Designing a website should always be done with great care. If you don’t think things through in detail before you actually begin the building process, your website is very likely to underperform, whether this is in making sales or drawing subscribers to your list. Here are some thoughts on the subject.
The Home Page is the first thing your visitor will probably see and must make the right kind of impression. It must be professional and give an immediate message of what your site is about. It should be eye-catching but never garish or make your visitor recoil from the computer screen with shock as their senses are assaulted by a blaze of colour, overactive animated graphics or a blast of heavy rock music. The initial impact should be to encourage your visitor to stick around, not hit the “back” button. The use of a so-called ‘Splash Page’ is not good either. The idea of a pre-website page inviting people in sounds logical in one sense but when people hit a link to come to your website they have a very specific idea of what they are looking for. The home page should establish your message immediately; a splash page is most likely to act as a barrier and drive people away.
The home page should also be uncluttered but have clear, easy to read and easy to follow information. Your visitor will arrive asking the question: “Is this website likely to give me the help or information I am looking for?” If they have to browse the page for several minutes to answer that question they are very likely to get fed up and look elsewhere. If you have banner advertising on you home page – never, never overdo this! The central issue is what you are offering and not what others are offering. The links on your home page should be primarily to navigate your visitors to free offers and sales letters incorporated into your site.
The issue of navigation is another very important aspect of your site’s effectiveness. All navigation links should be ‘child-friendly’ yet something that even an adult can follow. All links should go where they say they will go. It doesn’t help to designate a link as going to an information page, for instance, when it actually takes your visitor to a blatant sales pitch. Always be honest and upfront with your visitors. Any sort of deception will backfire – FOR CERTAIN! So don’t do it!
Every additional page on your website should have a very specific purpose. Every single page, from your home page onwards, should have a simplicity about it which makes it easy and interesting to use. Nothing should ever create any sense of confusion or doubt in the mind of a visitor to your website. If this occurs they will be gone, never to be heard of again. A sales letter should have its own page. An opt-in page should display the opt-in form prominently plus information of the free item being offered as an incentive – and nothing else.
All copy on your website must be the best you can possibly make it. Bad grammar or poor spelling will irritate many people and drive them away. There are differences in both spelling and use of language between English and American writers, but most people understand and accept these differences. Any actual misuse of English, however, will reduce the effectiveness of your copywriting. If you have any doubts about the quality of your writing then outsource it to an expert to correct, polish or even write it for you. Such work can be done for the cost of a couple of pints.
Plan your website, especially your home page, very carefully indeed. Your visitors should enjoy their time spent on your site. The greater the enjoyment the more likely they are to subscribe or buy.