Website Design Elements That You Don't Want to Be Without
 

Your website is a gateway to your company. The design of your website will give potential customers and clients an impression of what your company offers the moment they see it. If your don't capture their attention quickly, they may look elsewhere to find what they need. To capture and hold your visitors attention your website should be designed in a way that reinforces what you are about, has a clear purpose, and has an architecture that helps people to navigate easily.


Brand Perception
Websites that are successful in establishing a positive brand perception have several common characteristics.

A Clean Look. A clean look, with a considerable amount of white space surrounding the content, will provide visitors with a light and airy feeling that will help them to feel comfortable during their time on your website.

An Effective Navigation System. An effective navigation system is straight forward, easy to find, and easy to use. It should appear in the same place on every page of your website, and link to every one of the main indexes on your website. When an effective navigation system is in place, your visitors will develop a sense of familiarity with your website. When they want to find something, they'll know right where to look.

Attractive Graphics/Photographs. Attractive images can enhance your content and add visual interest to your website. My favorite websites for finding free and inexpensive royalty-free images are:

iStockPhoto - Contributors to iStockPhoto meet the toughest of quality standards, and therefore the images you find on this website are of excellent quality.

ClipArt.com - You can create an account, and download all the images you want for 7 days for a low membership price.

Wikipedia.org - Many of the images on Wikipedia.org are in the public domain because the copyright has expired. If you see something that you like, click on the image to find out if you are allowed to use it. If the licensing indicates that the work is in the public domain, simply right click on the image and save it to your desktop.


I'm always telling people that good design matters, and now I have the numbers to prove it.

I recently redesigned a website for a company that had a poorly designed, outdated look. I gave them a fresh new look, and then Google Analytics measured my success. Page views went up 38%, time on site went up 35%, and bounce rate (which tracks visitors that leave after looking at only one page) went down by a whopping 45%!


Attractive Color Pallet
Colors set a mood, attract attention, and make statements. They energize, or cool down. By selecting the right color pallet for your website you can create an ambiance of elegance, warmth or youthfulness. Colors are a powerful design element if they are used effectively. Since color confronts your visitor before your content does, it's important to make a good first impression.

If you are planning on using a website designer you can browse websites, find what interests you, and send your designer the URL of the website that has a color pallet that is right for your site.

When I'm planning a new website, I visit other websites within the same niche looking for color pallets that look visual interesting, and will support my branding efforts. It's important to remember that you don't have to reinvent the wheel, you just have to find out who has the best wheel, and adapt it to your needs.


Purpose
What do you want people to do when they visit your website? Your first step toward achieving your goals should be to decide what you would like your visitors to do when they visit your homepage. Once you have defined what you want them to do, you will need to figure out the best way to get them to do it.

The following illustration shows us how internet users scan a webpage. Studies indicate that website visitors fixate first on the upper left hand corner of the page before moving to other areas. The right hand column is the last place they see. By placing important page elements in positions that visitors fixate on the most, you are more likely to encourage a desired response.

Identify the primary goals for your website, and then map out an effective layout for your homepage.


Architecture
How many clicks do you think it should take for your visitor to get from Point A to Point B? The answer is no more than four. Keeping the architecture of your website "flat", following the home>category>brand>product principle, will not only help your visitors navigate to your product or content easily, but it will help tremendously with your search engine optimization efforts.

The fewer the levels, and the greater the cross-linking within the site, the more successful you'll be in distributing high page rank throughout your site's architecture.


by Andrew Fling

 

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