By Angela Dove, Originally Published on here
When you think about it, having an organised, clearly laid out, labelled and easy-to-navigate website is really simply common courtesy to your clients. After all, you wouldn’t invite your clients to your office if it was a complete mess, would you? So why risk the same damage to your reputation and brand image with a messy, disorganised, incoherent website.
There are many ways to upset a customer or potential customer as they navigate through your site. Here are a few to keep in mind and avoid at all costs.
You have a website chock to the brim with beautifully sounding prose, but it’s not really saying anything. It’s simply fluff used to add length. Don’t fall into this trap. The requirement of a website is that it should have minimal text because no-one wants to read. It should be scannable for specific information, so create lots of sub headings and bullet points and ensure each section of text is kept short. Customers today are increasingly marketing savvy. They know when they are being given fluff and they are becoming blind to it. Don’t waste their time, just give them the facts.
Don’t set up your business site on one of these free to host sites. You will end up with a user unfriendly website address which won’t look professional, and your site design will also be unprofessional. It’s worth investing the money to have a professional web designer do it for you. After all, you have your image to think of.
Too much flash
On the flip side, don’t go crazy with professional design services and load your site with heavy Flash components or high resolution photographs. The heavier the content the longer it will take your site to load and this will frustrate visitors no end. They will be in a hurry and eager to get information. They won’t care too much for the fancy Flash elements because it is wasting their time and not giving them the information they want.
Hiding or missing information
This is where testing of your site with users will really be a bonus. It’s easy to miss basic information in the process of designing when you are thinking of the more complicated aspects of the site. If a customer wants to write to you and they can’t find your address, that’s not going to go down too well. Similarly, make sure commonly used information is on the pages it is expected to be. For example a site I viewed recently was still selling its products on the contact us page and offered a hyperlink to order. Only if the user clicked the hyperlink on the Contact page were they taken to a page that revealed the company’s contact details. I would suggest having your contact details displayed prominently on the home page as well as the contact page. In your testing, make sure you ask test users what they expect to see on such a site and where they expect to see it.
Making life difficult
Make interaction on your site as user friendly as possible. Don’t make customers have to format information your way. Make it the logical way. If you have to write more code to make it happen, so be it.
Does anyone not groan when confronted with a long form to fill out online? Most of the time it is not necessary. Yes, you want to automate processes as much as possible, but you employ staff to do that, not your customers. Most of the time consider simply having the name, contact number and email fields on the form. Now that you have captured that data, you can get your staff to contact the customer to follow up. This gives the added benefit of adding the personal touch – a rare service commodity these days.