- 1st Monday 2013
One of the most frustrating experiences you can have on a Web site is being unable to figure out where to go or where you are. Most Web designers, navigation is a concept we’ve managed to master, but I still find some pretty bad examples out there. To ensure that while embarking on a website design and development, here are the some of the essentials to keep in mind.
If you’re going to put up a website, only do so because you feel you have something of value to offer the general public.
Prepare a mission statement : In a sentence or two, summarize exactly what you are trying accomplish with the site.
Map it out: Outline your site in a flow chart. Draw tables, links and graphics, noting where you want to place any animations or multi-media.
What’s required: Determine the purpose of each page. A strong outline makes it easier to work with a designer. Or, if you plan on using a do-it-yourself design tool, you’ll have a great place to start.
There is a fine line between a well designed site and an over designed site.
Attention: Consider colors and graphics that will get your target customer’s attention. What colors represent your company the best? Is your brand bold and colorful or more subdued?
Consistency: Keep a similar look and feel throughout the site.
Action: Design can help you generate leads, inquiries and land sales. Consider a flash demo of your products or services. Create an online tutorial. Use interactive surveys.
Feedback: Create a rough draft of your home page. Use tables and table backgrounds to illustrate the color of the site, and layout images. Get feedback from friends, family, employees, customers or anyone who is willing to give it a look.
Your content is the backbone of your Website. If you’re a service or solutions oriented business, content is crucial to explain what you’re selling. But the first step, is planning your content.
Mission critical: When you start thinking about what you want to say, reflect on your mission statement. Does it relate back to the mission statement? If your mission statement is to make people laugh, don’t be serious.
Easy on the eyes: Keep sentences short or use bullet points.
Keep it fresh: Update your site and your content regularly. Don’t put something up and leave it there for months or years. Everything changes, so your content should keep up.
4. Service and Support
Every person who visits your site is a potential customer. That’s why it’s a good idea to insert an e-mail link somewhere highly visible on the home page.
Give them an outlet: Reach out to customers and have them reach you. Use customer surveys, online forms and make customers feel they have a voice.
At your service: Provide users with multiple ways to reach you. Take into consideration your service hours and time zones, and allow customers multiple options to inquire about products and services. Consider live support, support downloads, product spec sheets etc.
There are a few commonsense rules to remember here. Buttons to travel around a site should be easy to find – towards the top of the page and easy to identify. They should look like navigation buttons and be well described. The text of a button should be pretty clear as to where it’s taking you. Aside from the common sense, it’s also important to make navigation usable. For example, if you have a rollover sub-menu, ensuring a person can get to the sub-menu items without losing the rollover is important. Similarly changing the color or image on rollover is excellent feedback for a user.