Let’s face it. There are a lot of really well designed websites out there that simply have horrible development and crummy functionality. At the same time there are extremely ugly (original HTML style) websites out there that bring in high traffic because they’re functional and easy to navigate. But, why not have both?
If you’re preparing to make a website or blog for yourself or business, here are 5 Do’s and Dont’s as a guideline to help make your website drastically more successful.
1) It all starts with the Home Page:
Do: Make it simple, clean, and “obvious”- Your homepage is everything. It’s the first impression. It’s landing on the moon for the first time. But if you’re visitors are confused, overwhelmed, or lost they’ll be gone before you know it. Spend triple the amount of time mapping it out as you do designing it. Carefully think of where you want you’re visitors to go, how to get them there, and how to make it as easy as possible to do so.
Don’t: Cram content- The biggest temptation in creating a homepage is putting as much content on there as you can. The idea behind this is the hope that your visitors will get all they need if all they ever see is your homepage. But this is a HUGE mistake. The goal for your homepage is not to summarize your business in one breath but instead, like a guided tour, give them an introduction and guide them to another page on your site (called a “click through”).
2) Navigation is the Road Map
Do: Make your site navigation immediately visible or accessible- All you really have is less than 2 seconds before your visitor begins looking for the next thing to click on, and most likely they’re looking for your navigation. So if you’ve caught their interest at all on your homepage, then your navigation becomes the next most important thing. As a general rule, I usually treat my navigation bar as its own webpage. I spend just as much time designing and developing it.
Don’t: Have too many links- The last thing you want to do after winning over a visitor to click towards your navigation is to scare them away because you have 100 different links to choose from. Very, very few websites have I ever seen that do this well. Keep your navigation to a handful of links. If you have a lot of links, consolidate them into category links. You don’t want your online visitor feeling like they’re caught in a web.
3) Gather Info
Do: Give your visitors an opportunity to leave their info- The best thing your website can do for you is not leaving your visitors impressed, but earning your visitors trust enough to leave their email with you. Make sure to have a way to gather intel. Have your links carefully guided towards getting the visitor to fill out an email subscription or sign up for a deal. Intel is invaluable.
Don’t: Make your visitors feel like they’re giving their soul away-I think you know this. It’s kind of unsettling when you come to a website that interrupts you with a popup window every 10 seconds. It’s also bad form (no pun intended) to make your visitors feel like they have to leave they’re social security number with you. Just get their email. If you’re bold, get their name. And always give them a way out. Tell them how they can unsubscribe if they ever wish to so they don’t feel like they’re trapped.
4) Invest in a web designer or design consultant
Do: Be wiling to put a little money into your website- You don’t want a cheap website. And by cheap, I don’t mean you need to have an expensive one that will cost you an arm and a leg. But if you’re reading this, you’re more than likely interested in making your website better and more impactful. In other words, you have plans to truly use your website as a tool to promote something or drive sales. Did you know 95% of people don’t trust certain websites because of bad design? Hire a professional web designer or at least consult with a professional to get on the right track.
Don’t: Cut corners and hire your nephew for $20- There’s a reason why web design and development is a career -because it takes skill, craftsmanship and good amount of knowledge to create an excellent website. This isn’t something you can accomplish by cutting corners and hiring your 12 year old nephew to accomplish. There so much more to think about that you and your nephew aren’t likely to know about that professionals do.
5) Really, really mobile friendly
Do: Make sure your website works good and looks good on mobile devices- This probably cannot be stressed enough. The mobile web is already beginning to rule. Most of your visitors will be viewing your website from their iPhone, or iPad or Kindle or whatever mobile device they have. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, then here’s the real question: “Why have a website?” Don’t hire a web designer who doesn’t do mobile friendly development (also known as responsive design). And don’t hire a web designer who charges you more for a mobile friendly website. In this day and age, mobile friendly design should come standard.
Don’t: Live with it- In the rush and excitement of getting your website up and running, it’s so tempting to just live with the desktop version. But listen, you can’t live with it. You must move your website forward into the mobile market otherwise it will become obsolete, if not already. If your website was developed years ago, hire a developer to make it mobile friendly for you (or better yet, just have them redesign a website for you if its that old).
Bottom Line: As with everything, there’s a right way to do something and a wrong way. This becomes especially true with websites. If you apply all 5 of these Do’s and Dont’s for a successful website, you’re going to see an drastic change in how your website reaches your visitors.