What really counts in Web design? Graphics? No, not really. Color scheme? Nope. Typeface, editorial style, or underlying technology? No, no, and no. For your Web site to truly achieve its goals, what really counts is quickly and effectively getting your visitors the information they want and getting them to want to take the steps you need them to take.
A top-down list of things to consider when building a successful site includes:
- Grab Attention: Whether it’s your home page or any internal content page, all your Web pages need to get your visitors’ attention. Give your visitors something to focus on and to affirm that they are in the right place.
- Suck Them In: After getting your visitors’ attention, each page needs to convince your visitors to keep reading, watching, or listening. Make your page informative and appealing so that your visitors want to find the information they need.
- Call to Action: Whatever your objective—whitepaper downloads, sales, collecting names and contact information, etc.—your visitor is not likely to do what you want them to do unless you ask. Be sure to include a call to action—learn more, get information, buy now, etc.—on each page.
Once you have addressed these key elements, re-examine, refine, and test the main aspects of your page, including:
- Layout – Is the page simple and clear or cluttered and hard to understand? Most visitors start in the upper left corner of the screen and scan from there. Are the most important elements located “above the fold” and do they stand out?
- Message – What does your audience best respond to? Are you emphasizing benefits rather than features? Is your message clear and concise? is it focused on your visitors’ needs?
- Objections – Think of any objections your visitors may have to your products or services. Why might your audience give up and decide to click off to some other destination on the Web? How can you resolve these objections and make your audience comfortable enough to take the next step?
- Headings – Remember, as much as you like your Web copy, your visitors don’t really read; they scan. If you removed all the body text on your page, how would your page read? Does it make sense and encourage your visitor to keep reading?
- Call to Action – Remember the old adage: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Ensure you have strong, clear, enticing calls to action that let your visitors know exactly what you want them to do next.
If you consider these elements from the outset of your Web design project, you will be well on your way to building a successful site.