Several years ago, if you wanted a web site, you would probably have paid a professional to design one for you because it would have been too complicated or costly to do yourself. But now with widely available free or low cost user-friendly design tools, do it yourself has never been easier. Unfortunately, creating your own site for the first time can have some pitfalls.
While you may want to wow your visitors with dynamic colors, Flash-based screens or intense graphics, consider what benefits those additions might have versus the negative impact they can have on user experience. More people than ever are accessing websites via smartphones or tablets, most of which don’t support Flash. You should also consider download times for mobile devices when using large graphics. Finally, keeping your color pallet simple will make your site easier to view for a long period.
Users come to your site for one thing: information. Don’t make it hard for them to find it. Your site should have a simple menu with page titles they are expecting. For example, a business site might have Products, Locations, About Us, Contact Us, etc. Every page should have the same navigation so folks can find their way out. Try to avoid heavily scripted pop-up menus as these can be hard to utilize on a smart phone. Adding a search box will increase the odds your users can find just what they are looking for.
Nothing will drive your users away faster than a stagnant site. Keeping your content fresh will keep people coming back. Adding a news section, blog or other easily updatable information can help you show a constant flow of new content. You can also tie your content feed to your Facebook, Twitter or other social media account. Interactive sites have a higher rate of return users.
When it comes to web design, it’s best to keep it simple. Find a site that you like, and use it as a model to help you get started. You can also find a world of informational sites, like webmonkey.com or tips-tricks.com, to help you through developing your site from start to finish.
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