Corporate web sites that are structured and built around the information needs of the target visitors work best. Those sites that are just aiming to broadcast the company message usually fail like printed corporate brochures full of dull vanity statements from directors. Here are few tips for creating better information-led web sites.
Ten Things You Should Do
- Understand why people visit your site. Ask a sample of your target audience what information do they need and how can you make it easy for them to find it? Simple structures work best with identified sections: products, locations, people, frequently asked questions, shop, jobs, and so on.
- Information cells. Under each heading, every paragraph should be able to stand-alone without reference to previous or following material.
- Many sites are like mazes where it is easy to get lost in the clutter. Repeat on every page the key section list so viewers can jump from one area to another easily.
- Make contact easy. Every page should have a contact button so the user can send you an e-mail or pinpoint your phone number. It is also a good idea to give a bricks and mortar address, especially if you are trading on-line. This reassures purchasers that you are a real business. Links to your social media pages should also be provided.
- Keep it corporate. Maintain the highest standards. The consistent use of corporate colours, logos and straplines helps to project the right image. A standard page template is useful as the primary building block on to which you can place customised information.
- Layered content. Sites need to have a structure that presents all the information people are most likely to require at the front where it is easily accessible. Other visitors may be seeking detailed information, annual reports, trading statements, product literature, data sheets, technical papers, and so on. This should be at a deeper level in the site.
- Pictures and video. Even text in well chosen fonts and well laid out can be a bit daunting for some. The web is a visual medium and good quality photography, video snippets, illustrations, maps and infographics will help reinforce the written word.
- Simple language. Communication isn’t about impressing people with how clever you are. Everyday language, that is free of jargon, is essential. Make sure you use key words in your headings, sub-heading and initial paragraphs. This will help your search engine positioning. However, don’t over do search optimisation as it often obscures clarity for the reader and may well get your site punished by search engines.
- Quality free content. The web is about building relationships by providing information. Free content helps to attract browsers, build a dialogue and also often enhances your search engine positioning.
- Remember the visually impaired. Don’t assume everyone has 20:20 vision. The majority of people do not. Choose a font and font size that is easily readable on a flat panel monitor, tablet or other mobile device. And do allow for the user to be able to increase the text size for better viewing.
Five Things You Should Not Do
- Don’t overdo the animation. A scrolling message or rotating font may be OK used sparingly, but excessive animation tends to distract and irritate.
- Don’t forget to update. You need to add new information regularly to maintain web search positioning and interest for returning browsers.
- Don’t play Hollywood. Special effects are for the movies. You need to be aware that not all internet technologies and users are up to the same speed of connection. Always think where and how your audience will access your web site. You do not wish to alienate any part of your audience by having a site that is slow to access. Consider ‘responsive design’ so your site automatically adapts to different access technology.
- Don’t use too many unfamiliar plug-ins. Many users have an understandable reluctance or do not have security permission to download plug-ins because of the fear of viruses or Trojans. This is especially true in a corporate environment.
- Don’t have pages that scroll excessively. If you have excessively long pages then the structure is wrong. Consider breaking the page down into more manageable parts.