Business owners must make their websites as easy as possible to navigate, or they risk losing customers to businesses that understand how to simplify. Five website design elements in particular are important in attracting and retaining customers. Read on to find out what those qualities are, and how they can help you reach your goals.
1. Make sure the Design Works for All
While you want to use color on your website, don’t use it to highlight your call to action – remember, many people cannot distinguish or see colors. Likewise, text that is too small can be difficult for some people to read. Website design sometimes goes awry when well-meaning designers assume that what looks good to them will look good to everyone. Use accessibility standards – see the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative for more information on why accessibility matters and how to improve site accessibility – to increase site access for all users. On a related note, test site design in all of the major browsers. Don’t assume a default browser for your target audience. If your website doesn’t work in Internet Explorer or Chrome, you’re missing a major market segment.
2. Keep Navigation Clear.
A cluttered navigation menu makes a website a nightmare to navigate. Select strong, clear and brief navigation terms. For example, instead of using the long “Our Community Partners,” which could break into two lines in the navigation bar, try “Partnerships.” You can always explain more clearly on the web page, but the navigation should be short and simple. Smashing Magazine offers several examples of elegant, clear navigation menus for inspiration.
3. Be Brief.
A wordy website will bore users before they complete a conversion. While you need to provide enough information to make a user want to convert, do so succinctly within the navigation and the website text. Streamline your navigation menu to make it concise. If you’re not sure whether your brief terms are clear, try a card sort, a basic usability test that asks users to group terms together. If seven out of 10 participants think “Our Story” should fall under the “About” column, but you wanted it under the “Products” column, you know the label isn’t clearly expressing its meaning.
4. Keep Buttons Visible but Unobtrusive.
If you rely on a button for your conversion, you want it to be easily distinguishable from other page elements. However, a large ugly button can wreck site design. Aim for keeping your call to action button clearly visible, but not so visible that it dominates a page.
5. Use Images Wisely.
Images can drive conversion, but only if used wisely. Budding designers may tend to pack too much imagery onto a page, which can look confusing and result in longer page-load times. Hire a reputable web design company to create your site, even if you have someone in-house who can manage the day-to-day operations.
When it comes to designing a website, don’t try to save on costs by doing it in-house, if your team lacks the artistic and technical know-how to do it well. You have only seconds to make a great first impression with potential customers, so consider a strong site design an investment in your future returns.