Lots of unnecessary copy on a website might more than suffice and might just be a waste of time and effort as it may well be off-putting for the viewer. Hence, a great web design may need to sacrifice, in order to … satisfice!
It might sound obvious, but a website is not a book. People read books, they prepare to be in a reading mode when they open the cover and relax, unwind and escape into the story. The same is not true when people visit a website. People don’t relax into websites and they are not in a reading mode. They are more than likely in a “doing” mode and their antenna is on high alert as they scan the page (often not a homepage, by the way) for relevance.
People judge websites dispassionately and at great speed. A visit to a site page can be as little as 1-4 seconds before people bounce on to the next thing they want to do. Your website needs to communicate quickly what its central offer is, what your content covers, what your credibility is, your expertise and your experience, your services and so on. Essentially it has to meet the needs of their search query – and fast.
Understanding your site user is critical to achieving the results you are targeting and a basic refresh on general website behavior can highlight a number of areas to focus on:
– People tend to scan a webpage from top left to bottom right
– After people take in your site page above-the-fold, many will automatically scroll down to see what lies below so placing call-to-actions near the fold can be a very potent use of real estate
– Remember my oft referred adage that less is more so no long streams of plain copy. Break it up, sacrifice for the sake of user satisfaction, illustrate and you will tell a more compelling story
– Consider your language, tone and personality when writing for your site. There aren’t any rules but aim to be true to your audience and your brand
– Don’t over complicate the obvious. People visit websites every day, they know what to do and how to use them and they know it when they see a great web design
– Your product or service is EVERYTHING, so be focused
Finally, involve your audience in the process of creating your new web design not just the new site itself – if you have social media communities you already have a subset of customers or fans to begin a conversation. Community members will enjoy being invited to play a role in the process of creating your new website and understanding the issues and decisions you are grappling with. Being open might feel risky and like you are being too vulnerable but if done well this openness can provide some useful insights that can, in turn, be more thoroughly tested.