10 Secrets of Successful Websites
Driving potential clients to your website can be a job in itself. Once you get them there, you want to keep them there until they decide to hire you or buy your product. A poorly designed website will make them click away to another site and never return again. Here are some tips to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
1. Use a Simple Eye-Catching Design - Insist on a good design, not just good coding or fancy gimmicks. The site must look appropriate to your target audience. Everyone enjoys a little eye candy but unless you’re selling to young teens and pre-teens (who aren’t likely looking to spend money), a site that is too busy will drive buyers away. This is especially true if you’re in the B2B market.
2. The Site Must Load Quickly - Although Flash sites are fun and interactive, they are often too slow to load even with today’s higher speed connection. Too many graphic elements or large file sizes can also drag your sites load time to a craw. Potential customers will click away if they have to wait more than a few seconds to begin navigating your site. And unless your site is simply intended for entertainment purposes, avoid using an introductory Flash Movie page or at least make sure to include a link to skip that is easily found. People will not want to watch your movie every time they visit your site.
3. Make the Site Easy to Navigate - Nothing is more frustrating then getting to a site that you think has the product you need and not be able to find it or find out how to buy it. Make your links easy to find and clear to understand. If people have to click more than twice to get the information they want. They will leave and search elsewhere. No one has the time to wander through a maze of obscurely titles links. Use common the common terms people are familiar with for your links.
4. Use High Quality Graphics - A picture is worth a thousand words and the quality of the graphics you use says volumes about your business. Avoid clip art, poorly scanned images or bad photographs. Hiring a freelance illustrator to create custom graphics for you is the best way to get professional images that are reproducible in multiple mediums. You can also hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your business or product but you’ll still need a graphics artist to touch them up and crop them for your site. Custom images add credibility to your website and sets your site above those that use tired old stock images.
5. Instantly Convey your Message - Your web site need to convey the message quickly if not instantly. People visiting your site won’t spend time searching it to determine if you offer what they are looking for. If they don’t get a sense right away that your site will meet their needs, they’ll quickly go back to the search engine generated list and select another site.
6. Consistency on Every Page - You website must have the same basic theme on all the pages. Your landing page may have a different layout than the sub pages but all the pages should have the same color theme, layout and menu placement. Don’t confuse visitors by moving these elements around on every page or by changing colors. This looks amateur and visitors may think you’ve directed them to a different website and that takes away from your creditability.
7. Keep it on Brand - Your website is a powerful extension of your other branding and marketing efforts. Your site should use the same logo, fonts and colors that you use for print ads, business cards and other promo materials. If you haven’t begun the process of turning your business into a brand, your website is the perfect place to start. Make sure you have the rights to use the design, images and fonts for other forms of advertising.
8. Copy is King -The layout, colors and images will convey your message instantly but like all other forms of advertising, it’s the copy that sells. Offer truthful, sincere information and advice. Your website copy needs to be both friendly and informative. Keep the writing in a personal tone. Avoid the hard sell and don’t be pushy. There are many ways to highlight the important benefits you offer without it looking like you’re shouting. Consider hiring a professional copywriter to write for your site in order to maximize the effectiveness of the copy.
9. Make Important Information Easy to Find - Your address, hours of operation, and phone number should be easy to find. Put this information on your home page and in the header or footer on every page. Include a contact page and directions to your business. Offer custom direction by including a link to an online mapping site such a Google Maps.
10. Optimize for Search Engines - Make sure your site is designed to be properly identified and categorized by the major search engines. Use key words within your site but do it in a way that doesn’t make the site hard to read. Good professional web designer and copywriters know how to improve your page ranking on search engines with out compromising your customers experience when the visit.
Your website must add value to both your business and the people who visit your site. Keep it simple, informative and easy to navigate. Be sure it is consistent with your brand and company image. Remember these 10 simple rules and your site will add huge value to your business.