Designing to the Point- 4 Steps to an Effective Website
People – especially people of business – want websites. If you asked them why, most would say that they want to “Attract more clients”, “Generate customers”, or “Show off my business”.
Imagine that you are an architect. Someone asks you to build them an office. You ask, well, what do you want in an office? The equivalent answer to “Attract more clients” is: “I want to be able to put my employees there so they can work.”
As you can see, this is not a helpful answer. How many employees do you have? What kind of resources do they need? What kind of environment should they be provided?
The same goes for a website. The following are some basic steps to designing a better and more focused website that will accomplish the goal of your client.
Step One: Define a specific goal.
Some good example goals are:
- A phone call from the visitor
- An online response from the visitor (email, comments, etc.)
- To answer questions the visitor may have (provide information, thorough FAQ section)
You cannot simply say that the goal of a website is “to generate more clients”. Simply owning a website does not mean anyone will visit. That is a marketing issue. Once you have the potential client on your site, what do you want them to do or what do you want to do for them? That should be the main goal of your site.
This goal will change depending on what kind of organization you are running. If you provide an online service you may want them to Register for your service. If you run a company with an actual store-front, you may want them to visit the store. If you provide consultation services, you may want them to call you, or fill out a feedback or contact form.
Step Two: Define the steps.
Now that you have a goal, you need to define what steps the visitor needs to take in order to reach that goal. Say that you are a freelance photographer and want them to contact you via a feedback form. The following may be an example:
Visitor arrives on site:
- Answer the question: What do you do? (Landing Page or About Us)
- Answer the question: Why choose you? (Portfolio)
- Answer the question: What are my options? (Services)
- Answer the question: How can I contact you? (Contact Page)
You have just determined all of the pages you need! Those should be the predominant pages in the main navigation. Any and all other sections (such as a blog) are secondary, and should be featured smaller in a separate area- they should not distract the visitor from the main goal.
Step Three: Sometimes Less is More
When designing, every time you add a graphic or words ask yourself: “Does this benefit the goal?” If the answer is anything but a resounding YES, then take it out. Frills may look nice but if a frill doesn’t specifically benefit the design or goal it should be taken out.
Step Four: Usability Testing
Once you have integrated your new design, take it for a test-run with Internet non-savvy friends and see how easy it is for them to get around. Sit them down to a computer and give them the URL and give them a specific scenario that they can role-play.
Don’t intercept any of their mistakes and don’t interrupt the process. Simply be quiet, offer no help and see where they get confused and perhaps afterward ask them their opinions.
If you found these tips helpful, or if you have any suggestions yourself, please leave them in the comments!
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