When designing a website, it is important that webmasters ask some general questions before they begin the design process. What Is The Purpose Of Your Website? Many companies use websites to establish their brand. Others use websites as a communication tool. Some companies see websites as sales vehicles and "billboards". Still others use their website as an educational tool. And some may be any combination of the above.
The website must have a purpose in order for it to be effective. What Is It That You Are Trying To Accomplish With The Website? A strong understanding of the website will allow a webmaster to emphasize the action they want the website visitor to take on the website. By defining and understanding the purpose of the website, webmasters and publishers can better structure the information on the website. Information can be provided with the appropriate emphasis and navigation.
An ideal website will lead the web visitor to take the action the webmaster wants. Who Is Your Audience? You must identify and understand your target audience. Understanding your demographic will allow you to cater content specific to that group. What Are The Objectives Of The Website? You also need to determine what the objective of your website is. What are you attempting to accomplish? Are you trying to sell something? Are you looking for downloads, or is sales your real objective? Is your website trying to promote a specific product or service? Do you want your visitors to take a specific action? Is the intent to profit from ad space in general or to have website visitor's click on specific ads? Are you trying to build a brand? Do you want visitors to purchase a product, or provide an email address? When attempting to solicit a specific action, there are some general guidelines that you should follow.
Your website should be designed to solicit the action you desire, so the navigation should intuitively lead the visitor to take the desired action. If clicking a link is the goal, then that link should be clearly indicated and prominent on the page. This will not only help insure that the maximum number of visitors will be able to adequately view and navigate your content, but it will also help prompt those visitors to take the action you wish to have occur. For example: Many software companies struggle with the action they wish to solicit from the website visitor.
Software companies and eBook publishers are often guilty of pushing users to download, at the expense of the actual sale. Some companies prefer to have users download prior to making a purchase decision, while others lose impulse purchasers by only pushing the download rather than the sale. In Order To Maximize The Websites Sales Purpose And Objectives, Follow These Simple Steps. Address Compatibility Issues If a website visitor is unable to view the website's content, they are obviously going to be unable to complete the desired action. The compatibility issues could be related to technology or usability.
Avoid using technologies that require the website visitor to download a plug-in before they can view the website content. If providing content using flash is important to you, you should also provide a flash-free version as well. Also, do not alienate website visitors who might have a disability -- use proper web construct, provide alt tags for images, and avoid using a color scheme that will cause confusion. Define A Clear Navigation Path A website's navigation should provide the visitor with a clear path. Information architecture is the organization and categorization of online content -- the process of creating clarity and organizing online information in a purposeful, and logical way.
Prioritize and emphasize the most important items on the website. Give visitors a clear path to what they are seeking. Each and every page should intuitively provide them links to additional information and purchase options.
Minimize Distractions Minimize choices and other website distractions. Website visitors should be provided a clear path of action. Do not provide the website visitor an abundance of choices -- studies show that a large number of choices often puts the consumer off. It is generally recommended that you provide no more than 3 choices. Keep your message concise and on-topic.
Website visitors will often just scan a webpage rather than reading it, so bulleted lists and headlines might be used to emphasize your message. It may sound like a cliche, but it's the little things that can make the biggest difference. Pay attention to all aspects of your website. Defining the specific website objectives and purpose will help to encourage the desired action or behavior from your website visitors.
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.