Website Design: Making A Good First Impression

bruce aristeo

bruce aristeo

As with any first meeting, your website design says a lot about who you are and the quality of your business. First time visitors quickly (although, often subconsciously) run through a list of qualifiers before deciding if it’s worth their time to get to know you. Some of the questions they may ask themselves include, but are not limited to:

  • Is this a credible business site?
  • Can I trust the information provided?
  • How long has this company been in business?
  • Can I easily navigate to the information I need?
  • Is this site welcoming and engaging …professional?

Studies show that while aesthetics alone may not be the lone factor when it comes to first impressions, bells and whistles that serve little purpose are distracting to consumers. A clean website design that incorporates multimedia where appropriate will often engage a site visitor better than an overly priced, multi-colored site comprised of flashy components.

  • Here’s some additional tips:
  • Color – Pick 2-4 that compliment
  • Animation and music – avoid the unnecessary.
  • Over-crowding – make white space your friend to help reduce clutter.
  • Organization – use easy navigation bars vs. random links. Make it easy for visitors to find great content with as few clicks as possible.
  • Fonts and Layout – choose easy to read font sizes and styles. While headlines and other elements should be larger in size, don’t shout. Layout consistency is key and should remain uniform on each page (with the exception of landing pages).

What do you notice first when you arrive at a website for the first time? What turns you off, or gives you a reason to stay awhile? Leave your comments as part of simple survey of thoughts! Who knows; you might surprise us!

Website Design Navigation; Are You Lost?

Bruce Aristeo Website Design Navigation

Bruce Aristeo Website Design Navigation

One of the most important elements to any website design is ease of navigation; the ability of visitors to find the information they need and thus, keep them on your site as they explore all you have to offer.  Any roadblock, such as requiring multiple clicks to reach their desired information, or plug-in requirements to view your content can send a potential customer away from your website in a hurry.

Still, over and over again we see websites that try to use chic design features as a means to elevate their navigation tools …at their own peril, of course.

Key tips to consider:

  • Simple, clear, structured navigation near the top of your website, as well as within the footer.
  • Include a search box for ease of searching your pages by keywords.
  • When possible, keep your sub-menus no more than 3 levels deep.
  • Limit the number of navigational options on a page
  • Including links to other pages within your body text content encourages further exploration while also boosting your SEO.

Avoid fancy or complicated Java Script and Flash in your navigation, as it often requires a visitor to have updated software and limits the ability of mobile users (at present) to navigate your website. 

Social Media Expert?

Bruce Aristeo Social Media Expert

Bruce Aristeo Social Media ExpertFrom LinkedIn Social Media:

Is there such a thing as a SM Expert?

I know that this is late to post, but I just recently got around to looking at some of my social media discussions. I’ve heard competitors talk about being a Guru, and Expert, and Wizard, and every one of the blog postings I’ve read miss the mark entirely because they’re all the same! I think this discussion states it all in that there is “no such thing as a social media expert.”

Social media is a fluid form

There can be an expert in a particular field of study that remains relatively stable, but in the case of this discussion, the arena of social media is too vast and encompasses countless variables. SM is a fluid form of communication which will never stop, even within specific industries. Take printing companies for example, the industry changes so rapidly that they have a hard enough time maintaining a grip on technology and staying ahead of home printing options such as the ability to print business cards and stationery.

Check out this discussion, see what you think, and think about it the next time you hear someone titled or being titling as a SM expert. You might want to strike up a discussion with them to find out what he/she thinks of the concept.

Website Redesign and Instant Gratification Gone Amok

Bruce Aristeo Website Redesign

Bruce Aristeo Website Redesign

For some, the decision to redesign a current website is based on functional limitations and/or failure to perform. For others, it could simply be a spontaneous decision; the colors are boring, or the lack of that “special something” extra …bells, whistles, cool gadgets! Yeah! That’s what I need… a redesign!

And so it goes; we jump head over heals (and budget) into a redesign without evaluating first, what’s really working: what could use a simple facelift, and what could be tossed altogether. In doing so, we also lose track of how deleting pages could produce a negative outcome in the form of search engine errors.

