If your website is to work for you it must have:
- High quality, relevant images
- Great copy that’s scanable, informative and interesting
- Clear navigation
Of course, it also needs to be optimised for the search engines (an on-going process), but that’s a whole different subject. For this post we want to concentrate on the look and presentation of your website and how you can improve it to make people want to poke around.
Let’s start from the top.
When someone finds your website they want to find out instantly whether they’ve landed on a site that can help them.
Make sure your company name, strapline and logo are at the top of your website.
The text should then instantly grab them and tell them what you’re going to do for them. Please resist the urge to start off with “Welcome…we’ve been in business for 25 years…”, it will make your visitor run for the hills. They only want to know what you can do for them, so make sure you tell them.
This opening as to be powerful, but that doesn’t mean you should fill it will lots of complex words, phrases and jargon – that tends to show you as a company that’s obsessed with its own importance. Keep your language simple and succinct, regardless of who your audience is.
A clear and simple navigation bar is vital if your visitors are to find their way around your website.
Stick to simple page descriptions such as ‘About Us’, ‘Services’, ‘Case Studies’ etc., so your visitors easily find the information they want.
The other aspect about navigation is the use of hyperlinks. If your copy is full of them, your visitors won’t know which way to turn, so keep them to a minimum and make movement around your website as intuitive as possible.
Earlier we mentioned the importance of using plain, simple English on your website, but you also need to make sure it’s laid so reading it is effortless.
The is achieved by including plenty of white space on your page. Taking this post as an example, you can see that I’ve used lots of short paragraphs and sub headings to help you, the reader, find the information you need. The white space breaks up the text making it appear easier to digest. But it’s not just layout that you need to consider, colour also comes into play.
Have you noticed the number of websites these days that are using grey text on a white background? Yes, they look very modern, but for some readers this can pose problems because of the lack of contrast. Try and stick to high contrasts, like black on white, to make it easier for people of all ages to read what you have to say.
As with everything in life the most important stuff should come first.
When laying out your text, prioritise the order in which it will appear with the main benefits first leading on to the features and finally any other supporting information you have.
This will make sure the reader is hit with the important facts (the benefits) first, which will ultimately help them make their buying decision.
If you leave these until the end, you run the risk of losing them before they reach them.
As you can see, an effective website is a lot more than just an eye-catching design. Every aspect of your site, from its content to it’s images, layout and navigation, will have an impact on its success.
Take a few minutes out now to look at your website. Does it tick all the boxes, or is there room for improvement?