Your website design is the first and possibly last thing your visitors will see when assessing your business. So, it is important to put your best foot forward and (a) create relevance for your content as well as (b) ensure that your pages are formatted properly.
Sure, you can find information that pertains to specific information like CSS, DHTML, HTML, PHP, and content management systems(CMS), but without having an overview to tie it all together it may as well be a foreign language.
The last thing any visitor needs once they have taken the time to follow a link or type in a search query in a search engine is to try to figure out (a) what your website it about or (b) is it really what they are looking for.
So what can you do to ensure that right from the start, your site has a fighting chance to keep the visitor engaged long enough to compel them to take action.
The first step is “Using a Catchy Headline“. Using a magnetic headline and features such as bold, italic and block quotes tactfully to emphasize your content (instead of overemphasizing it) can entice your reader to look further into your proposition.
The operative communication style should be “consolidated and succinct” (as viewers are anxious to grasp the context or move on). So, quickly summarize your pages benefits or purpose as soon as possible to keep the interest of your audience. The main objective is, finding a communication medium that complements your context and your audience it could be layout and content based (copy focused), visual – (image or video based), audio (pod casts) or a combination of any or all of these elements. This driving factor (aesthetic design & function) that determines if your sales conversion ratio’s are lackluster or blockbuster. So make sure you put just as much effort and emphasis in crafting your headlines as you do your content to maintain the balance of promotion and delivery.
The second web design tip – Is your design easy to use and can users find the hot spots or know how to navigate instinctively?
Hot spots are regions on a page where the eye is naturally attracted to, also when we read a page, the eyes typically move in a Z pattern to skim the data. So layout and positioning are equally as important in the grand scheme of design.
It is a known fact that people prefer to see data isolated in smaller segments so they can surmise the total value of the content quickly without having to commit until they find something intriguing enough to settle their attention on.
So, if your images are top heavy on the design, then make sure you try to use a compelling headline in combination with a statement (sub heading) that reinforces the (this is why your are here) title, description and theme of the page or website.
Also, if you have sentences grouped in sets of 5 or six, try breaking them up into (mentally ingestible) chunks of information 3-4 sentences long or 25-30 words in order to encourage readers to skim your data.
This alone can increase conversion, because the reader doesn’t feel pressured to take action, they can peruse through the content at their leisure and arrive at the point where they need to make another decision (such as click a link, find a more relevant page, or website for that matter).
Also, to touch briefly on navigation, forget about java script, if you like the look of java script, then you may as well use a CSS based DHTML menu to have the feel without the code bloat that comes along with java on web pages.
This will also help you for optimization purposes as the text in the links for your navigation are text based links and have the ability to pass link juice and page rank to your pages. So in case you are thinking about adding images, stick with text links for SEO.
The third point – Are the colors, backgrounds and fonts pleasing to the eye?
Naturally you can’t please everyone, but if you are ever in doubt about which possible colors to use on a site, you can just conduct a search and look for the industry leader to see if they are on to something with their color schemes.
With all of the millions of dollars spent on usability testing and human factors each year, you can pretty much cut right to the chase if you are looking to find what type of an emotional statement websites are making from the color palettes and related font themes and positioning they use.
Blue – gray, shades of blue – business (Microsoft, Google) conservative, trusting, dependable. Which is why thousands of companies use this to encourage trust and professionalism.
Orange, white, gray, black – edgy, cutting edge, modern, creative.
Red – bold, daring, unique, dramatic, stimulating.
Pastels – more subdued, conceptual, comforting, etc.
Black – Artistic, industrial, daring, mysterious, sophisticated, etc.
O.k, so I was obviously winging it a bit above (with the impact of color and behavioral science self appointed expert style), but the point is, your colors tell a story about how you see yourself, but more importantly they can also impact which types of consumers will return, based on the emotional appeal of your colors.
I doubt if we redesigned our site today using electric colors that are akin to kindergarten or a Pokey Mon color palette that our site would still have the same number of return visitors. So, go easy on the eyes with design and navigation if you really are concerned about the long term appeal for your pages.
The next point – reader retention and your website stickiness factor.
Traffic is a fickle thing, you can have tons of traffic and no sales conversion in sight, or you can have low traffic, but high conversion rates. Obviously the latter depends on (a) how the visitor feels (b) how they identify with your content, writing style and message and (c) if they feel secure enough to take action.
If your website gets traffic that bounces right back to the search engines, then you know your content is a problem. SEO copy writing is one way to avoid this, you have to have something to say (tactfully) while being compelling enough to engage the reader to take action, not to mention you have to be visible in search engines as well.
Neglect any one of these vital components and the last thing you will have to worry about is return visitors. However, if you master the delivery, the headline, the content and create hot spots in your content that convert them to take action, then you will see unique visitors frequenting your site to see more of what you have to offer.
They key factor here is, keep it simple, don’t clutter your pages with off topic advertisements of have a banner that just won’t quit (flash abuse). Make sure that the content is the focus, so it’s o.k to get personal to some degree.
Tactics that involve sales copy that pressures you into a corner is so transparent as visitors are more savvy than ever, so make sure that quality is the focus and people will reciprocate.
Now for the last point, my favorite – Can your website be found in search engines?
If you can only find your site using a keyword in your domain name, then chances are you need search engine optimization.
It’s not to say that having a trendy or great looking site is not an accomplishment, but what about having a beautiful site that ranks as great as it looks? That is the basis of SEO Web Design, a utility-based hybrid of web design combined with optimization principles that are known to create a heightened response from search engines(and how they index and rank your content).
If you can master the fundamentals mentioned briefly in this article, you are one step closer to garnering the audience that is most suited for your website.
Once you find your niche and start to attract valuable inbound traffic, your website design is the first and possibly the last impression of your business that you can control. Investing in functional as well as aesthetic design elements in conjunction with search engine optimization is a suggestion we would clearly make to anyone who has an interest in marketing a business or offering a service online.
In closing, there is no magic bullet, just a carefully crafted combination of elements that work in tandem to create a holistic effect. But by increasing the elements known to produce results, you will have already established yourself in the upper echelon of search engines and trust me, the search engines notice.
Once you learn to speak the language of search engine spiders and how they assign relevance, creating a website that constantly graces to top 10 search results through relevant placement of content, design and function is merely a by product of exceptional SEO Web Design.