The way you design your site has a lot to do with keeping visitors on your pages. If you do it right, you will give people extra reasons to come back to your website. However, if your site design is sub-par you may risk losing visitors and potential customers.When you are new in an industry, the lack of experience always has something to say. This doesn’t mean that experienced web designers can’t make mistakes from time to time. That’s why there are a few core tips to creating websites that all designers adhere to.
Let the User be in Control
Avoid asking people to register in order to view your content. Let’s face it, this is not necessary and it’s a waste of time for the reader. They are looking for information and they want it fast. Many people will just go away if they have to spend minutes registering to a site without even knowing if it has valuable info.
There are lots of browsers available out there and it’s impossible to make your site work perfectly in each of them. However, your site should be compatible with the most popular ones like Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Internet Explorer, so that many users can access your content.
Don’t cloak links because people should be able to see where the link is going so that he decides if he will click it or not. Also, if you’ve got music on your website, don’t turn it on automatically. Let the user decide if they want to listen or not.
Let the User Access Information Fast
People want to see the information quickly, so avoid intro pages that tell visitors to click a link just to enter the “real” site. This is an unnecessary step. If you have your site in multiple languages this type of intro it may be useful, but you can always place a language selector at the top corner of the main page which links with the translated versions of the site.
Don’t forget to make the content easily readable and scannable by using relevant headings. Not only is this practice user-friendly but it’s also search engine friendly as well. Use standard headings rather than bolding fonts and increasing the size. While it may look the same it doesn’t have the same effect on SEO. Avoid the use of fancy or tiny fonts that are unreadable. Also, blinking text is out-dated and makes your site look like it came straight out of the 1980’s, so try to avoid any cliché formatting. I want to understand what the article says without being blinded by your site.
Position the elements on your site so that the user knows, at a glance, where everything is and how to navigate. Unique designs are one thing, but if the user can’t figure out how to access all of your content they’ll almost certainly leave. If you feel the need to include CAPTCHA codes, be sure to make the letters readable and don’t make it too difficult for the user to validate. There’s a fine line between security and pesky.
If you keep these basic tips in mind, your web design will be more effective, more user friendly, more search engine compatible and will provide everyone with a better experience (and you with a better bottom line).
Daniel Ruyter has been in web design and development as a project manager for nearly 5 years. In 2011 he co-founded the Marketing and Development firm Alpha Tree Marketing.