"If all things are relatively equal, I tend to do business with the companies that have better marketing graphics, slicker sites and toll free numbers."
Your website may be your visitor's first impression of you and your business. The second a visitor views your site, colors, images, fonts, text and other visuals will bring out certain feelings and thoughts. You want to be sure you are sending out the right messages that are inline with what your niche is expecting and how you want to be perceived.
1. Your website should appear professional, clean and simple.
When you walk into a physical store, you are more apt to buy from a store that is clean, easy to walk around the aisles, sells quality products that are neatly placed on shelves or racks, and has a friendly yet well-established feel. Your website should have a similar look and feel. Avoid clutter, allow for white space around items and make it easy for the visitor to move around.
2. Your navigation should be easy and simple.
If your visitors are having trouble finding what they are looking for immediately, it is much too easy for them to return to their search and find a competitor with easier navigation. Keep navigation in a prominent location with simple to use tabs and links.
3. Select colors that are attractive and comfortable for the eye to look at.
Learn what colors your audience prefers, as well as the impression you are trying to set off. If you want to relax your visitors, then use subtle and light colors. If you want to excite your visitors, then use vibrant colors. Stick to colors and shades that work well together. Use a color wheel to see which colors complement each other.
4. Create a branding statement and utilize that statement throughout the whole website.
Your business should have a special brand that makes you stand out from competitors. Your brand is your unique look that grabs your visitor's attention. Place your brand prominently near the top of your home page or landing page. Make sure to keep you brand throughout the whole site to give everything a consistent look and feel.
5. Display what your business is all about.
It only takes visitors about 10 seconds to know whether they want to leave your site or continue viewing it. Make sure that they learn what your business is all about within those first 10 seconds. If your url or business name doesn't easily explain your business purpose, then make sure to create a tagline and use that as part of your branding statement.
6. Make sure that important "calls to action" are in places where the user can see them.
Most visitors will not read your entire home page. People tend to peruse a web page quickly. The use of colors and bolding can make important words and phrases stand out more and catch the reader's attention. Make sure that important links or buttons are easy to see, stand out, and are not too far down the page.
7. Prominently display quality graphics and images.
Graphics and other images on your website will grab your visitor's attention much more than text. Make sure that your images are high quality graphics and are optimized for fast loading.
8. Use photos to display the quality of your products or services.
Since visitors cannot pick up your products or see a body of your work, they rely on images and graphics. Use attractive images and photos that are large enough to show important details.
9. Use stand-alone web pages.
Unlike a magazine or catalog, you cannot predict which web pages your visitor will read first, next, or last. Avoid having content in your pages that is dependent on your visitor having seen another page first. Make sure each page can stand on its own.
10. Test your navigation and links.
Test your completed design by showing it around to others. See how they navigate. Ask open-ended questions to get a feel for how they perceive your website. Are they having trouble finding certain features of your site?