A look of a website can make or break your business. First impressions always count. Here are ten tips to building a better business website.
1. Colour - A black background is not recommended. It's hard on the eyes. I don't know how many people have problems reading white or coloured text on a black background and with that said, don't go neon pink or glaring orange either. Generally black text on white background is best. Ideally you can choose two colours, but make sure they match and use it consistently on all your pages to maintain fluidity and continuity.
For example: Reds and oranges which stimulates appetite works well on a food site while warm pastel colours matches a baby site.
2. Layout - Don't cram everything into one page. Cluttered websites overwhelms the visitors. Keep it clean, crisp and concise. I had a CMS style website before and although it looked organized because there were three columns, there were also a lot of text. Navigation wasn't as plain as day and it overloaded the senses. Take these three words to heart, less is more.
3. Navigation - The more user-friendly the better and your visitors are bound to stay longer. You don't want your visitors to be jumping through hoops to find what they are looking for. Make shopping carts or payment buttons visible and easily accessible. Everything should be just a click away. Make sure all your links are working. Finding broken links becomes frustrating and annoying.
4. Proper spelling and grammar - There's nothing good about visiting a website to find loads of misspelled words and poor grammar. It's unprofessional and you can bet your visitors will leave.
5. Speed - When it comes to website loading, no one likes to be kept waiting. They will definitely leave a site if it won't load properly. People's time is precious; don't make them wait.
6. Graphics - Be careful of using big flashy graphics or banners. Too many animated and too many big banners take away a site's credibility. It also slows down the loading time of your site considerably. Not everyone uses high speed Internet. Remember people don't wait around for slow loading sites.
7. Audio - If you like it and want it, change the default setting to give the visitor control if they want to hear audio or not. Make sure it's visibly accessible to the visitor. The last time I landed on a site, I couldn't find the button to disable the audio so I immediately X'ed out.
8. Pop-up anything - Although many people now have pop-up blockers, it may not be so much of a nuisance, but a pop-up of anything is intrusive, unwanted and annoying. Adding a form to your page in a highly visible spot is much more effective and non-intrusive.
9. Content - Informative, resourceful content will keep a visitor coming back. No one wants to visit a site that hasn't been updated in a long time. You can add a small graphic or a simple text in red with the word "NEW" or a "What's New?" page to inform your visitors you have made updates.
10. AdSense ads - Too many AdSense ads on any page looks scammy and it downgrades the quality of your site. If you can handle honest opinions, have someone critique your website. It really all comes down to personal preference and you will never be able to please everyone and that's okay.
The main goal is building a functioning, well laid out website that is successful and prosperous to you for many years to come.
*) About the Author: S. McIntyre, a free work at home resource focusing on telecommuting companies, daily telecommute job leads, articles, business resources and other work at home related topics.
sources: Entireweb Newsletter, Vol. Nov. 28, 2008