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Your Guide to Doing Web Design Right

Jul 7, 2008
Your website is your chance to make a great first impression with potential customers. It is your business persona that Internet users have access to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's important that you do your web design right to encourage visitors to stay awhile. The longer they do, the more chance you have of gaining new customers.

Here are some basic principles to ensure you do web design right. Following them will give you a head start in building up your Internet business faster.

* Make your navigation system easy to understand. Make sure you have clearly defined navigation buttons that are easily viewable at the top or side of your web pages. Don't make visitors to your site hunt for your navigation bar.

* Place your navigation buttons in the same place on each page. Keep these buttons in the same order on each page, with the same graphics. This ensures a unified theme for your website and makes navigation a breeze.

* Make sure visitors know where they are on your site at all times. Have a breadcrumb trail along the top of each page that shows where they are and where they were previously. In this way, your visitors can trace back their steps to where they first landed on your site.

* Use shorter line lengths than you would for hard copy print publications. This makes it easier to read your web content on a monitor or laptop. Don't have long lines running from one side of the monitor to the next. Block your text into organized groupings with suitable margin space on either side.

* Be diligent in grouping similar content together. Don't have a hodgepodge of information not closely related to each other on a web page. Don't have "About Us" on the "Shop Here" page along with "FAQs." Have a logical flow of information from page to page. That means having one theme per page. Visitors to your site will get confused if you do not. They will be unsure as to whether they should shop, get instructions for product use or read about your company's history, if it's all on one page. Make the knowledge-gathering process a cumulative one from page to page. Lead them smoothly from page to page, gradually building trust in you and your product or service until making a buying decision.

* Don't just make sure visitors know where they are on your site; make sure they know they are still on your site. Never lead them to believe they've clicked away from your site to a different one. This can happen when there is not a common theme among your pages. You need common identifying elements that tell your visitors they are still on your site.

You can do this by repeating specific visual elements on every page of your website. This lets visitors know they are still in your store and inside that great cyber mall. They did not wander next door away from your site. These repeated visual elements give your website continuity and a unified theme.

Repeat color schemes on your various web pages to help present that common theme to visitors across all web pages. Use colors that are consistent with your business image. Repeat typefaces across your various web pages. This allows for smoother reading across web pages so readers do not have to adjust their eyes to different styles and sizes of text.

* Keep your graphics appropriate to your audience. Homer Simpson style cartoon graphics may not be appropriate if you are a business specializing in corporate tax law. Neither do you want to come across as too conservative if your business is selling flamboyant summer leisurewear. Let your graphics match your product or service personality.

Above all, know your website's users and what they are likely to look for when they happen upon your site. Make your landing page convey a clear message about your business. Web design is all about letting your potential customers know two things quickly: what you have to offer them and why it will benefit them. When you let them know these two things in a clear, concise way, you will capture their interest.

An attractive website encourages visitors to stay on your site. An easy-to-navigate website encourages those visitors to take their time and explore the site further. The lasting profits come when they explore to the point of proceeding to your e-commerce checkout.
About the Author
Chris Coleman is a Business Analyst at Capita Technologies. Capita Technologies provides web design services for a wide variety of clients.
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