First things first:

  • Take inventory of every webpage Google has indexed for your website. Go to Google.com and enter the following into the search box: “site: www.YourWebsite.com”.
  • List them all in an Excel spreadsheet with documented traffic (or lack thereof) found in your analytics program to help you determine what stays and what goes.
  • In a third column, construct redirects (new URLs) for those that will no longer exist on your new website. Without redirects, visitors who have bookmarked pages to your old website, or tripped over old links (articles?) will land on an error page (Not Found). You can list your homepage for now and come back later and change them if a more suitable new one is created.
  • Then gather up all the content files that you want to repurpose on your new site for ease of linking and uploading, and create a new file to hold them, including:
    • Your logo formed in a vector format (i.e., .eps, .ai, or .cdr).
    • Guidelines, such as Privacy and Return policy documents
    • Images, graphics and downloadable files (whitepapers, eBooks, etc)

Now you’re ready to dig in. Your next step should be defining the purpose of your website redesign; what do you hope to gain or make better? More traffic and leads? Ease of conversions from prospect to customer? And more importantly, what new features and elements will you include in your website to help you accomplish your goals.

Got a favorite website redesign tip to share? Share your comments with us.

Creating Your New Website or Redesign On Paper First

Bruce Aristeo Website Design

Bruce Aristeo Website Design

Creating your website on paper first will help reduce design time, wasted resources, ensure necessary items can easily be found and uploaded, and provide you the opportunity to define, redefine and structure your website elements.

CREATING YOUR NEW WEBSITE ON PAPER FIRST

Here’s how it’s done: Create a Word document for each page you plan to include containing the following:

  • Page name, title (less than 60 characters), and location within the site, such as a sub-menu item
  • Meta Description (use no more than 7 keywords, preferably within long-tail keyword phrases; less than 150 characters total)
  • URL
  • Alt text to accompany each image or graphic to be included on the page
  • Main headline
  • Sub-headline
  • Body content (including text and associated images and/or media file names)
  • Links for content to referenced/related pages

Designing for a company consisting of multiple departments each with needs to consider. Bring all stakeholders into the process early and ask each the following questions:

  • Who are the buyers each department encounters most frequently?
  • What specific keywords or long-tail keyword phrases are commonly used or searched for?
  • What are their needs and objectives? Ex: Product specs and descriptions, lead generation, thought leadership, closing tools.
  • Which department requires more dedicated space for copy (text), forms or graphics?
  • What is the company/department perception: business development, high tech, entertainment?
  • What call to action (CTA) will support each stakeholder’s needs (subscriptions, trial offers, buy now campaigns)?
  • What features would best serve their customers (i.e., blogs, user forum, live chat), and who will be responsible for oversight of those features, if implemented?
  • What navigation elements would better serve their customers, including sub-menus, breadcrumbs and search bar?

If you’re redesigning a current site, ask each stakeholder to also answer the following:

  • What has worked in the past and what changes are necessary?
  • What existing content should be updated and repurposed within the new design?
  • What new content would add to their lead funnel and who will create those assets? Is outsourced talent required, and if so, are resources available (access to both known talent and financial requirements)?

Website Redesign: Define Success By Defining Your Purpose

Bruce Aristeo Website Purpose

Bruce Aristeo Website Purpose

When it comes to website design or redesign, the rules of engagement and best practices for your virtual storefront are always changing. But hey, nobody ever said ranking #1 was easy! It takes effort and time, all of which are better served by a little planning.

While your design or redesign is certainly important (two columns, three, or none?), you need to focus initially on how you intend to develop, maintain and build your presence while expanding your lead-generating tool chest.

More than simply an online presence, today’s marketplace demands that websites be a hub for all things that generate education and engagement; where conversations begin and progress. It’s where leads are generated through Inbound Marketing, rather than through traditional means, and with the right tools provided, prospects convert into customers.

The problem for many is that design has all to often taken a front seat to purpose.

Defining your goal is ground zero, including a detailed outline of how you will go about fulfilling your goal. Some of the more obvious include:

  • Retail Sales
  • Marketing of a Product or Service
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Advocacy
  • Networking

While it’s true that any successful website may contain elements of each, not all types of content and features are not created equal, and depending on your foundation of purpose, some may actually work against you by distracting, overwhelming, or worse, irritating your visitors.

By defining your specific aim, you’ll be better able to:

  • Develop value-added content and inbound marketing tools
  • Reduce wasted time, money and energy

Marketing gurus have been touting the essential “elevator pitch” for decades, and for good reason; only when you can define your product or service within a 30-second pitch …what your service or product is about and why you’re the best person (or company) available to solve a problem, can you successfully pitch it to another.

Whether it’s in person or online, the same holds true about first impressions.

Get clear about your goal and drive that commitment home with content that will produce more quality leads and a more profitable outcome.

Has a lack of goal-driven clarity created a nightmare in your website design? Share it with us in “comments” and get some tips on how you can easily regain control.