Virtually every legitimate business--and many not-so-legitimate businesses--maintains a website of some sort. This is true even of those types of business that typically do not translate well to the Internet marketplace. Yet, as technology advances and the technological prowess of consumers keeps pace, it is no longer enough merely to have a website.
To truly increase the effectiveness of your new website you need to be sure that it is designed well and is friendly to the end-user. An improvement in the design and usability of your website will directly translate into increased sales for your business.
Qualities of a good website.
It's easy to say that you need a good website, but what does that mean? Most websites need to be strong in at least three areas: first impression, navigability, and ease of access.
1. Your First Impression
Studies have shown that most people create an initial impression of a new person (or website) within about seven seconds of their first contact. That means your website must be constructed in such a way as to quickly impress new visitors with both its content and appearance.
Content alone is not enough: many consumers will, when confronted with a wall of text, quickly exit your website and move on to the website of a competitor. At the same time, your website cannot be all flash and no bang: you must include solid content along with a strong layout that catches the eye and holds the attention of first-time visitors.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and nowhere is that as true as it is in the world of the Internet. Once a consumer decides that he or she does not like your page, the chances of them ever returning are very low.
2. Easy Navigation
The ease with which a visitor can move about your website is just as important as the first impression you give. Today's consumers are impatient, and if it is not immediately apparent to them how to move around your website, you risk losing them to the competition.
99.99% of the time your visitors are NOT on your website.
Your visitors were on someone elses website before they came to yours, and they will be on someone elses website after they leave. Visitors have expectations based on other websites they have been to. If you vary too much from the normal positioning of navigation and links, you will confuse your visitors, and lose them. Many consumers will give a website only a few seconds of their time, and if the navigation is not intuitive and easy to master, they will leave for a website that is easier to use. When designing your website, keep in mind that consumers are not in the mood to have to learn all over again how to move around a website. You need to ensure that your web designer makes navigation as intuitive as possible, leading to consumers being able to navigate without needing to learn a new system.
3. Easy to Find
A website must, above all else, be easy to access. The best website design is worthless if consumers cannot quickly, easily, and reliably find your website.
Remember that a consumer will leave your page and go to the page of a competitor if he or she is not able to quickly and easily find what he or she wants. This obviously includes your home page itself.
When designing a website, or choosing a team to assist you in website design, you need to keep in mind the old saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." It does you absolutely no good to have a great website that customers are unable to access. As such, you should stress search engine optimization when making plans (or hiring a website design team).
Conclusion. A website is a vital tool for obtaining and maintaining a competitive edge. When considering your options, remember to keep in mind that a website must give a good first impression, be easy to navigate, and be accessible to visitors.