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Think Business When Evaluating Your Web Site Design: Five Tips
Whether you are overhauling your existing e-commerce site, starting a brand new online business or taking your existing business to the Internet for the first time, you?ll probably turn the technical worries over to someone else. However, you still need to be aware of some basic rules of web design for online marketing. Don’t become so enthralled by the wizardry of the latest online gadgets and overlook what your site is really supposed to do for you. Of course, also keep in mind the old adage that the rules will have exceptions, and some of those exceptions may apply to your particular business. However, unless you can clearly articulate a good reason not to, I recommend you stick to these guidelines.

? Make sure each page has a central, clear function. I recently reviewed a site in my consulting work that used the same page to try to offer an informative article, to sell the business’s primary product, to sell a competing product by an affiliated company and offer contextual advertising displays. I could not tell what I was supposed to do; my attention was drawn in four contradictory directions.

 

? Pretty is not important! If you look at the most powerful web sites on the Internet, you will notice that almost none of them are beautiful. Think of Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, etc. In fact, having a beautiful web site can actually work against your business interests. You want the visitors to your site to focus upon what your business has to offer, not what skill set your designer possesses.

? Easy (user friendly) site navigation is essential. You want people to be able to find all information that is relevant to their interests without frustration. Furthermore, you want them to be able to access that information by following their instincts. That means knowing what your prospective customers expect. They shouldn’t have to hire a consultant to be able to find what your offer, the benefits and the features. In other words, imitate what your users find familiar. Place your navigation menus where your customers will first look, in the left column and (or) at the top of the frame.

? White space is your friend; it is definitely not wasted space. A busy page is a confusing page. Especially on product pages, the most important information should be in upper left portion of the content block of your page. Do not surround it with unnecessary distractions. Less important details can occupy the less important real estate lower on the page.

? Add authority to your site reflecting your ethical commitment to your customers, your community and your profession. Always have a page for contact information, privacy guarantees and other policies that are pertinent to your business operations (e.g., shipping, product return, guarantee, etc.). There are many other ways to add authority to your site. You may want to use some of them. Some of these are logos of payment systems that you accept, endorsement by a known company (e.g., an article directory, etc.); testimonials about your product, service or business; quotations from reviews; logos of professional organizations to which you belong; etc. Some of these will take a while to earn. Some may have exorbitant costs associated with them. Pick and choose. But do not have so many authority statements that they distract from your main mission. I usually pick only a few of those for which I am qualified. I choose different ones for different sites.

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