Keep It Simple Stupid
Simple website design is a vastly underestimated tool in a web designer/marketers arsenal.
Keeping a web page simple and uncluttered has benefits on both aesthetic and practical levels. The rise of interactive Web 2.0 sites, the need for endless plug-ins and add-ons can often deter less experienced users from a site before they have the chance to make use of anything it has to offer, so it is always important to think of you target demographic before deciding how to go about constructing your site.
If your site relies on returning traffic it may be worth incorporating related features, but if your site is more angled towards one-off visitors it is more worth your while keeping the site fast and intuitive to use.
Maintaining an aesthetically simple and effective site can be achieved by ensuring your pages are uncluttered, your colour schemes are easy on the eye and your navigation is intuitive. Background tools such as CSS can help you acheive this.
The advantages of this sort of thinking in web design includes better accessibility and site recognition which will help visitors easily identify your site and also allow them to access information and services quickly and easily. Put simply, fast and easy to read websites will help retain traffic at your site.
If you have a number of related sites, maintaining a similar design scheme can help visitors to recognise your sites more easily. Familiarity and trust in your sites can help to increase the numbers of returning visitors. It will also make the actual design and construction of these websites easier and quicker with the possibility of sharing resources such as images, templates, forms and style sheets.
‘Keeping It Simple’ also applies to any scripts you might have in your sites such as information request forms. If a visitor is confronted with a monster of a form it is unlikely that they will take the time to fill it out and a potential client/customer is lost. Simple forms are a much better way of getting leads from your sites, keep the information to name, contact details and a brief description of their enquiry, even if you require more details, these can be obtained later once you have established a dialogue. This should also help to reduce the number of void enquiries.
For many reference based websites, the temptation to over-complicate things is overwhelming as it becomes easier to implement more technically advanced codes and layouts. However, while it may offer a more professional look, it is important to remember that reference websites rely heavily on sensible coding and text layouts in order to make the most out of search engine rankings.
Your visible copy needs to be written in clear and concise prose. While optimised text may bring visitors to your site, it will not help keep them there. Make sure you get the right balance and don’t over do one or the other.
The same principal applies to links and banners. Try to place them in eye catching places, such as the top of a right hand column. If you can find banners that match your color scheme they will make your site look more professional and keep attention on the actual content of your site.
Make sure your site is compatible with all of the major web-browsers. Internet Explorer’s dominance among web browsers is fading. As such, it is important to make sure that your site is displayed properly in other browsers such as Firefox and Safari.
If you build links to your site, try to enure that they all point to a landing page which clearly states what your site is about, what visitors can get out of it, and clear links to any relevant pages. Don’t clutter landing pages with unnecessary information.
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