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Designing an Effective Website

A website is an important, critical component of your overall marketing strategy. Design an effective site and you will portray a positive image for your company, engaging visitors and achieving your objectives for the site.

Here are some tips for designing an effective site for your business:

Objective
Before beginning design work on your site, decide on the objective for the site. Is it simply to present a positive image for your company or do you want to elicit a specific response from visitors to the site, such as calling you for more information?

Navigation
Decide on the key pages you want incorporated in your site. Common pages include a home page, “about us” page, products and services pages, frequently asked question page, contact page, and possibly a management team page. Don’t use an excessive number of navigation choices as that may lead to visitor confusion.

Blog
Attach a blog to your site because not only does it provide a platform for communicating useful information to your customers and prospects, but it also assists in search engine optimization – getting better ranking in the search engines.

Usability
Consider the usability of your site. Make your site user friendly. Keep content concise and to the point. Break up content to make it easier to read. Use simple, easy to understand wording. Use headlines and images to break up your content.  Make sure your site loads quickly so that users don’t have to wait a long time for pages to appear. Slow loading sites often negatively impact search engine rankings since search engines like Google are focused on providing an optimized content experience for its users.

Carefully walk through your site and make sure moving through the site doesn’t result in 404 errors indicating a page is not found. Set up your site so that if a 404 error occurs, the message provided to the user is friendlier and visually appealing.

Build a home page that is compelling. Put important content first. When a user arrives at a site, if you don’t grab the user’s attention in 5 seconds, they are more likely to leave your site.

Don’t have an excessive number of navigation buttons or buttons that are difficult to find.

SEO Considerations
Consider your design in terms of effectiveness with search engine optimization. Make sure your navigation text makes optimal use of keywords you want to be ranked for. Avoid the use of large images that could slow down page loading. Make sure the site is W3C compliant. Use a content management system that is easy to configure and deploy from a search engine optimization perspective.  Get your design right the first time because changing the design after a site is launched can negatively harm search engine rankings.

Involve End Users
Don’t leave the design of the site up to technical people such as web designers. Involve non-technical employees of your company to provide feedback about the design. Solicit feedback from them such as how easy the navigation was to use and how easy the content was to read. Before launching the site, share the site with a select group of customers and get their feedback before the site is officially launched.

Some people don’t understand that website design is much more than the visual design of a site. There are many components to an effectively designed site. Understanding those components from all perspectives will result in the creation of a site optimized for both users and by the search engines. If you already have a website, take a fresh look at it from a design perspective since there are many considerations.


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