Strategic Website Development for Businesses & Governments
When designing your website, there is a multitude of factors that can influenceyour visitors’ actions and behaviors.Everything from a website’s graphics and layout to its ease-of-use affects a visitor’s click-throughrate.
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Design a Strategic Website
With regard to website usability, the “structure which makes sense to the user will often differ from the structure used internally by the data provider.” Since your target is the end user, it’s vital that your website is structured in a way that your customers will understand. While it is true good design and clear navigation can boost e-satisfaction, when it comes to usability, a website whose hierarchy of web pages and information “feels natural and well structured” is likely to be user-friendly and engaging.
Whatever the purpose of your website, this should be clearly communicated by its design. Whether your website provides personal, commercial or recreational services, by employing an aesthetic that reflects its reason, you can improve your users’ experience. This kind of congruent design also helps to boost your website’s perceived trustworthiness, since customers can count on your navigation to be reliable and consistent.
Meet their needs
Analyze your target audience and tailor your website to their needs and beliefs. We all want to feel connected, valued and understood. By taking the time to research your audience and design your website to meet its needs, you can create a sense of subconscious rapport with your users, making them feel safe and, therefore, more likely to buy.
Target your audience
If your target market is women (either partly or entirely), make sure you engineer your website so as to boost your perceived trustworthiness and credibility to minimize any sense of risk (for more information, please refer to Chapter 19).
Present your key messages clearly and concisely. Simplify the amount of information your users have to process by making use of case studies and analogies to communicate your services.
The more comfortable, easy and enjoyable it is for your users to navigate your website, the more satisfied they will be. By understanding who your users are, you can structure your website according to their level of Internet expertise (it makes a difference whether they’re novices or digital natives).
A good website will provide accurate information that is updated as and when necessary. This doesn’t just apply to blogs, but to any website that delivers information about a service, contact details, products and so on that require updating. Yes, this includes you.
There is a reason products such as Google Search and the iPad are so successful: beyond their elegant, minimalist designs, they provide a simple, almost foolproof user experience. Your website should be no different. Make the first few seconds count by showing your users what you’re about, how you’re providing value and what they need to do next.
Attention is a resource
Your users’ attention is a finite resource, so use it wisely. Every bit of information on your website will consume a certain amount of attention, so the more design elements you include, the more competition there will be. In order to minimize the cognitive load, you should stick to a clear attentional hierarchy. Do your users really need to be able to see the full navigation menu at all times? Do they need a cluttered sidebar on every page? Again, simplicity rules.
Call to action
This is the bit where you tell your site visitors exactly what you want them to do. By providing a clear call to action, such as “try this new service free for 30 days” or “sign up to our newsletter,” you can direct people’s attention towards a singular outcome and increase conversion rates. To make it easier for your visitors to take the desired action, you can use blocks of “hot” colors (such as bright pink, yellow, orange or red) to highlight the message and provide clear links and buttons in the margin on every page, located where everyone can see them clearly.
Make it easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for by including a simple search box in the header of your website. It should go without saying that your word count should be kept to a decent minimum (no one likes to be greeted by a sea of words) and your headers should be clear and succinct (you’d be surprised how many businesses don’t do this). Your navigation should follow the same rules and, where necessary, you can use dropdown menus to order your information and keep visual clutter to a minimum.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
It’s imperative that the content on your website is well organized, accessible and search engine-friendly. This means that all your page headings and page content (images, videos and text) should be labeled appropriately. For example, if you’re including an image of a new water-saving device that you’ve just launched, its title should describe it as such—that is “New water-saving device.” Make sure that the written content you do have is succinct, brief and contains the keywords and headings most relevant to your service/products.