Principles of website design for a succesful website

Principles of website design for an appealing website

It is necessary for companies to have a website which is appealing and useful for their customers/visitor. There are a number of web page design principles that are absolutely crucial if you plan on achieving a web site that works.

2. Content  and Ease of Use!!!!!  Content is king. It is the information available on your website that attracts the visitors. They want question on their answers, solve their problems and they don’t want to spend a lot of time on a website to achieve their goals.  Website visitors should be able to find what they need as quickly as possible and do what they intended to do. If the website is lacking proper ease of use it will make it difficult for people to find what they are looking and they will soon enough leave.

 According to Forrester Research, what users are seeking in a website are High Quality Content, Easy to use, quick to download, Frequent site update.

 Usability Guidelines:

  • Focus on content before graphics

Use of graphics is attractive, but the visitors are on your website for the
information available on the website.

  • Decide on 1 writing style & stick to it
    Find here more information on web copywriting
  • Make the site easy to navigate with consistent navigation- Choose for intuitive design
  • Make your site accessible
  •   Reasonable site download time,
  •  Easy to read text (dark text color and light background or vice versa) with
    right size font size.
  • Mobile friendly
  • Disability friendly

2.      Design

  • Page Layout and Consistency

If the design of your web pages is consistent throughout the website, you will meet visitors’ expectations. Visitors are relying on their intuition when browsing. This is why employing a Conventional page layout, consistent through your site, will be the best choice to make.

 

 

- Logo on the top left side in the Header, with tagline linked to home page

- Search box on the top right side

-Main Navigation on Top Horizontal is preferred; Sub-navigations to the left, Secondary navigation at bottom in footer with links to privacy, sitemap, about etc, Bread crump navigation below the main Horizontal Main Navigation to show the clickable travelled pad.

-Be consistent throughout your website to meet visitors’ expectations.

  • Graphic Design

- Do not exaggerate with images and keep the files small for short loading time. Less is more.

-  Fonts – Use common fonts consistently through the site and choose 1 main fonts for the content

-   Colors – Think of the contrasts when using colors. It should not be annoying for the eyes. I have seen many companies using the colors of their logo. Colors should fit site’s mood, tone and intention. Learn the art of color psychology!

-White space –Avoid information overload (noise) and increases readability

-  Aesthetics –The overall appearance of the site should look balanced and pleasing. Colors and fonts need to be harmonized with the theme of the site and not be centers of attention themselves. Page backgrounds need to act as the frame for the text and graphics without overpowering the pages.

 3.      Speed

Visitors are impatient and the longer your website takes to load the more visitors you will lose.  It should not take more than 1-2 seconds to load. Too much graphics and poorly optimized images will slow down the loading time.

Content should be easy to scan so the visitor can find the information a.s.a.p. and keep your content short. A long story with poor structure is not scannable.

4.      Clear and Consistent Navigation

-  Clear and consistent navigation is strongly supported by placing important navigation elements in ‘standard navigational’ areas on the web page design.

- Use simple text in your Navigation to make the Navigation clear and intuitive

- If the visitors get stock, they should be able to know where they are. To guide them, provide Bread Crumb Navigation.

-  Sitemap and Search options allows visitor to find quickly the information they want

5.      Interactivity

Do you want your visitor to spend more time on your website, visit your website again and build brand affinity? Then this is what you can do:

- Call for action on your web pages to contact the contact person in company

-Offer visitors to subscribe for your newsletters

-Put feeds to follow you on twitter or any other social media community

-Provide downloads

-Video demonstrations

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Do you have any other advice for an appealing website? Please share.

Guidlines to improve the usability of your website’s content

In my previous blog post, Know Your Website Users, I mentioned that website visitors tend to scan content on the web looking for the information they are after. They want answers to their questions. They are looking for information that will solve their problem and they want to get it as quickly as possible as they are so impatient and in hurry.

For the above reasons the following guidelines will be helpful when writing copy for your content.

1. Write to grade level 6-8 and use clear, short and simple language
The simpler the style of writing the easier it gets for the site visitors to absorb the
information they read. Use active rather than passive voice, which will force you
to be concise.

