Give Your Website a Design with Purpose - dummies

By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

After you launch the website for your online business, keep an eye out for newer design trends. For an older, existing site, it’s imperative to review your site regularly and decide whether to implement new design elements and functional features. When you evaluate the design elements of your website, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Does my website effectively communicate my business message?

  • What is the goal for each page of my website (or what action do I want visitors to take)?

  • Does my website design aid in the successful completion of these goals or hinder these goals?

  • Does my website design interfere with search engine optimization (SEO)?

Every design decision you make should revolve around these questions. After all, unless you’re building a hobby site or an artistic site, your site needs to serve your business needs. Communicating your business message is particularly important when building credibility with new buyers.

In the 2014 B2B Web Usability Report from Huff/KoMarketing, 43 percent of buyers said the lack of a clear message stating that states what the company does reduces credibility and causes them to click back out of a website. If your site isn’t communicating clearly to your customers or isn’t helping you reach and convert prospective buyers to customers, you’re limiting your site’s potential and harming its bottom line.

Design and functionality go hand-in-hand. You want to use design elements to clearly lead customers to take a particular action (your goal), such as purchasing a product, requesting additional information, or contacting you.

You might find that web designers and programmers are eager to implant the hottest new technology in your website, on the assumption that customers will want the technology because it’s new. As time passes, these designers figure out that e-commerce design involves finding out what visitors want and then fulfilling those customer needs.

A perfect example is the Flash introduction, in which a company’s home page displays an animated clip that resembles a movie trailer. Even if this introductory clip is slick and impressive, the Flash intro creates a barrier between visitors to the website and the information they are seeking. After numerous visitors and customers told site owners that they didn’t want to see this feature, it started to disappear.

Communicating your business message quickly, concisely, and cleanly on your company’s home page is more important than ever. It’s equally important to have that same clarity on your site’s top entrance pages (pages, other than your home page, where visitors commonly enter the site).

Web surfers spend only a few seconds evaluating a new site before they make up their minds and decide to stay or leave. Your home page and entrance pages have to catch a potential buyer’s attention and give that person a reason to stay.