Your website is often the first and only way potential customers find out about your business. And as website visitors make a decision in the first 6 seconds about whether to stay or leave, it’s vitally important that you present your business in the right way, and give your visitors the information they’re looking for.
Yet so many small businesses make classic mistakes with their site, effectively showing all these customers the door before they’ve even got inside.
So what are the important web design tips you should follow?
1. Make it easy to move around your website
People usually arrive on your website looking for specific information. If they don’t find it quickly they will leave, and have the impression that you’re a disorganized business.
The reason that websites have menus along the top or down the side is because user expect a particular format for websites. Stick to this format, and make the most important information the first thing they see.
Have a think about why people are on your website. Are they looking for your address or contact details? Do they want to know your opening hours? Do the want to know if you stock a particular item? Are they interested in the trade bodies you’re a member of? Answering these questions will help you organise the pages that should be easiest to find.
Here are a few tips
*Try icons. They’re visually appealing and easy to use
*Group related links together, such as ‘your account, support, contact us’ and ‘Ts & Cs, legal, privacy.
*Make it clear to users which page they’re on by using clear headlines
2. Use Clear Calls To Action
What is the aim of your website? Do you want people to buy something? do you want them to get in touch? Do you want them to sign up to your newsletter? The biggest mistake small business websites make is not having a clear call to action that asks there users to commit to something.
Whatever you want your users to do, make it clear by using a call-to-action button that grabs their attention. Here are a few tips:
*Think about the colour, size, shape and position of your call to action. Make it clear, make it stand out, and put it in an obvious place.
*Don’t confuse users by having multiple calls to action. Decide the main thing that you want them to do and stick to it.
3. Pick the right colours
This might seem a little obvious, but choosing the right colours is critical to your website. I’m not just talking about picking those colours that reflect your logo, your brand or your stationary. But it’s about making sure your colours stand out on the page, making it easy for people to read your content.
The right colours can also effective at sorting out the hierarchy of a page. Here’s some ideas:
*Look at how popular websites use colour and contrast to make stuff easy to read and understand.
*Try using size rather than just colour to make important text stand out.
*Test drive a Colour Contrast tool to check your colour choice such as http://snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html
4. Organise Your Content
This is where most small businesses make the biggest mistakes. In a desperate urge to show website visitors how much stuff a business does, many put so many words on their site that it becomes impenetrable to readers.
The truth of it is that most website visitors can’t be bothered to read much text, and will avoid doing so unless it’s absolutely necessary. Even those embarking on a page of text will scan and skip to the end.
So when adding content to your site it’s important to get it into the right hierarchy, making it easy for users to jump to the most relevant section.
Here are three tips:
*Make your font big enough to be easy to read.
*Make significant use of white space, to focus the user on your content
*Make use of titles, subtitles, paragraphs, bullets, block quotes and other tricks to break up long passages.
And never make spelling or grammatical mistakes.
5. Reduce Clutter
This point follows on from content. Generally speaking, the more elements on a page, the harder it is to read. Websites with crammed homepages are difficult for visitors to take in and understand.
And website visitors who leave because they are overwhelmed, are not likely to return soon.
Clutter includes images too – they should only be there to capture attention and guide the user.
Here’s how to reduce clutter:
*With every element on a page, ask yourself the question: ‘can visitors understand this page if I took this away’. If the answer is yes, then you probably don’t need it.
*Make your most important content the easiest to find. Don’t let minor items get in the way of major ones.
*Help your users find what they’re looking for – don’t bog them down with other items like advertisements or promotions.
These are five of my web design tips to make sure your small business website gets settled on the right course. Got any others? Leave a comment below.