As expressed in one of my previous articles, the goal of your web design project should be to market your business over the internet. There are many factors that can contribute to a successful project enabling you to achieve your business goals.
In the young days of the internet as designers tried to figure out what the internet was all about and the web design industry was in it's embryonic stage, the focus on design was all about wowing visitors with flashing and scrolling text, sounds files, images bouncing all over the screen, and hit counters, all having nothing to do with what visitors actually needed when visiting a website. Designers were more consumed with what they can do with the technology instead of what visitors wanted in a web site.
The internet has aged since then and so has the web design industry. Much research has gone into ascertaining what visitors really want in a website and how to help them find what they are looking for on your site. This is defined as usability. Having not understood that, many business owners unaware of these factors continue to request such outdated and unnecessary features in their websites. Here are some keys to building a successful website to market your product or services over the internet;
One of the first things that you need to understand about your web design project is that you are not building the site for yourself but for your clients and prospective clients. You are not the one who will be using the site, your clients and target audience will. Therefore it makes sense to focus on issues like the message that you have for your audience, what their needs are in coming to your site, and how you are going to meet those needs.
The focus of your project must be on providing your audience with relevant content and not bog them down with pages filled with graphics or sound files that take too long to download. The concept of the web is based on browsing. You have a limited amount of time to capture your visitor's attention with your content and to keep them on your site. Visitors want to get to what they are looking for in the shortest possible time.
Give your audience what they are looking for, not what makes you feel good about your site. It is the content of your site that helps them decide whether to buy from you are not or to subscribe to your services. You must try to achieve the right balance of aesthetics and ease of use in your project.
Give Your Clients A Reason To Return
A website with content that does not change is like meeting someone every day and having the same conversation day after day, after day. After a while that gets old and the individual becomes uninteresting and you just simply avoid them. The same is true with a website whose content does not change.
You must find ways to have meaningful dialogue with your audience on a regular basis. Depending on the nature of your site, some content may not require regular changes. With good planning however, you can build some segments of the site that will give your audience reason to return to the site in order to maintain a loyal following. A news section for example, that delivers fresh news on happenings in your business industry. Article about industry related changes and updates can prove to be an interesting way to have clients return.
Consistent And Easy To Use Navigation
The navigating system of the site must make it easy for your audience to find their way around your site without getting lost or wondering where they are within the site. It helps to maintain the same style on all pages as visitors have grown to expect that when visiting sites on the web. Expecting to find a feature where it should be when it is not there can be very disorienting for a visitor.
Properly Organized Information
The information architecture of your site is probably one of its most important components. Your information must be arranged in a logical way with an easy to understand labeling system that makes your content easy to identify and found. Information of the same type should be grouped together and given an appropriate label.
The term interactivity usually brings up images of graphic animations, or mouseover features on text and graphics. Interactivity is about providing facilities on your website through which your clients and prospective clients can have some form of dialogue with you.
Remember that web marketing is about communicating or having a dialogue with your intended audiences. Interactive features such as online forms that allow your audience to send you e-mail should be an important feature of your site. Your audience must be able to ask you questions, send information, comments or feedback to you. Some of that information can be quite useful in knowing how to improve your site to better serve your audience.
Ease Of Use
The site must be easy to use. There is a cliché in the web industry that says "don't make me think". In other words, your audience must not have to guess what you mean by the way the information is expressed on your site. The terms used and language used must be easy to understand. Certain industries may have their own languages or terms. You should not take it for granted that everyone visiting your site knows what your mean when you use terms in your particular industry.
Visitors must not have difficulty getting from one place to another in the site. They should not have to guess if by clicking on a link they would be taken to the right information. The links must be properly labeled to fulfill their expectations. Visitors should not have to wade through too many links just to find what they are looking for.
Build It So They Find It.
Your search engine strategy must be an important aspect of your design project. It makes no sense to build a great website and no one can find it on the internet. The right search engine strategy must incorporate a combination of factors: using the right keywords, placing the keywords in strategic places in the pages, having the keywords appear in the appropriate frequency are all important factors of that strategy.