Hi, My Name is Donna
and since I'm a webmaster, I have a pretty good idea of what makes
a site work and what will drive visitors away. Here are my suggestions
for creating a well designed website.
Design Dos and Don'ts
Grammar and Spelling - Design the site to gently
lead the client through the learning and sales process. Your sales
text must be grammatically sound and spelled correctly. Poor spelling
immediately loses credibility points. Provide sufficient text
to tell your visitors what the features of the product are. Better
yet, tell them why they need to buy your product.
Browser Type - Contrary to popular belief (at
least at Microsoft) Internet Explorer is not the only web browser.
There are at least 100 different web browsers available. The three
most commonly used browsers are Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator
and Opera although the new Foxfire seems to be gaining in popularity.
Since the main three browsers represent over 85% of all users,
design your site to look good and work properly in all of these
Graphics and Photos - Images are
a wonderful to assist in the online sale of your products or services.
All images used should clearly depict the product or service.
Use original photography or scanned images. Studies show that
most people will "click away" if a website takes longer
than 10 seconds to load. Optimize your images for rapid download.
Also, always use the alt HTML tag so
that users with devices that have graphic download disabled (such
as slow connections or PDAs) know what was supposed to be on the
Multimedia - As a webmaster, I don't
recommend using multimedia on an most business websites designed
to sell products or services. By multimedia I mean flash presentations,
video clips and background sound. Recently audio streaming has
become a popular website tool. Only time will tell how successful
it is for business websites. Only use streaming multimedia and
use that only where it's essential. Of course, some sites such
as a video or music store must have multimedia. But only use multimedia
where it makes business sense.
Additionally, the user should have
the ability to start and stop all multimedia manually. That way,
users with slow connections can ignore it. Make sure to put the
same information contained in the multimedia in text format for
those who can't or won't use the multimedia. Also, put a link
to the download page for any browser plug ins your multi-media
Here for an example. Always remember the 10-second
rule for site loading when deciding to use multimedia.
Site Navigation - Site navigation
should be simple and intuitive. All the questions a visitor might
ask should be answered along the way. Where possible, adhere to
the "three click rule" - that is, a visitor should be
able to access any information regarding your product or service
within 3 clicks of any other area of your web site. Make sure
to check out whatever navigation method you decide to use in all
three of the major web browsers for compatibility. The only exception
to this rule are product sales pages particularly on mini-sites.
They normally only allow you to signup for something or purchase
Frames - Avoid using frames. You
want visitors to become customers. According to the marketing
experts, a visitor may view your website as many as seven times
before they buy anything from you. therefore, they need to be
able to find your website again so they can come back later. Frames
make it difficult, if not impossible, to bookmark individual pages
on your web site.
Recommended Web Site Pages
As a webmaster who has designed and setup several business
websites, I recommend that you eventually include all of the following
pages on your website.
Home Page - The
home page should contain your company logo and an introduction
to your company and/or your products or services. It is also a
good idea to have your company logo and a link to your contact
information on all pages. For a direct marketing mini-site the
home page usually is your sales page.
About Us or Company Profile
Page - This page provides a summary of the business,
your commitments and company goals and is crucial to boosting
consumer confidence. An online business is no different than a
traditional business. Most people like to put a face to the name.
When purchasing goods online form a new web site, I always go
to the About Us or Company Profile pages to get a "feel"
for the company before parting with my hard earned money. For
a direct marketing mini-site this information can also included
in your sales page.
Contact Page - Your
customers need to know how to get in touch with you. They need
your legal business name (if different from your web site name),
physical address, customer service contact information and an
email address for comments and questions and telephone number
if you provide telephone support. For a direct marketing mini-site
this information should be included at the bottom of your sales
Sales Pages or Catalogue
- These pages will contain the basic information about your products.
Catalogue pages frequently link to pages containing more detailed
information on a specific product or service. Both kinds of pages
link to a shopping cart or payment processor.
Service Agreement - This page should be linked to all
product pages. This should be a policy about the use of your website.
It may vary depending on what kind of website it is. (Check out
policy for an example.)
- "What are you going to do with my information?" is
essential to building consumer trust and required by law by many
doesn't necessarily require hiring a lawyer. (Check out our Privacy
Policy for an example.)
Disclaimer - Provides the information
needed to limit your company from unnecessary lawsuits. (Check
out or Disclaimer
policy for an example.)
For more information about the legal needs of
your website, see Internet
Optional Web Site Pages
Shopping Cart -
This contains the payment processing software and a temporary
storage area for displaying the products or services the customer
has decided to purchase and links to the check out page for actually
purchasing products and services. Click
Here for more information on shopping carts.
Thank You Pages
- Good customer service requires that you thank your customers
for purchasing from you or opting into to your email list. Normally
a thank you page can be specified in your payment processing or
autoresponder software setup to send your customer to after they
complete their purchase or registration.
Refund Policy Page - A refund
policy must be placed on your web site to avoid all kinds of unnecessary
legal problems. This page should also be liked to from all sales
pages. Alternately, you can add a guarantee to the sales page
Sign Up Page - You want to keep
your visitors long enough for them to become customers. Having
visitors sign up for a mailing list, a free offer or an e-zine
is one way to get permission to send them email.
FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Many product questions will be repetitive and you'll want to
add their answers to your FAQ page to both promote customer confidence
and save you valuable time. Since, an unanswered question may
translate into a lost sale, a well constructed FAQ page can coax
a hesitant customer into purchasing. You can link to the FAQ's
through the main navigation system as well as after every "buy
me" type statement. The FAQ's should be accessible within
one click of any other area of your web site that is dedicated
to selling your products or services.
Testimonials Page - Customer
testimonials are some of the best promotional copy around. Elicit
feedback from your current customers and ask their permission
to publish their comments on your site. Testimonials can be implemented
on a page of their own, or interspersed between your own statements
regarding the product. If you do implement a Testimonials page,
make sure that it can be reached with one click from any other
page on the site. For a direct marketing website customer testimonials
are usually included on the sales page.
Other Site Design Suggestions
Offering excellent customer support is the best
way to gain new customers and keep your existing customers. therefore,
you might want to consider offering the following:
Provide Downloadable Product Information
Sheets - Your visitor may just still be comparison shopping.
Since I do 85% of all my non-grocery shopping online, I do a lot
of comparison shopping on the internet. One method that has gotten
me to return to a web site for purchasing has been when they provided
valuable information about product or service with contact information
downloadable in PDF format. As a result, when I was ready to buy,
I went back to where I had gotten good customer service in the
form of free valuable information.
Provide Pre-Sales Email Support
- Offering to answer pre-sales questions should be encouraged
and clearly labeled. Just make sure that the emails are responded
to in a timely manner. The ideal window is within 24 hours. Longer
response time can be an indication of poor online product support.
When responding to customer enquiries, be sure your messages are
well thought out. Address the question asked thoroughly and offer
further support. Keep in mind that poor spelling and grammar can
lose a sale. When the same question has been asked several times,
add it to the FAQ page.
Click Here to read the website
design frequently asked questions.