2. Use short, concise and direct headlines (get to the point) on pages and paragraphs.
Use maximum of 10 words to impress your prospective readers and encourage them to read the rest of your text.  Headlines or titles turn a browser into a reader. It must promise some kind of benefit for the reader to get them read more. Be brief, but not boring.

3.  Limit each paragraph to 1 idea
In this way there is less chance that they skip the important information.
This strategy is especially effective when you combine it with # 4 of this list.

4. Front load content a.k.a. putting the conclusion first
Use this on pages and within the paragraphs

5.  Use consistent vocabulary and voice/tone throughout pages/site

6. Use brief abstracts, no more than 2 sentences

7. Bolden important words
Bolden few words (2-3) to highlight the main point of the paragraph.

8. Avoid ‘click here’ links and use descriptive links instead to accommodate the site visitor’s scanning process of the web pages.

9. Use of Multimedia
To enhance readability and to grab readers’ attention use photos, graphics and videos. Don’t use this heavily, because then you will distract the readers. Think on how to illustrate your text.

10. To highlight the content on the pages use call-out box to encourage site visitors to read the content.

11. Keywords for Search Engine Optimization
Consider the keywords most relevant to your page, and think of ways to include them in the title and body of your article by using Google’s Keyword Tool.

 

If you know of any other guideline(s) which can be helpful, please share.

What Website Visitors Think and Want

In order to meet web user’s expectation from your web site, it is essential to understand users’ interaction with the web-sites, how they think and their basic patterns of behavior.

What users think and want

Users often leave Web pages in 10–20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer (www.useit.com). High quality content is more important than the design which supports it.

Web users are in hurry and impatient. They follow their intuition when going through the websites and want the information they are looking for instantly with minimum effort, less clicks.

Users scan more than they read. They scan for lists, keywords and hyperlinks. In fact, there are large parts of the page they don’t even look at.

The users are initially ”trained” by website designers to look for th menus in a top horizontal position and left column vertical position. This is the basis of the ‘F pattern’, (F=fast. That is how visitors initially read website content, in a few seconds).

The following F-shaped  Eyetracking Pattern for scanning and reading Web Content shows that the focus is on Bullet Lists and there is no viewing of right hand promotions.


Red
= areas where users Looked the most
Yellow = fewer fixations
Blue = least viewed
Grey = no fixations

Web users’ wish list.

-          They want to read in short bursts, a little at a time
–          They want to grab the information they need and move on
–          Want only the information they need
–          Do not want to read information not relevant to the task at hand

To help users scan and read your web page:

-          Online content should be 50% shorter than print
>Break long stories into parts
>Break up content with short sub-headings
–          Highlight keywords – Hypertext links and colors serve as highlight
–          Use call-out boxes to highlight content
–          Bullet points
–          Numbered lists or steps
–          Tables
–          Meaningful Bold sub-heads – avoid ‘’clever’’ subtitles
–         Bold to highlight key phrases or concepts

Source: Foundations of Digital Marketing course @UFT by Michelle Corsano

The Importance of Web Marketing for a Profitable Business

What is web marketing?
I have read a lot of confusing definition for web marketing, but this is the definition which makes more sense to me. Web marketing is a mix of traditional marketing principles and interactive marketing methods applied to meet the needs of customers who interact with a company online.

If you are not on the Web you don’t exist
In today’s internet era most of us have access to internet and we use it to find solutions to our problems. This means that that visibility on web is very crucial for companies who want to reach us, their customers, because if you are not on internet you don’t exist!  This is why web marketing is becoming very important to every company’s marketing mix.  Now even small to mid- sized companies are able to reach their customers on global scale with their tight budget.

Visibility on web is the Key to effective Pull/inbound Marketing Strategy.

This marketing strategy focuses on getting found by customers.

Instead of interrupting people with traditional marketing, such as TV ads, Telemarketing and SPAM-email, companies are providing information to their customers who are interested in receiving them, permission-based.  In this way they are able to attract qualified customers to their business.

Pull Marketing - Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing Components

This pull marketing strategy is comprised of the following:

-          Blog – Is a Web site, but a special kind of website where an individual or a group of individuals are sharing information, with the world, on their area of expertise/passions. And companies can use this to attract people with informative content.

