Most businesses can benefit from a good, online presence. Whether a website is used as an online portfolio and contact method or a more complex customer management and shopping cart doesn't matter. What matters is that your website matches the professionalism of your organization. Many websites that fail to make the impact expected fail because they are inaccessible or simply look unprofessional. The effectiveness of a website design comes down to a lot more than colors and code.
Quick To Load
Pages and page elements must be quick to load. A surfer's attention span can be measured in seconds, and very few of them. Bearing in mind that while high speed Broadband connections have become much more popular, there are still a large number of people using 56k dialup modems. Masses of graphics and multiple streaming videos that play automatically will make a page slow to load. Poor design and coding can also cause a page to load slowly, along with an overloaded server, and excessive traffic.
Web site accessibility is vital and there are a number of facets that should be considered. At its core, accessibility means that the site should not be prone to regular outages. These are usually caused by unstable host servers but can be caused by poor programming and maintenance. Your site should also be accessible to people regardless of disabilities, usually overcome by providing the option to increase text size or have an audio version of your site. Check your site loads properly in all browsers, on all systems, to ensure the greatest possible level of accessibility.
Site navigation needs to be simple and easily visible. If you intend to attract visitors from the search engines then navigation menus also need to be accessible for the search engine spiders. Text links are usually best, but if you use Flash menus or images, then include a sitemap and link to it directly from your homepage. This will help people that are looking for specific information, and the search engines appreciate the effort too.
Clean and Crisp
While partially a design element, keeping your site clean and clutter free also assists visitors and helps improve your site's performance. Too much clutter distracts users' attentions away from the main point of the page. If there eye is caught by a flashing banner at the side of the page then most visitors will give up trying to read the main content and look for another site.
Functional and Intuitive
Depending on the purpose of your website, it needs to fulfill the desired functions. If your website is an informative website with contact details and some basic details then the functions are relatively limited. However, if you are selling products, then use recognized and user-friendly shopping cart software. Try to limit the number of clicks a user has to make to get from the beginning to the end of the purchase process. The more clicks your visitors have to make, the less likely they are to make them.
Everything from graphics to photos and menus to videos are considered content. Even advertisements for other websites that are used to monetize your pages can be considered web content. Ensure that all content is relevant and is beneficial to your visitors. If there is no real value in including a two minute video clip, then remove it. This will help make the page quicker to load, more accessible, and cleaner. It will also ensure that your visitors are not distracted from the content on the rest of the page.
The Important Website Design Factors
It can be tempting to try and include as much information and as many features and design elements on a page as possible. This is a temptation that is best avoided in the vast majority of cases. Surfers want access to relevant information, and they want to access that information as quickly and painlessly as possible. This means quick loading pages, an accessible site and good navigation options. You should also ensure that the pages are not too cluttered, but are still functional and provide high quality content.