Launching a website can be a milestone for any small business. Overnight, the company is provided with a way of communicating directly with clients, customers, stakeholders, and casual passers-by, who, with the aid of a web browser, are ‘just looking around’. Furthermore, the site can act as a promotional tool, coming in useful for product launches, and company and industry news.
However, there is also something of a risk that a new website will not live up to expectations. One problem is that, following the buzz that surrounds a launch, when the visits of colleagues, family, and friends tail away, interest can die down a little. Unfortunately, some site owners are not best prepared for this situation. In the worst-case scenario, a site can be so little used that the effort and expense that were put in to building it in the first place are wasted.
With this in mind, here are some hints and tips for sustaining user interest; ensuring that enticing new and returning users is sewn in to the fabric of the overall web design.
Keep it simple
Busy doesn’t always mean interesting, and in fact, a transparent, lean web design is far more likely to attract curious users. Rather than distract users with visual gimmicks (such as animated images and garishly coloured text), it is far better to find visually appealing ways of putting content in to the foreground.
Navigation is the tool, or set of tools, that enables a user to find their way around a website. Links to content must give clear guidance as to what the visitor can expect from one page or another. Meanwhile, when on the page, the user should always know exactly where they are, and how to get to a different destination should the need arise.
Visually quirky, but not over the top
This is one of the hardest challenges in website building, and where the true creativity in web design really lies. The site must be visually different from others, not necessarily blindingly original, but have some individual touches related to colour balance, the banner or the choices of fonts (or all of these elements) that lend it distinction. On the other hand, going too wild with design can backfire, so striking a balance is vital.
Strong emphasis on content
In this area, website design dovetails with editorial input. However, the designer should enable the editorial team to add new content easily and efficiently. Fresh, lively, ideally original, content is the lifeblood of any popular website. Users are far more likely to return to a site which is frequently updated. Regular content updates also help greatly with search engine optimisation.
Finally, a web design team should pay close attention to all other aspects of search engine optimisation; in particular keyword distribution and siting. After all, a site which gains, then maintains, a high position in search engine rankings is far more likely to attract and retain visitors in to the future.