David Meerman Scott, Author ‘The new Rules of Marketing and PR’ has mentioned the four uses of blogs for marketing and PR purposes.

  1. To easily monitor what people are saying about you, your target market, your organization and its products.
  2. To Participate in those conversation by commenting on other people’s products
  3. To word with bloggers who write about your industry, company or products
  4. To begin to shape those conversations by creating and writing your own blog

Blog

-       Search Engine OptimizationRefers to techniques that help your website rank higher in the organic/natural search results, by improving internal and external aspects of the website. This helps more people who are looking for your products/services to find you.

Search Engine Optimizatio

-          Social Media – The impact of social media has resulted that people are more connected with each other through social networks. This has resulted in an increasing spread-ability of information and customer experiences.  Very effective and cost efficient way to engage directly with your customers and to share your message

Social Media

The 7 Benefits of Web Marketing:

1. Cost reduction – For example no need for printed marketing communication materials

2. Immediacy of response – Time efficient

3. It is now easier to target specific consumer demographics with a personalized message /offer.

4. Everything is Measurable by tracking and illustrating data in detailed graphs that illustrate traffic growth, leads, sales conversions and customer behavior.

5. Consumer engagement (interaction) – Direct interaction with your customers can enable you to gather valuable information and to develop relationships with their customers to help increase client retention levels

6. Reach –   You can now avail your service anytime of the day or the night and expand your market internationally with no extra costs, which is the biggest benefit to small organizations.

7. Easy to use – Most of us have access to internet and know how to use the internet .  The tools available on internet to engae with people and share information on web are ready to use.

 

 

Top 5 Must Haves for Fall & Winter 2012/2013 for MEN

Color Trends

The following colors were most seen during the fall/winter 2012/2013 men fashion shows of different designers.

Black, navy blue, brown,  beige and unlike last years’ color trend, this year we have seen lots of  mustard and burgundy colors on the catwalks. Burgundy is a must have for this season, even if it is a small item like gloves or a scarf.

My top 5 favo trends for the fashionable men are:

1. Pattern Sweater– Like last year’s trend even this year is the Nordic pattern sweater very hot.
This affordable crew neck pattern jumper will keep you warm and stylish at the same time.

Pattern Sweater for men
H&M – 39.95

2. Pattern Shirts – Mixing patterns will be a challenge, but if you want to stand out from the crowd (in a positive way) I suggest you to go crazy with this trend and mix for example plaid pattern with stripe.  Plaid / Checked or spot- printed shirts looks very stylish with a stripe tie and especially when you combine this style with a vest.

Mixed Patterns D&G
Mixed Patterns – D&G

Checked Shirt trend
Checked shirt-H&M- $34.95

3. Cardigan- Colored and pattern cardigans are easy to wear and will make your simple outfit more interesting. You can wear it as leisure wear or combine it with a collar shirt for your work

Blue Cardigan for Men
H&M Cardigan- $ 49.95

Men Cardigan Zara
Zara Cardigan-$79.90

4. Coats – The following interesting styles were spotted on the runways.
Leather detailing in the coats as sleeves, pockets, collar and etc.
Military style coats
Coats with Fur or sheepskin collar



Coat with leather sleeves-Zara- $269

Coat with Sheepkin collar
Coat with trimmed sheepskin-Zara- $289

5. Boots are ideal for the cold winter months and this fall/winter there are very stylish boots available for men. The main two materials for men’s boots are leather and suede in basic colors, such as black, grey and brown. You can go for a dress to impress formal style boots or just causal comfy ones.

Dress Boots for Men

Dress Boots-Aldo-$120

Casual Boots Men

Casual Boots-Ald0-$150

Please feel free to share your favo trends for this fall/winter for MEN!

Top 5 must haves for fall/winter 2012/2013

One of the reasons why I love the change of seasons is because of the breathed fresh fashion ideas into the stores every season. For fast fashion retailers it is a challenge to get the new fashion trends as fast as possible to their customers. The trends and rage can even change middle in the seasons, which means that the retailers should be able to react quickly and get the new styles to their customers while there is still demand for the new trends. This is a very good reason to go for shopping on regular basis to inspire ourselves with all the new styles and to keep up, what a hard life he.

