Have you ever landed on a site and you couldn’t figure out your way around? Did it look sloppy? Overwhelming? Designing a website for your small business so it’s easy to navigate takes thought and preparation. Your approacch has to be two-fold: part content and part strategy.
What Makes a Good Website Navigable?
It’s so tempting to go for flashy intro, but don’t. Take it from the big boys. Look at Google’s home page, Amazon, CNN, Forbes, Disney, and other major sites. They’re clean and uncomplicated.
Resist opening your webpage with flash animation or video. This slows down the system, and many of your viewers have basic computer systems that are at least a couple of years old. They won’t be able to load your website quickly. If they’re impatient or get frustrated, they’ll simply go to the next site on the list.
There’s a more important reason not to go for the grand entrance–graphics aren’t indexable.
That means the search engines aren’t picking up on keywords, and in turn, they’re not finding out who you are and what you have to offer. That means they’re not directing traffic your way. That’s the equivalent of buying the corsage, renting the tux, and then not getting to go to the prom.
Make sure that you’re not using an image file to write content in, because a search engine is reading it as an image and will not pick up on the keywords.
When in doubt, go white. A white background with black text is simple, but it also doesn’t give search engines any problems. Now, that doesn’t mean your site can’t be laid out well, but think about it–when we read a book, does it bother us that it’s not on green or pink paper? No, we’re reading for content, and the information is what we’re after. Search engines are getting more sophisticated, and it’s perfectlly okay to have a site with color and even a few graphics, but the point is not to go overboard.
Make sure your site is easy for visitors to get around. If you have dangling or orphaned pages and don’t offer an index, navigation bar, or site map, so they can return to previous pages.
It’s a smart idea to embed some long link texts into your pages so that your viewers know exactly what will happen if they click on that link. You can move a viewer around your site by simply referring back to something on another page with long text links, so consider high lighting and linking a phrase that’s clear for your viewers to understand.
Try visiting some major sites and really begin to view them from a web designer’s frame of mind.
Do you like the way the page appears? Is it easy to read, pleasant on the eye, and easy to navigate? Are you confused? Are you looking for something to click on like it’s “Where’s Waldo?” Are you asking certain questions, wondering what’s missing?
Creating your small business website comes with an initial time and effort investment, but this is your public face, and a tool in which thousands can locate you, your products, and your services.
The old adage of “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right the first time” makes sense.