Feb 23, 2007

5 Ways to Improve Your Website Design

Traffic, traffic, traffic! There is nothing wrong with getting more traffic to your website, but why spend thousands of dollars on advertising if you can't even convert your current visitors? It seems that websites are spending an arm and leg on advertising before they even fix their design to make the most out their current traffic; here are 5 of the most common ways to improve your design.

1. Call out to your visitors - if you are going to sell a product or a service make sure you make it easy for people to purchase from you. Have your phone number above the fold and some sort of call to action. This could be a message saying "call now" or a "buy it now" button. Whatever your call to action is, make sure it stands out and can be easily found. If your product pages are long and require visitors to scroll a lot, make sure you also place a call to action at the bottom of your site.
2. Think big - Make sure the font size you use on your website is big enough so that it is easy to read. If visitors can't read anything on your website, how do you expect them to purchase anything or "convert"? Although this sounds really obvious, look around the web there are thousands if not tens of thousands of web sites that use tiny text.
3. There's no quick and easy way - when you are building a website you need to take time and plan out the site architecture or else it will turn out to be confusing. It is like building a house you don't see builders starting to build without creating blueprints. With your site make sure people can find important sections with ease because you don't want people to have to search around too much or else they will leave. Make sure you have some of the basic elements that make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for such as a search box and a sitemap. The last thing you want a visitor to have to do is click around 20 times before they can find what they are looking for.
4. No man is an island - don't leave your visitors stranded, help them find what they are looking for. The cool little features you want on your website such as flash headers and audio intros is not what it is all about, it is all about what your visitors want. They are the ones that are going to be paying your bills, so listen to them or else they will not feed you. Do whatever you have to do to keep them happy or expect them to turn to your competition before you know it.
5. The proof is in the pudding - the biggest mistake that webmasters make is doing what they think is best. You are never going to know how to maximize your design without testing it. No one gets it right the first time, so use products like Google Analytics to figure out what works best. If you do this well, you will be able to maximize your conversion rate.

Design is one of those areas might seem really easy to figure out, but it is actually fairly complex. Small things such as the color of a website can affect the overall meaning and message. Every little thing can make an impact so it is important to take some time to try and make the most out of the traffic you already have before you try to get more traffic to your site. If you are interested in maximizing your design, I recommend checking out a few of these resources.

Web Design & Usability Guidelines - An in-depth online book that covers all aspects of usability.

IxDG Resource Library - A collection of information on interaction design.

The Meaning of Color in Web Design - The affect colors have on visitors when marketing products through the Internet.

Adaptive Path - Leading design firm that specializes in conversion oriented design.

Jesse James Garrett - More resources on conversion oriented design.

Ten deadly sins of web design - A list of 10 mistakes that web designers should watch out for.

(source: http://www.linkbuildingblog.com)

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