Web Design and Development – Simplify Navigation to Attract and Keep Those Visitors

Clear and easy navigation is a central part of effective website design. Effective navigation can enhance user experience, build trust and loyalty and add to your client base. Conversely, difficulty in accessing information and outdated links can greatly degrade the reputation of your business and make you lose your customers.

Before you start designing your website, determine the number of pages it will have, the content of each page and how the pages will be linked to each other. Linked pages should use consistent font styles, graphics and colors. You can also look at the styles, colors and graphics of other popular websites and how they change from one link the next. There should never be any conflicting information on linked pages, as this can negatively influence your reputation and diminish your client base. Additionally, a web page must have all relevant links to enhance customer experience and satisfaction.

Quick and Easy Search

Your website should be designed in a way that it facilitates quick and easy search of desired information. In general, it should not take more than two to three clicks for customers to access the required information. If they cannot easily find what they are looking for, and have to browse through several pages before reaching their search items, they will get bored and turn their attention to other websites. Easy search capabilities make visitors’ browsing experience an enjoyable one.

As a rule of thumb, do not use more than five navigation bars. Additionally, provide options for your customers to review previously viewed content areas without having to use three or four links. In other words, it is always advisable to provide a link to the homepage on every web page of your site. Site maps can help customers and search engines to find web pages on your sites.

Selecting Navigation Links

Depending on the types of your business, you may need to provide links to different elements. The commonly highlighted elements include customer testimonials, return, guarantee, privacy and warrantee policies, credentials, discount and promotional offers, contact information, shipping cost, tracking information, site maps and the like.

Personalizing Navigation

It is always a good practice to personalize your website design and navigation to make your web pages more intuitive. Let us say you run a pet care service. Navigation buttons at the top of the page may include Home, Cat owners, Dog owners, Services, Rates, Contact. The faster your customers can navigate through your website and find what they are looking for, the more likely you are to get repeat visits from them.

Adding Links for Alternative Online Payment Methods

If you are selling products or services through your website, you should provide your customers with an alternative payment option. This could include an online order form and fax line or toll-free number. This gives cautious customers who do not want to use their credit cards online, an excellent payment option. This link should be included along with all other payment links.

Testing your Navigation Scheme

Once you implement a navigation scheme, get your friends, family and customers to test it out. Get people of different ages and backgrounds to use your website and evaluate the link and navigation structure. Their feedback will help you to assess its effectiveness and how it can be improved and refined. Further, your website links should be functional on more than one browser, for instance, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Monitoring Links

Regularly monitor your links to ensure proper functionality. Outdated links are annoying and may seriously affect your business reputation.

Simplicity and logical consistency in your navigation design makes it easy for customers to search desired pages and also puts your business in the best light and wins loyalty for your brand.

Website Development Process for Newbies

Website Development is a broad term which refers to all the steps which must be taken to turn an idea into a website. You have to be systematic and methodical about it – poor planning in the early stages can create problems down the line. Although Website development in Lafayette, LA can create amazing sites, and put a business in a small city such as Lafayette, LA on the map, they follow a fairly rigid pattern based on your requirements when they actually code the site. All the elements of the site must work together – if you change your mind on one aspect of the site, very often that will mean programming changes to the rest of the site as well…which can be a costly and time consuming enterprise. Solid planning from the beginning will go a long way to ensuring that the Website Development process is smooth.

You’ve got to start by asking ‘what is the purpose of this site’. Maybe you have a small website development company in Lafayette, LA. So your purpose is to promote your service. Your goal for your web presence is to consolidate and enhance your image, showcase your work to a wider audience – after all, there is no reason why a graphic designer in Lafayette, LA can’t do work for someone in California. What do you need to have in your website that will draw customers to you?

Identify your target audience. Most of them will be in Lafayette, LA – so envision the type of person who is likely to come to your site, and what their requirements will be. If you want to stick to graphic design for professional services, then your approach is going to be different than if you specialize in graphic design for posters for musicians and album covers. Website Development means you need to get clear on all of this before you start – or the process will be troublesome, nerve-wracking and may cost more than you budgeted for.

