Do NOT make me Ctrl + F your contact information.

Do you treat your website like a member of your sales team? You should! It shows off your products, answers questions, and closes sales. Right?

In order to get visitors to stick around, you have to make it easy on them to find what they’re looking for: information about your company, where to buy your products, how to sign up for your newsletter, how to contact you, or your blog. When someone walks into your business they expect that the layout will be intuitive with brilliant signage and friendly staff. Design your website to be an intuitive space with brilliant signage and friendly copy (a.k.a. words) to mirror that experience.

Your layout should be logical, and wherever possible, adhere to industry and Internet norms. Don’t make me Ctrl + F your Contact link! It goes in the top menu, or at the very bottom of the homepage. Put your shopping cart in the top right corner. Hyperlink the main menu logo to your homepage in case the visitor get lost and need an eject button. Make your homepage a Sales Funnel, to make it even easier for me to do what they came to do.

sales or marketing directions on a signpostThis is not the place to be witty or cutesy. There is nothing more frustrating than looking at a website menu that does not clearly tell visitors where to find things. Be specific: About Us, Our Story, Our Work, Portfolio, Case Studies, Shop, Store, Make A Donation, Latest Issue, Blog, Events, etc.

But beware the clutterbug. Oftentimes small business websites are limited in the number of built-in horizontal menu options, but that does not mean everything else goes on your homepage. Talk to your designer about drop-down options to get additional pages and save your homepage for the main call to action.

Last but not least, design your website to be accessible by everyone. For example:

The “Alt Text” field you’ve seen when uploading images is the description used by the visually impaired to identify what your photo is.

Avoid hyperlinking vague words like “click here”. Instead, hyperlink words that describe exactly where the link will go, such as “shop now in our online store”.

People who are colour blind may not be able to read green text on a blue background.

If you already have a website it’s easy to check how user-friendly your design is. Look at your metrics (a.k.a. user statistics) for the bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who look at only one page on your website, then leave. The higher that percentage is, the more people are leaving your site because they didn’t find what they were looking for.

Look at all of your website’s analytics and consider where you could improve. If you have a bounce rate higher than 49% that means more than half of your visitors leave without doing anything worthwhile. Think about websites that you love and study their usability. What have they done that you could do on your website? Why do you keep going back? Where have you run into navigation that frustrated you or took time to learn? Make some changes and look to your metrics for correlations. Repeat. Reap the rewards.


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