For this fall/winter I made a list of my top 5 favorite trends and included examples of the affordable must have pieces in your wardrobe for this season. It is not about how much you pay for it, but how you wear it!

  1. Leather – I don’t think leather has ever been out of fashion, but in fall/winter season we see them more often.  I don’t prefer total leather look, but hey if you are a real leather lover, you have plenty of choices in leather suits. Personally I prefer clothing with leather insets rather than total leather items. For example the below viewed trendy dress and coat from zara are made from combination of fabric and leather. Dress with Leather insets

    Zara – $ 79.90

    Coat with leather and fabric zara
    Coat with leather sleeves from Zara-$ 249

    2.  Peplums – they have been popular in summer and they are very trendy this fall/winter season too, but not in bright colors as in the summer. I have seen them mostly In skirts and dresses and often in dark colors. This Peplum classy dress is my must have.Black peplum dress

    Zara – $69.90

     3.  Floral prints- Usually we see them during warmer seasons, but this fall/winter they are hot in darker prints. For example this floral peplum dress is great for winter holiday parties. If you are not fan of dresses and skirt then you can go for floral printed trousers.

    Floral dress peplum

                 H&M – $ 39.95

    Printed trouser

                   H&M – $ 39.95

    4. Knits – A must have for the cold winter months to be warm and feel comfy. There are so many stylish varieties available in knitwear this season, such as knitted sweaters, dresses and cardigans. I love the oversized knit cardigans because you can wear it in so many different ways, like with a belt or even over your summer dresses!

    Oversized knit cardigan

    asos.com – $ 34

    5. Military Inspired Style is becoming more and more popular and this season its presence is very strong. I don’t like a military style dominated outfit, but an outfit with a touch of this trend will give your outfit a bit of sturdy look.

    Military style coat zaraMilitary Style Coat from Zara-$ 159

    Military Style Dress zaraMilitary Style Dress from Zara-$99.90

    Military Style BootiesMilitary Style Ankle Boots from La Chateau- $69

    So these are my favo trends of this seaon.  Please comment and share your fashion obsessions for this fall/winter.

Canadian discount designer market gets crowded

Canadian discount designer market gets crowded

The competition in designer discount market in Canada is increasing to meet customers’ demand.  The Toronto based RioCan REIT started partnership  with U.S.-based Company Tanger Outlet Centers Inc. in 2011 and brought U.S.-style premium outlet malls to Canada. They bought the Cookstown Outlet Mall  in Toronto for the first project and agreed to  develop  designer outlet centers in Ottawa and Mississauga. They have recently announced to open outlet centers in Montreal as well.

According to International Council of Shopping Centres data, sales are comparatively stronger in Canadian Market.  So no wonder that more and more U.S retailers targeting the Canadian designer discount market. I was wondering why Canadian based high-end fashion retailers were not competing with those foreign retailers by expanding their markets, until I saw on television that Holt Renfrew has announced this week to introduce a ‘unique’ concept to fill a void in the Canadian retail marketplace by offering designer items to less-wealthy shoppers, mid-level market. The new HR2 store is to open in March 2013 in Montreal and will be expanded with another store in Ontario in spring. The HR2 stores will offer products from the many same designers that supply Holt Renfrew stores, but would have its own HR2 private label and different products then the products available at the Holt Renfrew’s traditional stores. I can’t wait to admire the new HR2 stores! I really expect that more Canadian retailers will  follow Holt Renfrew’s concept to expand their markets and meet customers’ demand.

Holt Renfrew is getting more competition. According to Reuters, Nordstrom Inc. has also announced to open its first Canadian Stores in Calgary in 2014, spring 2015 in Ottawa and Vancouver; and fall 2016 in Toronto. Nordstrom is also considering opening 12 to 15 its lower-priced Rack outlets as well.

Just to give you an idea what I meant with ‘Canadian discount designer market gets crowded’ I have found information about planned Outlet Centres in Canada for 2013-2014.

Outlet Centres Planned in Canada
Source: Thinkretail.com

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