The next phase is planning. It’s a good idea to start from the point of the site map – which will list all the main topics of the site, set your navigation system in place, and clarifies what content your site needs to have. At this point in Web Development you also have to take into account e-commerce, whether you are going to use flash or not, how you plan to take orders and liaise with your clients, especially if you plan to do so over the net, and not in person.

Once all this is in place, you can move on to the Design part of Website development. How do you want your site to look and feel? Make sure you keep your design appropriate to your business image and the customers you plan to attract. Clean layout, pages that load quickly and good content are the watchwords here. At this point you will move onto what is referred to as the development phase. This is where your site is actually programmed. The developer will usually start with a home page and a shell for the interior pages. The front-end is of the site is what it will look like to your customers. The back-end is the part you will use to load content to. In consultation with your developer, you will also have to choose what coding language to use, and that your code complies with current web standards and can be updated readily as trends change.

Once the coding and the layout are in place, you can start loading content and testing the site. This is very important – links, animations, headings etc must work, and must display properly. At this point you also need to make sure your site is compatible with all the main browsers. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is an important feature of Website Development in Lafayette, LA – the best site in the world is worthless if the main search engines cannot find it and list it high in the rankings, so when search results are returned for Graphic Design in Lafayette, LA, the search engines have you at least on the first page. If you are planning to make some revenue from advertising, this is also something which has to be included in your Web Development strategy.

Once your site is up and running, bear in mind it will need maintenance and updating. If you have all these details in place, and your Web Development in Lafayette, LA has been sound, you will be on your way to creating a worldwide presence on the net for your small business in Lafayette, LA.

How a Professional Website Developer Can Help Your Business

A website is a necessity in today’s business environment. It is your online opportunity to connect to the millions of potential customers for your product or service. Your website is also a very visual representation of your business, and as such it is vitally important to project a professional image.

There are a number of web site design programs that can be used to generate a basic web site. They use basic templates for pages and limit the customization that can be done. These web sites are usually created by end users for their personal needs and for that they do an adequate job. However, for your business the last thing you need or want is a cookie cutter web site created by one of your employees, or worse, someone you paid to create that kind of site for you. A web development company or web design firm uses professional grade tools and programming languages to create a customizable, unique web site that will provide you with something a template designed site can’t give, pizazz!

Did you know that the average first time visitor spends only 30 seconds on your website? If your site doesn’t grab the viewers attention quickly they’re going to move on and probably not return. Even if you do keep them around you can still lose up to 45% of those visitors on their second visit if they don’t perceive that your site has something new to offer. By using professionally designed graphics a web design firm can help you keep those first time visitors at your site longer, retain your existing visitors and those same professionally designed images make your business look its best.

By using dynamic content, content that changes based on criteria you set up or based on user preferences, a web development company can help you retain more of your visitors after their second visit to your site. Interactive tools, only available through a web design firm can keep your visitors engaged so that they stay longer and want to come back. A clean, logical, easy to navigate site structure makes it easier for your customers to find what they are looking for fast and with minimal effort, and that translates into money for your business.

Of course the biggest challenge any business faces is getting your web site found among the millions of web sites on the net, or even among the admittedly fewer sites of your competitors. Using a technique called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a professional web development firm can raise your site’s rankings in search engines like Google, Yahoo, or MSN. By using specific keywords search engine friendly design and programming techniques a professional web design firm can have your site listed at or near the top of every category in which your business fits.

Web site design and development firms provide consultation services with design specialists who will work with you to get the most pleasing design for your business. Graphic designers will use their years of training and experience to assure that your site is not only visually pleasing and easy to navigate, but that has the added benefit of being a unique representation of your business, now and in the future. A web site is not a static entity. It must keep up with trends in design as well as project a fresh face to your customers. Periodic redesigns or more frequent minor face lifts will ensure that your business projects a professional, relevant and timely image.

A professional web design company, well versed in SEO and graphic design, is your best partner in the battle to drive visitors to, and keep visitors on, your site.