We’re living in the height of the information age so it should no longer be a surprise that businesses from nearly every industry imaginable are finding the need to migrate online. Whether a company moves all of their operation online (like many magazines that used to offer print editions, for example) or simply just a portion of what they do, the fact remains that a web presence has become essential in our competitive economy.
Website designs are as varied as the number of companies creating them so it can be difficult to discern which designs work the best. The most important thing to remember when designing your website is that great web design is easy—easy to use, easy to navigate and easy on the eyes. Here are a few general tips to keep in mind to ensure that your website looks and functions the way you want it to and the way that will help your business most.
Advertising is a lot of work and can cost a lot of money. These days, most of that effort is focused toward driving potential customers first to your website. After a heavy investment in marketing, both in terms of money and time, you don’t want people to get to your site only to exit after just a few seconds. The key to getting them to stay awhile is a design that helps them feel comfortable.
Start by picking a design that is appropriate for your company and attractive to your target demographic. As with anything else, you will want to make a good first impression and ensure that viewers’ eyes are directed to the elements of the page you most want to emphasize. That means that you should be selective with the amount of content included on any page, especially your home page. A cluttered design is off putting, confusing and hard to use. Restrict your main menu to a small list of general options that will enable you to guide traffic in the direction you want.
Widgets, Plug Ins, Apps
Additional features such as widgets, plug-ins or apps can be a great way to augment the content on your site and improve usability. When overused, however, those features can have the opposite effect—bogging down navigation and cluttering the page. Limit the inclusion of additional features based on whether or not they improve ease of usability for visitors to your site. The simple things are often the most appreciated, not the flashy yet less practical. If you plan to use your site as a point of sale venue then make sure that the purchasing process is as simple and as secure as possible. People are wary of inputting sensitive financial and personal information onto web pages so ensure that encryption has been used and that customers are aware that the connection is secure. Also make sure that each page in the purchase process is simple, clear and easy to navigate so a customer has no last minute reason to back out from making a purchase.
It has been said that “no man is an island,” and no website should be either. The whole point behind the “web” metaphor is that it speaks to the ability of the Internet to connect people, places and businesses. The recent explosion of social network popularity has made this easier than ever before. There are plenty of options available to utilize social networking and other sharing tools so take advantage. Many of these options come in the aforementioned plug-ins and can be elegantly integrated into your web design. People quickly identify with many of these networks as well so the inclusion of their sharing tools adds an element of legitimacy and familiarity.
If you’re looking for a very well designed website that covers these best practices, visit Vivint.coms’ recently redone site.
Author bio: Rick Delgado is a retired business professional that can be found contibuting to several big business and tech websites. He’s also a regular contributor to several tech companies, like Vivint.