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

September 18th, 2018

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 Conversely, difficulty in accessing information and outdated links can greatly degrade the reputation of your business and make you lose your customers.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.

Finding the Best Web Design Solution

September 16th, 2018

Web design has become much easier than it was back when I first began building websites. There were a few programs that offered some WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interfaces, but you still had to do a good deal of the HTML coding by hand to get pages just how I wanted them. Javascript coding was done almost entirely by hand. Add to this all the new technologies that have emerged. CSS, PHP, ASP.NET, AJAX, and Web 2.0. Fortunately new technologies have come along to make things easier as well. You can either install software to build your own site, or use an online site builder.

Webpage creating software.

Web Design Software
Programs like Dreamweaver and Visual Studios now remove any need to do any HTML coding, but there is still the occasional need to modify code, but for the most part all the basic coding is done for you. If you are building a simple static site, this might be all you need. If you need to access information from a database, provide and dynamic and interactive site, or develop an e-commerce site; there is no way around having to know some coding.

Build It Yourself Web Design
Another alternative is to use a one of the online build-it-yourself services. Google lets you build free pages, and you can build an ecommerce site (for a fee) using Yahoo! or Big Commerce. These are just a couple options; there are literally hundreds of options. Having used several of these programs, I can say you can build a very nice website, with a lot of great features quite easily. The problem with these options arises when you need your website to do something unique that is not a feature of the site builder. There are a couple of other disadvantages with these types of sites. First, you are tied to services provider for your site. If for any reason, they go out of business or just decide to stop offering the service, you have to start over. This has happened with Lycos, Angelfire and many others. If you have a site built on HTML / Web programming languages, you can host your site where ever you wish without having to redo anything. Second, with these online site-builders, you are normally charged a monthly fee considerably higher than it would cost to simply have the site hosted on your own. The initial cost of hiring a web designer will be much higher, but if you plan to keep your site several years, you will not only save money in the long run, but you will have a much more flexible and customizable design that you own and do with as you please.

Web Design using Content Management Systems
A third option is called a Content Management System. These are like a hybrid between web building software and online site builders. CMSs are pieces of software that you install on a web server. Some of the best and most popular CMSs are free to use. Once installed they assist you in building your own site much like the online site-builders. CMS software is usually has a steeper learning curve than online site-builders, but can create incredibly robust, well featured websites. In the hands of a seasoned web developer, a CMS can be customized to provide almost anything you wish. One strategy I would recommend is to have a professional web designer build a site for you using a CMS, and let you do your own updates and changes. With a CMS making these changes is very simple and about as complex and using a word processor. With this strategy you’ll have a website that can still be upgraded and customized if needed, but you still control it and can have it hosted anywhere you wish without an additional cost for using the software. A web developer that has experience in building CMS websites will normally charge less to build a CMS based site as opposed to building and coding one from scratch.

Crafting the Perfect “About Me” Page for Web Designers

September 15th, 2018

For web designers specifically, one of the most reliable and effective ways of turning a prospective client into a buying client is by providing a detailed, yet straight-to-the-point “About Me” page. It is essential to have a page that tells about yourself and your work. With today’s ever developing technology and Internet communication connections, clients need to find out who you are without speaking to you.

To develop a great “About Me” page, there are several tips below to help you.

1. Know your audience: The first step in crafting a really great “About Me” page is to know who you are talking to or who you are trying to engage. Time and time again, I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of knowing your audience, however, even with an “About Me” page the same rules apply. Start by asking yourself who you want to attract, what projects you want to work on and in what area or field. Do you want small businesses or large businesses or individuals? Also, being specific as possible is a great idea. Do so by identifying your audience into gender, ages, locations and possibly, occupation. With having your prospects identified, your “About Me” page will encompass your top talents and skills in the areas of your prospects interest.

Tip: Be the Client: Re-read your “About Me” page results and view it as if you were the client. Are all you questions addressed? Be sure to take into consideration your past clients opinions or questions they may have asked. This will help to develop a great “About Me” page.

2. Be the Problem Solver: the main reason a client will view your “About Me” page is to see if you have the necessary skill, talent, and effectiveness to complete their tasks. When developing your “About Me” page, keeping in mind these issues and addressing each one will help the client make the decision to hire you. Projecting an image of your worthiness to their web design project is a must, especially if you want satisfying and great projects to work on. When writing your “About Me” page, begin with a few personality traits and move into a real-life experience that shows your commitment and skills necessary to overcome whatever that experience was. After that move on to your background experience, education, and location. You don’t want it to sound too much like a resume, but rather a few interesting key points about you. Here is a basic outline for your “About Me” page:

1. Address your full name and occupation
2. Describe your niche or area of interest
3. Address your experience in Web Design, Web Developing or both
4. Slip in some personality traits – be both detailed and short
5. Provide links to awards, past projects, interviews etc.
6. Provide information about your work experience and education
7. Reveal more personal information like family, location, age, and personal hobbies etc.

Tip: Be sure to use the same order of topics because if you start from the bottom and move up, the client will not be interested. You must first, give them a reason to be there before telling them information about yourself that may be viewed as useless info.

3. Use a Photo: Simply stated, consider adding a semi-professional photo of you so the client can see who they are working with. It’s not required, but it definitely has a positive impact on the hiring process. Sometimes, photos can even be credited with leaving a trusting impression on the client.

4. Contact Information: Do NOT forget to include contact information. Although it seems like common sense, people forget it all the time OR put it in a small corner where no one will see it unless they spend the time hunting for it, in which most people will not. However, most web designers do have a page dedicated to contact information only; it’s not a bad idea to put it on your “About Me” page too. This way, if a client feels inclined to speak to you promptly, your contact information will be right there.

It’s important to stress the factor that an “About Me” page is essential to your success as a web designer or web developer. The same stress should be applied to the crafting of the “About Me” page, because a bad page will not get you more work. Use the tips above to craft a really great “About Me” page and keep in mind that you need to project professionalism, personality and influence.