In today’s global marketplace, it’s not simply enough to just have a digital presence. To capitalize on opportunity and captivate real, live, human readers, an optimized, functional, interactive website is a must. Unfortunately, the Internet is swarming with poor website designs that miss both the technical and content mark. Worse yet, clients and developers alike continuously contribute to the current outbreak of design delinquency in equal measure.
It’s time to end ugly websites, once and for all. Let’s take a look at how clients and developers perpetrate this trend of low-quality websites and pinpoint new design and development standards that will help end this vicious cycle of “all-surface-no-substance” websites.
A client’s unrealistic expectations can doom a website to fail before the design process even begins.
Unfortunately, many clients have limited knowledge of what a website should look like, and more importantly, what a functional, intentional website can deliver. They underestimate the value of going beyond esthetics with their sites, assuming that build success relies solely on an appealing interface. Clients believe that, as long as their site “looks good,” it will float in cyberspace, effectively extending brand reach while magically attracting millions of interested users and converting them into customers.
The truth is, that’s not how website magic works.
To deliver digital results, a website must offer an engaging, dynamic user experience. Yes, graphics are critical to the design process. However, to optimize success, your site must provide more than compelling graphics. Your developer is or, at least should be working hard behind the scenes for you, creating a sophisticated infrastructure of both site and SEO functionality that must be developed and tested before going live. That is where the website magic truly begins.
A client’s budget expectations can also play a major role in launching an inferior website. When it comes to promoting your brand, it’s important to remember that you ultimately get what you pay for. Effective, intuitive website design is complicated. But the return is well worth the investment. So, clients, invest already. And trust your developer’s insight, talent, and experience as you navigate through the process to a final design that doesn’t just look great, but also achieves all of your critical online marketing goals.
Of course, clients aren’t the only ones perpetuating bad websites. Developers themselves can also contribute to the slew of poorly-designed, ineffective sites plaguing the Internet. How? It often starts by treating must-have digital marketing features as “extras” when offering site packages to clients.
Not cool, developers. Not cool.
Developers, this is the time you up your game and raise the bar on acceptable industry standards. No more static, one-dimensional tactics that render a site into a mere Powerpoint presentation (aka ugly website). Going forward, refuse to work on a design that isn’t multidimensional and fully-functional. Every project you take on should have all necessary digital marketing functions to elevate both owner and user experience.
Website Feature Checklist
1. Clear Call-To-Action
Very simply put, when the perfect visitor comes to your website, what do you hope to achieve, and make sure you can achieve just that.
It’s important for a client to choose one MAJOR call to action service that they want any visitor to land on. The developer must then ensure that Call to Action is part of the hero image, placed in the centre of the landing page too. Make it as clear as possible. Upon visiting the website, what is it that you’re offering? Is it a product or a service. The CTA should precisely be about this. Simple easy to understand call to action with a click that sends you to the page where you want the visitor to land.
2. Keep it simple, stupid, silly
A website shouldn’t require a mathematical calculator to figure out which direction to view and where to look to find what the visitor is looking for. Keep it very simple and stupid. Another aspect of ‘simple’ is using terminology and words that people will easily understand. Best example is the top menu that should bear words like; Home, About, Services, Contact.
3. Just say no to stock images.
Whenever I visit a website and all I see are stock images, I cannot take you seriously as a website. Even for beginner websites, I strongly discourage use of stock images. If you are going to use stock images, don’t make them look like stock images, re-touch, edit as you wish and add some personality to them.
4. Be consistent.
You’re trying to create a brand identity online, it has to be symmetrical; fonts have to be the same on all pages, headers should all be the seam colour and the same size, buttons for example call to action buttons should remain the same colour, the same shape on every single page.
5. Easy to navigate.
Keep the menu simple and easy to access. Example menu in the top, and in the footer, keep it simple. Avoid using a hamburger menu on a desktop version of website. If you have a picture for example that links to a service, link the whole area (picture, text, and button), to make navigation easy.
6. Use keywords.
Use keywords throughout the website. This is key when it comes to SEO optimisation.
7. Easy to find contact information.
Ensure you have a contact page at the right corner of your website. Contact information is vital for most companies. If you’re looking to generate leads or to sell a product or service, your users and potential buyers are looking for your contact.
8. Limit the number of clicks.
Is information on your website easily accessible? How many clicks will a user go through to get to your contact information for example? The same goes for ecommerce websites, why should you build a seven step checkout process for a website? If a three step checkout is possible, then stick with that. Don’t make things more difficult for you users.
9. Stop building websites for yourself.
The website is not for you, but rather for your potential clients. You’re the owner, founder, master-minder, but not the enduser of the website. So develop the website with the user in mind. Do not over complicate your website.
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