Written by:2009/02/13 03:03 PM
A badly designed and developed website is never going to keep users on your site let alone attract new ones. Many will not admit that their site is badly designed or developed because of pride. Some leave their site the way it is with the no budget excuse. The reason you have no budget is because your site is not working. You have heard the old adage, “you must spend money to make money”.
Here are a few tips on how to get a bad site working again.
Visit your site as a critical, unbiased user and examine it carefully. If you can’t do this with an unbiased view point, or you do not know what your looking for, Get someone else. Join a social network like LinkedIn, and ask the huge amount of professionals to give you a honest opinion. You often get what you do not want to hear, but what you need.
Use only standard text fonts. Arial or Verdana are the most common. Make sure that your background colour or image doesn't interfere with the reader's experience. Black text on a white background works best. We are so used to reading black text on white paper, why change it. Next most popular is white text over a black background, ala many years of school and college.
Don’t use gory colours. Just because you like shocking pinks does not meant the rest of the world does. Look to nature for well coordinated colour schemes. Remember contrast levels. The site must not hurt my eyes. The site must have a unifying theme or skin. The theme must be consistent across all pages.
Make sure your images are clear and effective. No one likes pixelated images or irrelevant images. It smacks of amateurism. Always include size parameters for your pictures. Different monitors, browsers or screen resolutions will adversely affect how an image appears if they have to guess the size. Incorrect image resizing will really ruin your web page. Always use a reasonable image size and resolution. Remember that in some countries, like South Africa, bandwidth is expensive, and many are still on dial up. If a site takes too long to download, people will leave. You have to perfectly balance quality of image with ease and speed of download.
Check all the links on your site to see that they work. Don’t you hate those 404 error pages. Create a quality looking alternate 404 page. Accidents happen. A good looking 404 page will not scare away users, but will redirect them to something better.
Clearly defined menu structure. Place a link at the bottom of each page leading to where you want your user to go next. Make sure a user can access every page on your site from every other page. Create a site map listing every important pages or departments on your site. Place a link to this site map on every page of your site. Never leave a user lost at a dead end with no way to go back to the last page they visited. Don't rely on the browser back button.
Never require a user to enter a password or set up a new user account before they can enter your site. If I have to sign up before I can evaluate your site and product, then it just spamming and email collection. No way Hosea.
If you have a shopping cart, check it thoroughly to make sure it works. More users abandon a site at the shopping cart stage than anywhere else. Very sad and tragic, because they were actually trying purchase something but were unable to do so, so, they gave up.
Make sure your users can contact you in every way possible. Provide a telephone number, email address, chat function, instant help line, and anything else to make it easier for a user to reach you if they have any questions prior to making a purchase. Be careful with spammers and spamming software. Never give out personal information. If you feel that your phone number is personal, do not give it out. There are many other ways of contact. The point is, you must be contactable.
Remove any applications that prevent users from easily entering the site. Flash is nice. But over done and overstated, will detract from the initial intent of the site. Decide what your sites goal is. Are you trying to win a Oscar for producing and directing or special effects, graphic design, or are you trying to win customers? Your site might look good, but does it work. Nothing wrong with Flash if done in moderation and carefully. Never require a user to download software or any application prior to entering your site.
Taking care of these issues will provide your users with a pleasant site experience and will entice them to return. More effectively if they enjoyed the experience, they might invite their friends. What can be better than that?
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