Everybody who claims to be somebody has a website. All the cool kids have one. Politicians, celebrities, companies, businesses, charities, and even synagogues and churches have their own websites. However, it seems that many, many people don’t seem to understand the purpose of their own site, or else have left the design of their site in the hands of online pokies who don’t.
In an age where there are literally millions of websites you can access instantly from your pocket, making sure that you have got your fundamentals covered can make your website stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure that you understand what your website’s purpose is, and how to apply that knowledge!
The Front Page
So, what is the purpose of your site?
Are you a business? If so, what kind of information would a potential customer want when going to your site? All the basics should be available immediately on the front page. Your companies name, your logo, your location, and, most importantly, your main product or service should be immediately obvious.
Are you a streaming service? Videos should be available on the front page. A game developer? Your main titles should be right there. A gardener? Pictures of your work need to be upfront.
No matter what you do, it should be clear and obvious who you are and what you do.
Protect your Site from Yourself
Idiot-proofing your site doesn’t just mean making the site easy to navigate for dumb people. It’s certainly that too, but the worst idiot your site can be exposed to is you.
Something might seem obvious to you, but you know your own website like the back of your hand. You’ve been coding, organizing, and writing on it for who knows how long. You know its quirks.
However, when Jim Bob Joe comes along and clicks onto your site, he won’t be able to navigate it as you can. And if poor Jim can’t find what he’s looking for, he’s gonna look somewhere else, and I shouldn’t need to explain why that’s bad for business.
Form Follows Function
A phrase I learned from Medieval enthusiasts is “form follows function”. A suit of armor can look awesome, but if it doesn’t have any joints, you’ll be stuck and any enemy with a spork will kill you dead.
In the context of websites, the design of the site should be based on its function. Your site should look like it does what it does.
If you’re gonna have lots and lots of pages, with lots and lots of content, navigating your site is going to be a key design point. And remember, less is more. Try to take an objective look at your website’s features. If there’s something you don’t need, cut it. It’ll only confuse and annoy your potential customers.
Speaking of features, you must make sure that the features you do decide to keep work properly. That might seem obvious, like, of course the website needs to work properly, duh. But it’s not that simple.
I’m circling back to the idea of idiot-proofing your site. Let’s say your site allows you to create an account, and one of the features you need to fill out is a telephone number. Does the user need to include hyphens between certain digits or not? If they do, will it affect other features?
It’s that kind of redundancy programming and user testing that will push your site above and beyond the regular chaff.
Apply this Knowledge
So, you’re sitting here reading this article and your wondering, does my site reach these standards?
Well, navigate to your site and give it a simple stress test. Heck, even better, have a friend do it and see how well it goes. Ask your grandma to help (she’ll be thrilled!).
Have them go to your site, and have them tell you what your main product is. If you’re a physical business, where are you located? Have them open an account, if your site has a login, and check if they struggle at any point. Are there visual elements that distract them?
Having a guinea pig (no offense, grandma….) find your site’s weaknesses will help you overcome your blind spots, and help you, and your site, for the better.