With the start of the new year and resolutions, think about your tired website. When was it last updated? Could it attract more traffic to increase business?I do a lot of shopping online (both for products and services) and here is what I look at as I’m viewing the site:
- Does the site convey trust? If the site looks thrown-together or amateur, I wonder where else the company or person has cut corners. Will they process my order in a timely manner? Will they safeguard my credit card information? If the site doesn’t look professional, I move on.
- Is the site easy to navigate? It drives me crazy when the navigation on the home page is so long that I have to scroll and scroll to find the category I want. The best sites have main topics in the main navigation with subtopics listed in a drop-down/flyout or as a secondary topic on the main topic’s page. Large sites should also include a site map to make it easier to find what you need.
- Does the home page give me information or sensory overload? Another pet peeve of mine is the home page that tries to put all the information on one page instead of breaking it up logically. It usually results in page scroll hell: the kind that just seems to go on and on and on. I immediately leave these sites. You may have the greatest product or service in the world, but if I have to scroll forever to find it, you have just lost my business. A good site’s home page will give only enough info to grab the viewer’s attention and make them want to see more! A good site will also have “white space” to rest the eyes. Besides a good web design, I highly recommend that you hire a writer who will help you write compelling copy that will entice viewers. If you need to use animated banners or flash modules on your site, it’s advisable to have a maximum of three loops; more than that and it starts to become distracting and viewers may miss important information. If you have audio, please—I beg you—have an on/off button! And if you use animated gifs, watch the flashing text/lights…if it really bugs my eyes, imagine what it does to someone with epilepsy!
- Is important information at the top of the page? I’ve come across quite a few sites that locate their search feature at the bottom of a very long page. Not only do I have to scroll forever to get to it, but it’s easy to miss this feature if it’s at the bottom. Another good idea is the ability to view a shopping cart at the top of the page if the site is selling a product. Contact information is another feature I like to see at the top of the page, especially if it’s for a service and I want to contact the company or person to get information about my particular need.
- Are your site colors appealing? The right color combinations make your site more appealing to the eye…which in turn keeps viewers coming back instead of fleeing in terror. You also want good contrast between large blocks of text and background colors. You don’t want viewers to get eye strain and give up looking at your products or services! One of my biggest pet peeves is the use of color…specifically colored patterns. Trying to read text against a colored-pattern background makes my eyes cross.
- Can you be found in the major search engines? Many sites lack structure and/or code that makes them friendly to web crawlers (the main way search engines find new sites). If you can’t be indexed by the search engines, you’re losing business! Sure, everyone wants to be at the top of the search results…but it’s hard to get to that point. By using some key techniques, you can at least be in the first couple of pages.
These are just a few things to think of when evaluating your website for the new year. If your website could use an update in any of these areas, I can help! Just visit www.lolaludesign.com and complete the information request on the contact page to get started.