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Web Design Fundamentals : Tips for Successful Web Design

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10. Remember the basics
In addition to what you've read so far, the following are some basic web design concepts that should also be applied to every website design project to help ensure the ultimate user experience and opportunity for success.

Explain what your company does on the Home page. You may have a separate page that describes what your company does, but a user should know what you do from viewing the Home page.

Provide contact information, such as an email address or phone number, on each and every page within your site. This is absolutely critical if you are selling products and services online. Make it easy for your customers to reach you.

Display who the key contacts are and provide an easy way for users to contact them. Always follow-up to user inquiries immediately.

Encourage feedback. The best way to improve your site is to find out what your users think. You and your web designers may think the site is perfect, but the only opinion that matters is the end-user. Ask them for feedback every chance you get. You may be surprised that what your users want from your website is much different than you think they want. Good web design needs to follow what your audience wants and needs, not what you think is best.

Only add non-text elements when it will actually add value to the site. Many people add gadgets to their sites just because they can. These elements distract from the content and from sales, and also increases the likelihood that something will go wrong during the user's visit. Keep in mind; so far the most successful online sites have been the simplest sites.

Provide an email newsletter if you can. This gives you the opportunity to continuously reach out to your visitors with information about your business. You will find that more business will come from those on your mailing list than from any other source. A good web host can provide mailing list management tools, and using that to stay in touch with your clients is priceless.

NEVER use the phrase "under construction" on a web page. If a part of your site isn't ready, do not display links to that section until it is live. Your users won't notice something isn't there, but they will equate "under construction" signs as unprofessional.

Users do not like long surveys. While it is vital to gather information from your users and create user/customer profiles, how you go about it makes a big difference in the user's opinion of you. The most successful way to build a profile is to ask no more than 3-5 yes/no or multiple-choice questions at a time via an online form. Personal information is hard to get and generally only is given when you've created trust or provide an incentive.

11. Maintaining your site
Maintaining a successful website requires some dedicated work on your part to ensure your user's experience remains positive and that your site stays fresh. A stale website is one that isn't making money or providing value in any way. If you can't keep up with your site, or don't have the skills to manage, seek the help of a website maintenance company. They can keep your site updated for very low fees. Here are some things you should be doing to keep your users happy and coming back for more.

  • Constantly check for broken/stale links and correct them immediately. Nothing is worse than trying to go to a link that doesn't produce the intended content.
  • Keep information timely. Make sure your users have a reason to come back by providing new information on a regular basis. Use an email newsletter to notify them of new items and to bring them back to the site.
  • Always proof-read and re-proofread before posting your content. Poor spelling and grammar is a big turnoff.
  • Test your site regularly to ensure everything works the way it's supposed to. When elements on your site don't work properly, it reflects poorly on your entire business.

12. Don't Be Afraid To Hire Help
Anyone can build HTML pages and websites. And, anyone can create websites that don't work. There's a big difference between knowing how and doing it effectively. An effective website isn't one that just exists, or even looks nice. Effective websites generate leads, sales, awareness, or improve service. If your website doesn't do those things, it's not effective. You probably didn't create your sign, stationary, marketing materials, and ads all by yourself, so don't be afraid to spend some money on hiring a web design expert who can help your site become an effective tool in your business.

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