5 Elements of Great Website Design

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    A lot of times, before we can implement our content management system, our clients ask us to redesign their website.  While we are always happy to provide this service to our clients, I wanted to cover a few of the aspects of what makes a website design successful.  It goes far beyond pretty pictures and colors and dives into what truly makes your business work, focusing on your business goals, objectives and visitor behavior. Here are five items to take into consideration before and during your website redesign process.

    1. A Website Should Be Clearly Branded and Aligned with Business Goals

    All too often a website can become outdated and out of line with the company that it represents.  As your business grows, matures, and inevitably changes, your website should reflect those business goals immediately.  Keep the focus of your website on your primary offerings, which will help clearly communicate your position, your brand, and your value proposition.

    Tips for Clearly Branding A Website:

    • Your logo should be visible on every page of your site, preferably in the same location (and linked back to your homepage)
    • Each business goal should have a clearly labeled section of the website
    • Consistently use the same tag lines that are familiar to your brand

    2. A Website Should Be Easily Used by First Time Visitor

    Using an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, you should be able to see how many of your visitors are new, and how many are return visitors.  Keeping your websites design focus on simplicity and usability will help the first-timer navigate your website and hopefully find what they are looking for (contact info, product info, service offerings, etc).  When in doubt, subscribe to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). 

    Tips to Improve User Experience (UX):

    This can be difficult, but try to take yourself out of the day to day mindset of your current schedule.  You know everything about your company, but your visitor (especially first-timer) doesn’t. The following things can help increase the value of the user experience:

    • Simple language
    • Clearly labeled sections of the website
    • Easy to navigate menus can all help increase the value of the user experience. 
    • Say what you need to say in a sentence rather than a paragraph

    3. A Website Should Be Designed with Conversion in Mind

    Today’s websites are more powerful than ever when it comes to increasing sales and leads.  Your website’s design is an integral part in getting people from “website visitor” to “prospective buyer”.  To do this, each page should have its own conversion element that allows a user to interact with your website and take the next step in the business relationship.

    Tips for Improviing Website Conversion:

    • Keep the conversion elements above the fold.  If they are in plain view, they are more likely to be clicked on.
    • Use big buttons and bright (complimentary) colors to attract attention
    • Keep your online forms simple (asking for too much info is intrusive)

    4. A Website Should Prioritize Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    On-page search engine optimization (SEO) is important, not only for search engines, but for users.  On-page SEO can be looked at as the foundation of organization of your site.  Clearly labeling pages with Title Tags and nicely designed H1 tags can help users flow through to their desired content, increasing the amount of page views and reducing bounce rate at the same time. 

    Tips to improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

    • Utilize text based menus (not images)
    • Clearly label each page with Title Tags, H1 Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Alt Text
    • Don’t rely on Flash, as search engines and mobile devices don’t play well with it
    • Think of your website in an outline format and mimic that same page structure and hierarchy for your sitemap 

    5. A Website Should Be Professional

    This should go without saying, but your website often times crafts the first impression of your company.  If you haven’t looked at redesigning your site in a couple of years, put yourself in a prospective buyer's shoes and visit your site.  Would you buy from you?  Your website should be impressive, clearly state your message, and be up to date with the latest information. What does your current website say about your company? 

    Tips to Help with Website Professionalism:

    • Utilize a professional graphic designer, not your brother’s wife’s 2nd cousin that took a class one time.  Just keep in mind that you are going to get what you pay for.
    • Employ the use of a content management system that allows you to keep your website up to date without relying on a technical person.
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