Ways To Maximize Website Design & Usability

Developing a good small business website is not easy. Unfortunately, small business owners sometimes think otherwise and they try to take matters into their own hands without the proper experience or knowledge. Even using website builders such as Wix or SquareSpace can lead to disaster without the proper guidance regarding what makes an effective website.

Whether you contact a marketing firm like Forward Push, use a website template builder, or attempt to build your own site with WordPress or Joomla, several fundamental items apply across the board. Take a moment to learn these building blocks and you’ll set your small business website up for success from the very first step.

First Impressions Matter

website-building-essentialsWhen a person lands on your website, you only have a seconds to get their attention and convert on a call to action. Studies upon studies have verified this, and the bottom line is that first impressions matter. How can you best address this need? With very limited time to work with a visitor, that means that information has to communicate quickly. This is a combination of:

  • Branding: Immediately recognizing the identity through logo, color scheme, etc.
  • Message: Communicating through headlines, images, and video
  • Layout: A sensible, clean layout that clearly indicates what are options
  • Call to action: Clear clickable options that target specific user needs

By designing to these elements, you can help minimize bounce rate (the percentage of visitors that “bounce” off your site after one visit) and make a first impression that leads to conversion.

Make It Usable

Having a pretty site is ultimately useless if it fails to deliver a good functional experience for the visitor. Usability means that there are clear options, clean navigation, and no confusion for the user. Some businesses think they have to overload the Home page with every option on the planet or that every single page on the site has to be in the menu. Others add so many Javascript modules and embedded videos that browsers take forever to load pages. Focus on usability and you’ll be rewarded with visitor engagement.

Don’t Indulge In Bells And Whistles

For website novices, it’s very tempting to view multimedia options and think they’d be great for their site. Video, music, GIFs, animation, non-traditional fonts and text colors, all of it does have a time and place for use. However, self-restraint must be exercised in those circumstances because using too many (too many usually means more than one on a page unless it’s a purposefully media-rich blog post) can be a disaster. Not only does it look amateurish, it can bog down load times and annoy visitors. Remember, just because you can doesn’t mean you should, and never, ever auto-play music or videos (consistently rated the most annoying web feature in surveys).

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Support Mobile Viewing

With each passing year, more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to view the web. Smart design allows for easy viewing on these devices. This means responsive sites with mobile-appropriate menus and images to accommodate smaller screen sizes. However, it doesn’t mean that designs should ignore traditional web standards. A few years ago, it was trendy to create long-scrolling sites based on exclusively catering to mobile. Today, the approach has been tempered by creating a sensible medium that works well on both computers and mobile devices. The goal is to make your site as accessible as possible rather than to get caught up catering to one side or another.

Further Elements

The above four items are the building blocks of a successful website. However, many different elements make up the most effective websites, including content quality, SEO coding, and more. Use these tips to create the foundation of your site, but don’t stop there; through research and implementation, you’ll be able to create a website a cut above the competition.

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