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Web design is an often neglected aspect of websites that can cost the owner dearly. A website should be designed with retaining the visitor as the sole objective. It’s not selling, and it’s not necessarily making the site look pretty, but keeping the visitor there for those first few seconds.

The traffic statistics of the vast majority of websites will show that that most visitors leave within 30 seconds. What that means is that most websites are failing to attract the interest of the visitor, and if yours is an ecommerce site, than that is another lost customer. Web design is the major critical element of any web site, and includes aspects of the site such as aesthetic appeal, giving visitors what they are looking for, ease of use, and so on.

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

Artistry and Aesthetics
Would you walk into a dingy dark store that looked as if no care or attention had been paid to it in years? Of course not! I’m not saying you must use bright colors, because many niches and product types don’t need bright colors, but it should have an appeal that doesn’t turn people away.

Web design should reflect the product or service being offered, and the experience of webmasters over the years has been that conservative colors and designs are better received by visitors to certain types of online store than bling. OK for a jewelery shop, but not for selling golf balls. If you want to retain a child’s interest, on the other hand, then you will do so with bright jazzy colors and a bit of movement on your website.

Having designed your home page, leave it for a day or so and then open it online and look at it. Would you stay on that site, or go ‘Uurghh’ and click away? Ask your friends to check it out and get their reactions.

Consistency

Be careful when designing your home page, because that will be the template for your entire website. Visitors do not like to see each page designed differently, and the successful sites have a continuity of web design throughout the website. The search engines also like that continuity.

Give Them What They Expect

If you advertise golf balls, don’t send them to a page offering golf shoes. Give your visitors what they expect to see and make it obvious. If you are selling Microscopes, don’t make them need one to see them! Web design involves more than just the colors and shapes you use, but also how visible your products are to your visitors.

Ease of Use

This can be a massive topic: how often have you visited a website and wondered what you are meant to do next or how to order or pay for something? It is very common, especially where functionality has been sacrificed for looks. A website can look really good and well designed while being very difficult for prospective customers to use.

Again, put yourself in the place of your visitor. Can she get to the page she wants within two clicks or does she have to travel through a maze to purchase that fabulous watch she has her eyes set on for her boyfriend. After two clicks most people tend to get fed up and click that white cross on the red square. Lost forever!
Good web design technique is to get the mechanics of the site right. Make it simple for customers to find and purchase multiple products and then work on making it look nice. A good looking site with fabulous web design, artistry and aesthetical appeal will fail if your customers find it difficult to use.

Here is what good web design is and how to achieve it:

  1. Each page should be based on a template containing the same elements in the same places, and consisting of the same colors. A visitor does not want the main navigation on the left side on one page, at the top on the next and the switching to the right. Colors should be consistent throughout the site.
  2. The page should look good, and the colors and design be suitable for the theme of the website. It should be designed artistically, and although that is a subjective concept, it is possible for web design to be aesthetically appealing to most people so that they will remain on the page over that vital first half minute or so.
  3. The navigation should lead visitors to the main catalog pages within a maximum of two clicks. Any products not available within two clicks will not sell.
  4. Any shopping cart should be able to be filled without going to checkout until the customer clicks on ‘Checkout’.
  5. Think of a shopping mall store, and then replicate that on your website. Replicate the ease of travel between departments, the ease of filling your shopping cart and the ease of paying for everything at one checkout using one payment method.

All of that adds up to good web design: not just the colors and design of the page, but of the overall look, feel and functionality of the entire website. If you find that difficult to achieve, then there are ecommerce platforms available that can help to do it for you: some, such as Magento, are even free online to download. Using that you will have no excuses for losing potential customers through poor web design.