Tips & Techniques for a Better Website
What makes a good website?
While a good website can enhance and boost your business, a bad one can actually have a negative effect. The question then becomes, what makes a good website?
The answer is, a great user experience.
What does this mean? Create an experience worthy of the attention you're demanding. Below are a few tips and techniques to help you do this.
Define Your Audience
One of the first things to do, in the pre-planning stages, is to get a very clear idea of who your target audience is. This will help determine many choices including the structure and "feel" of the site, the content you put on it, and the avenues you might choose to drive people to it. A website for teen-aged video gamers, for example, would have a totally different look and feel than one geared for senior citizen pet owners.
Once you define the primary users of your site, gear everything in the site to make them to want to stay, explore and come back to it again and again. A simple idea, but one that is too often overlooked.
Define the Purpose
Knowing what you want the user to do once they are on your website is also vitally important. You got them there, now what? By having a clear objective, the website can be geared towards having the user move towards that objective.
Is the website merely there to inform? Do you want the user to make a purchase? Several purchases? Is the site geared to intrigue the viewer enough to sign up for a service? Or hire you for a job?
Once the purpose is clarified, you can then design the website to lead the user towards that goal. Good websites will show and tell the user what to do, with engaging graphics, images and other content.
One of the most important aspects to consider when first designing a new website is the navigation. Navigation that is confusing, difficult to find and/or inconsistent adds a damper to the user experience and could be enough to drive them away. Pages should always be easily accesible and navigation buttons should be clearly visible and glitch-proof. Anticipating the user's needs and including intuitive links and multiple ways of arriving at the same place are other considerations.
Now that you know your audience, you can determine the style or "feel" of the website. Show the user the unique qualities of your product, service or person. Let them feel the difference between you and the rest of the world. You want to keep the tone and theme consistent so as not to confuse, but by all means make the website "distinctively yours".
Entice the User to Interact
Let the user create something, change something, play something or at least touch or press something. A simple "play" button is better than a self-playing movie. The more you can get the user to interact with the website, the deeper the bond between them and your brand.
The Intro Sequence
The Intro-sequence of a website can be a very effective communication tool. It can pull people in and create a positive image in a matter of seconds. It is a courteous welcome and a reason to stay. It is often the first thing a visitor will see, so having one done correctly is vital in setting a positive tone for the rest of the site. One of the best ways to do this is to inform and entertain the viewer in a visually attractive way. Never bore or frustrate. That is the quickest way to lose a user.
Surprise & Delight
There's a good chance the user has seen many, many other websites before yours, thus an element or two that surprises and delights will make your website special and something they'll remember. Look for opportunities to create the unexpected. Entertain them. Beguile them. Fill their imaginations with magical moments..
Very too often, humor is completely left out of the websites. Now, it doesn't necessarily have to be about clowns and pigs in tutus. Subtle jokes, irony, self-depracations could be sprinkled here and there to add spice, levity, fun and lightheartedness. We all need that every once in a while in our lives (even just to keep our sanity)!
Be human. Write like you talk and put your name on it. Don't use meaningless jargon. Tell a story, a true one, one that resonates. Be real. Let people relate and connect to you as a person.