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An Effective Website

November 24, 2009

The Internet is a medium with a short attention span. For a website to be effective, it has to keep the interest of its users in the second they glance at your site before they click onto the next one. Here’s how your website can be affective by being catchy, informative and relevant for your target users and beyond…all in a moment.

Have a Good Web Address
Make sure that you get your company’s name as your website’s web address as much as possible. It will make it easier for users to search for online and even remember. If the domain is already registered, try to make the URL short, sweet and easy to remember. Go for a URL name that is connected with the business you’re running

Keep it Organized
To enable your customer to be able to immediately spot the links and resources he or she needs, your website must be organized. What does it mean to be organized? Think of your website as keeping house. If you keep your kitchenware in one shelf, with jewelry in another and garage tools in another, the same goes with a website. If you have a set of links, keep them boxed together at one side of the website. If you want to have an introductory note at the main page, keep it short and sweet.

Avoid making your website too busy. It will definitely overwhelm a first-time visitor. Get rid of animated pictures, loud colors, obnoxious fluorescent effects and too many pictures. Music may seem like a good idea on print, but it’s a huge turn-off for most users.

Flash effects on a website can help make your website more attractive, but it can make loading your website a drag, especially for those with slow internet connections.

Idiot-Friendly Navigation
As mentioned, web users spare only a few seconds when browsing to a website they’ve just visited. You should be able to show them what you’ve got on the menu in those few seconds. Have your set of navigational links placed somewhere prominent on the main page of your website.

Make sure that your visitors don’t get lost while browsing your website, which means limiting your secondary and tertiary links. Each sub-link should have a link back to the main page, so your user wouldn’t have to press “Back” whenever he or she wants to click back to where he or she started. Other people also tend to link back to secondary pages, so it’s important to show people the way back to the main page, where the other links they may be interested in are.

Avoid using horizontal scroll in your website. Limit your website to a vertical scroll—a lot of web users will thank you for it.

Good Content
Once you’ve hooked in your customer to browse your website, the next step is ensuring that you have quality content. If you want to be viewed seriously as a professional company, your content should be informative, relevant and most importantly, well-written. Poor grammar and spelling just won’t fly if you’re a professional website. If you can’t even proofread your website, how will people trust you with their business?

Another important thing to remember is that the Internet is a slightly more relaxed medium than, say, a daily broadsheet. If your website content is too technical, boring and staid, the already-short attention span of your website user will quickly turn to zero. If you can’t assume a casual, conversational tone in your articles, make them informative and concise instead. Present the details, prices and pertinent information about you products in an organized manner. This will encourage the user to look at your other products, since everything is made easier to understand and take in.

Professional Design
There should be a big difference between a professional website and a 13-year-old’s Myspace page. One dimension of an organized website is an organized design aesthetic. A website’s layout and color makes all the difference in making someone feel more comfortable in browsing your website. Simplicity is key, but you’ll be surprised what website designers can do with clean spaces, inviting colors and honest aesthetic.

Optimized graphics means choosing the graphics you use and how to use them. Too-large graphics can lag website load and discourage users with a slower internet connection. Use graphics with a reasonable file size. Use the images that will best work with your company and the website’s design.
Readability is also important in any website. Avoid using fancy websites, and stick to a plain white background. A normal-sized, solid font in a contrasting is also the best to use in any professional website. Remember, you want to be accessible to all ages, which includes those who have trouble seeing too-small fonts.

Consistent design is also important in a website. Design can be different in every page, but make sure that there’s a unifying theme in all of them. That way, your user won’t feel like he or she just wandered into a different website by mistake. It also helps make your website feel more solid and professional.

If you’re still feeling a little lost on what makes an effective website, think back on your own favorite websites. What are the features that you like the best? What do you like about its design, its layout and its overall content?

Now think about the websites that you don’t like. What is it about them that turn you off? What would you do if you had an opportunity to re-do them? Chances are, what makes a website attractive to you are also the very same things that make them attractive to other people. With this little rule of thumb, you should be able to shortlist a couple of features that you would want on your own website. Good luck!