Keep your website simple. It has been shown time and time again that when people have too many choices they, leave. Here are some tips to keep in mind when designing your website:
1. Use clear, simple, and logical words and phrases for labeling menus. Regardless of whether you’re selling high-tech scientific equipment or e-books titled, “How to Boil Water,” keep your language simple and consistent. Remember, people with different needs and perspectives will visit your site so know why they buy and make it easy for everyone to find what they’re looking for.
2. Categorize your content logically. Categorize your website’s content so it makes sense to your visitors whether that’s by products, services or tasks. Then you can further organize those menus alphabetically, chronologically, or geographically. If possible, organize your content in more than one way so your visitors can use either method.
3. Make Speed a Priority. Your site should load in less than 10 seconds (even using a sluggish 56k modem). Use smaller, compressed images and files and don’t use elements like animation, large banners, or other special effects unless they add a real “wow” or are absolutely necessary (and even then use them sparingly).
4. Adjust your browser settings. More and more your visitors will be viewing your site from a variety of different devices which will affect the way they see your pages. Ask your web developer to optimize your site to accommodate different browsers, then double check how your pages look at: www.anybrowser.com (or download several onto your computer (e.g. Internet Explorer, FireFox, Mozilla and Netscape).
5. Use no-surprise navigation devices. Creativity is a wonderful thing but not when it comes to your website’s navigation. Make your website’s navigation intuitive for your visitors by using standard elements and placing them in expected areas. For example:
- Hyperlinks (live links to internal or external web pages) should be underlined in blue and lead to an html document (e.g. www.thenameofyourwebsite.com.)
- Use standard phrases like, “user name” and “password” to verified visitors’ identities
- A shopping cart leading to a virtual checkout process should be in place for all online purchases
- Prominently display main page menu links on the top and/or left hand side of the page
- Place subordinate menu links at the bottom of the page
- Test your internal links regularly to make sure they’re not broken or sending your visitors to the wrong page.