What Not To Do When Designing a Web Page
The World Wide Web is a network of millions of web pages. Some are fun, some are frivolous and some are designed for the purpose of selling a product or creating a good image for a business or organization. Since there are so many sites out there in cyberspace, some of them are bound to be designed poorly and some of them stand out above the rest. Actually, it is more accurate to say that the majority of them are designed poorly and the few that rise to the top actually cause users to stop and take notice.
So, what separates the good from the bad? What catches your eye and what makes you want to turn and run, or click to the next page as fast as possible? Here are some very common errors that people make when designing web pages. These are aimed specifically at businesses that are attempting to sell products or organizations that are building their reputation online. If your page is just fun for your own enjoyment, don't sweat it. But if you actually have a goal to achieve with your site, you can learn from these mistakes to do your best and make it happen.
Mistake #1: Designing a page with yourself in mind instead of your customers. Let's say you are going into a job interview. One of the best ways to turn a job interview into a job offer is to talk about the way you can help the company succeed. Instead of rambling on about your past achievements, you will be a much more appealing candidate if you can show a company how your experiences will bring the company success. However, most people going into a job interview tend to talk endlessly about themselves and how great they are, rather than showing their potential employer how they can contribute to the company's bottom line.
This web page mistake runs along the same vein. All kinds of sites out there boast about their products, services or company. They claim to be the â€œpremierâ€ company in their industry or their locality. All the content and graphics are aimed at displaying the greatness of what they have to offer. This same misguided mindset will cause companies to create sites that are clearly for the purpose of generating sales rather than giving a potential customer something of interest.
The problem with this is that when a user looks at this page, they become quickly bored and move on. If it is obvious that your site is only designed to push products without providing anything else of interest, or if all a user sees is propaganda and factoids about your company, it is unlikely that you will see the results that you are seeking with your site. If you want to inspire a user to action, then you need to show them how your company, products and services will meet their needs and help them. Give them some free and interesting information about your products or industry in general. The best way to avoid this mistake is to think about looking at your site from your customer's point of view and make it as attractive as possible to them. (Read more about Designing for your Target Audience in another article.)
Mistake #2: The page begins with â€œWelcome to...â€ This just looks amateurish and ridiculous. An established company with an online business and reputation does not need to welcome a user to their site. They should assume that a potential customer has clicked on their link and ventured onto their site purposefully and does not need to be reminded of where they are. This mistake is compounded if your welcome is just a "splash page" that requires the user to make another click in order to "enter" the site. It's like making a guest ring two doorbells to get in your house. Give the potential customer what he came for right away.
Mistake #3: The purpose of the site is not immediately obvious. Internet users tend to be fickle and jump around from page to page quickly. This is why it's called â€œsurfingâ€ the web. In order to get a surfer to stick around and ride the rockin' wave that is your web page, you need to let them know why they should bother to take a look. Keep in mind Mistake #1 because you don't want to blow a user out of the water with all kinds of boasting about your products, but you do want them to know what products you are offering and to see that your site will provide some valuable information about what they are seeking. If you can provide this within the first 4 seconds after a user clicks onto your site, then you will probably have their attention for at least a few more minutes. In order to convert that visit to an actual sale, it will take more than just a first impression, but you need to get them to check out your page long enough to see the great stuff that you can provide for them. (There is more on Clean Layout in another article.)
Mistake #4: Visitors are not given a reason to come back to your site. Let's say you avoid the mistakes listed above and actually get some customers to come to your web page. One of the best ways to keep your e-commerce business growing is to encourage repeat business. In order to do that, you may need to get a little bit creative with what you offer. Be sure that you update your site regularly with some new content. Consider having a contest or a give-away that will make folks want to check back to see what's going on. And by all means, provide excellent customer service. These things can make a first time visitor a regular shopper at your site.
Mistake #5: Not designing for the major Internet browsers. Some Internet users prefer to go online using different browsers including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. If your site and its components aren't formatted correctly for all the major browsers, then you are going to lose people right away. When a user opens your site with Firefox and everything loads slowly and looks funky, it is more likely that they will move onto the next page instead of taking the time to open your page with Internet Explorer so that they can see the site as you intended.
If you keep your business goals and your customer's needs in mind when designing your e-commerce site, you will have a much better chance of producing something that can turn a profit. Keep all the wild and crazy color schemes and awe-inspiring special effects for your personal blog or social networking page. Remember that your business site is just like a store on main street and you need to make it an inviting space with well-planned displays to be successful.
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