of enlarging the given text or image), it helps people with weak eyesight to use and understand the website.
While trying to make your website accessible enough, it’s important to focus on the semantics of the code and a sensitive intermixing of images, their textual equivalent and a meaningful nomenclature.
5. Always Call to-Action
Why do you have a website? Yes, it’s a means of marketing and promotion, a way of spreading brand awareness, but when you get right down to the bottom of it, a business wants its website to boost profitability. The success or failure of any website is measured by the amount of sales, that it is able to attract and nothing else.
This is why your website shouldn’t just have a call-to-action buttons, visuals, or text, but it should be call-to-action itself. What I mean is that the overall design of the website must in itself be call-to-action centric. When visitors will come across your website, they must have no doubt that your website means business. Each visual, each graphic, each button, the navigation menu, image placement etc. must do their bit to persuade the visitor to take a call-to-action. Any and every technique that will help your website make a favorable impression on the visitor must be adopted. The choice of your design elements should be determined by whether they will bring out a call-to-action or not.
6. Content is King
Allow your design to enhance the content on the site; and by content I mean the textual content of the site. A website needs to deliver a specific message and this is only possible through the use of impressive content. This is the kind of content that gels perfectly with the ethos of the website and brings forth the website’s message effectively and without any confusion. It must be well crafted, the written language must have no errors either grammatical or factual and above all, it must be such that it works in unison with the website’s design.
Get this wrong and your website has had it. The graphics on your website must be relevant to the objective of the website. More importantly, they mustn’t be offensive and must be able to make an emotive appeal to the website visitor.
The images and other visual elements used on the site must be unique and must be able to generate interest in the visitor. The first thing that a website visitor is going to notice is the graphics on the site, and therefore they must be able to make a resounding impact. So make sure that your graphics are of high quality, of just the right size and relevant to the purpose on hand.
8. Showcase Credibility
All the pointers mentioned above, if done right, bring to a website, a sense of trustworthiness. But, there are other ways and means that will help you make your site look more credible. Firstly, you absolutely need to offer your contact details, and mentioning your physical address also helps a lot. If you are a services company, making available your portfolio and project case studies is a great way of earning credibility. On the other hand, if you are a product based company, you can think about offering customer ratings and product reviews as a means of upping the integrity quotient.
Oh yes, and never forget client testimonials. They work big time, for instilling a sense of reliability to the site.
9. Mobile Version
As more and more users access the internet through their mobile devices, it makes sense for you to come up with a mobile version of your site. The reason why I have mentioned this pointer is because there is a good chance that a section of the target audience of a site will only access it through their mobile devices. So, it’s important that the website is able to cater to their needs as well.
Ensure that the features, functionalities and information available on your website are not lost when your target audience opens its mobile version.
10. Reliable Hosting Partner
You don’t want your website to give up on you, when you most need it. The choice of a reliable hosting partner ensures that there is very little or no downtime for your website and its up and running always. If you choose a trustworthy hosting partner, you can also be rest assured if there are any problems; they will be taken care of quickly and efficiently.
Tips are never enough
These are ten tips but these aren’t enough by any stretch of the imagination. You will need to take stock of many more such tips before you are able to ensure that your online presence will rake in the profits for you. So, keep researching, keep implementing and above all, don’t take the easy way out. When it comes to achieving website success, it is effort that counts.
December 30, 2013