Top tips for Website Design

1. Who's it for?

Focus on the people that will be reading your content. Your target audience has to be the sole focus of that page. What information are they trying to find? What action do you want them to take once they've visited your site? What's the benefit that they will receive by visiting your site? In essence what problem are you solving for your client? Without having the answers to these questions, your visitor may just bypass your site feeling that they never got anything out of the visit. Always focus on the target market you are trying to communicate with. Headlines, links and images must have purpose and move your visitor towards the desired action.

2. Speed kills - it really does!

Slow loading sites are a pain in the butt. How often have you been surfing the net when you hit upon a flash site. Do you sit there twiddling your thumbs for a good 20 seconds wondering if you'll ever get to see the amazing work of art? NO! You most likely get ticked off and visit someone elses site. People are impatient, the internet is fast now so there's no excuse. So when you are designing your site all images, audio, video or Flash content needs to be optimized to the smallest possible size without compromising on the quality. If the content is essential to communicate to your audience, then adding a small message like "please wait ...valuable content loading" can increase the 10-15 seconds people will typically wait.

3. Avoid navigation that sucks.

Make your navigation simple and logical to find. There should be no more than 3 clicks to find the information that the visitor wants. Always plan out the journey that your visitor will most likely follow and keep it simple, logical and intuitive to find. There are many ways people access the internet and this should be planned for in the initial stages of the site plan. Consider who your target audience is and make sure your site navigation takes into account their most likely viewing preferences. Are they likely to use a mobile phone, or do they have older computers with smaller screens?

4. Image is everything!

Google might bring you visitors but you have less than 3 seconds to make an impression. People buy with their eyes so the look and feel of your site must appeal to your target audience and feel inviting. Colors and fonts must be consistent across the web site and need to contribute to the customer centered experience. Use a color scheme that doesn't distract from your content. Bold and garish backgrounds can distract the visitor and make the content hard to focus on. Remember: What doesn't add to the focus, will detract from the focus. Fancy fonts are often hard to read so simple sans serif fonts are the best way to go. Write short sharp sentences and break the text into 'chunks'. Long paragraphs can have your reader groaning at the thought "Do I have to read all that?".

5. Bad Grandma and spelling can instantly kill your credibility

Nothing does more to destroy your credibility than bad grammar and spelling (yes that was a deliberate mistake in the headline!) With all the built in spell checkers available there's no excuse. The ultimate goal of your website is to build trust and confidence in your company or brand and poor wording can kill that in a heartbeat. Have someone with good English skills proof read everything before it is published.

6. Content is king

The core message of your website should ultimately build trust and invoke action. If someone came to your site looking for something specific that you offer and leave without it, something is not working. You should expect some action before the visitor leaves. Even if it's just to pick up the phone to call you. All elements of your site should be focused on getting them to take the desired action. Using targeted keywords in your copy will help you get found on the search engines. over use of these keywords will get you in hot water with the search engines. It's a fine line but ultimately your copy should include bullet points stating the benefits of your product or service. Headlines that state benefits will grab your readers attention, and highlighting key areas will attract your readers eye. Taking the time to incorporate these 6 things will go a long way to having a successful web site. Take a look at yours today and ask yourself, "Is there anything that I can do to improve my web site?"

Rochelle Alder 0800 33 80 80

follow me on twitter:@devolsolutions

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Totally agree Rochelle, all of these things working together is the key to building a great website. Having compelling content that is designed for your target market with an effective design is essential.

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