The key to designing an excellent website, and doing it in the least amount of time, is planning. Internet web site design follows a set of principles which you must incorporate into your plan. Additionally, you’ll want to use a good web building tool to expedite the process.
Planning your web site on paper first is vitally important. I don’t mean planning every little detail, I just mean planning the look and feel of your homepage, as well as the navigation or flow chart of the various pages of your entire web site.
Think of your website as a pyramid with your homepage as the pinnacle of the pyramid. Your visitors will navigate from your homepage to your 2nd tier pages, and from there to the 3rd tier pages. In the beginning, you will just want to build your home page and the 2nd tier pages.
Here’s a Fast Track Technique to make your job of designing and building a website a lot easier:
All you really have to do is plan one page, your homepage, and then clone all your other 2nd and 3rd level pages. Your goal should be to make one perfect webpage, and then you’ll simply use this as your template and fill in the pages with different content.
Let’s look at the requirements of a successful webpage. A good webpage must fill the needs of the visitor to your site, as well as the needs of the search engines, and must also entice the visitor to click-thru to the merchant page where s/he can make a purchase.
But that’s not all. A webpage should also capture the name and email address of the visitor. There should be numerous places and opportunities for the visitor to opt-in to your newsletter or to get your freebie product. I recommend you put your opt-in email capture form on every page of your website. Getting your visitor’s name and email address is actually more important than selling a product to your visitor.
Optimizing your webpages for the search engines is especially important to get free, targeted traffic to your site. Using articles that you write about your business, combined with SEO webpage design principles practically guarantees an avalanche of targeted traffic to your website.
In addition to convincing your visitors to give you their name and email address, and optimizing for the search engines, a top notch webpage should also be designed to nudge the visitor along a pre-defined path to get the visitor to take a particular action. The action you usually desire the visitor to take is to click on the link that leads to your merchant page where a purchase can be made.
Here is where website navigation becomes vitally important. The amount of clicks from the time your visitor arrives at your website to the merchant page where the visitor is confronted with an offer should ideally be not more than three clicks.
The navigation must also be designed so that the visitor is not overwhelmed with choices. I see too many websites that offer a plethora of choices to the customer. This is a Big Mistake. A confused mind hesitates to make a purchase, or takes no action at all and exits the website in search of a simpler solution.
Design your navigation so that no more than five choices are offered at any one time. So your homepage might offer five category links at the top of your page, each of which might lead to five more 2nd tier links. This already adds up to 25 pages plus the homepage.
The navigation should also be placed in the same place on every webpage to make your visitor’s experience easy and pleasurable. You do not want a frustrated customer. The happy mood is the buying mood. What’s more, a good experience at your website ensures that your customer will return again and again to your website.
Offer excellent, easy to find content at your website. Design your webpages with simplicity in mind. Nothing fancy or complicated. Use a white background and easy to read fonts. Do not overdo the colors! Choose black type and one or two colored fonts and that’s it.
You need to convince your visitor that you are reliable, trustworthy, honest, and credible. To do that your webpages should be conservative, easy to navigate, and easy to read. It’s also important to include your email address prominently.
By following these webpage design guidelines, everybody wins. The search engines do their job by delivering relevant content to the visitor (because your webpage has been optimized for the search engines). The visitor wins by effortlessly locating the information and product that s/he was seeking. The merchant wins by making a sale. And you win by collecting a commission from the sale. You also acquire the customer’s trust, as well as their name and email address, so that you can market to them again in the future.