To the uninitiated, the Internet is shrouded in mystery, and what you think will work, probably won't. But the simple principle that it is used by humans helps remove that veil and mystery. To those in the know, the Internet is very fluid, and changing faster than ever. It's barely recognizable from what was standard just a few short years ago.
Some things don't change over time though. If you can keep up with technological changes and accommodate the diversity of Internet devices in use, it simplifies the otherwise mind numbing changes. Applying unchanging rules with advances in Internet access devices will help you rise above the crowd and have a web site design that doesn't leave you disillusioned.
Let's look at a few unchanged principles to be successful online:
It's amazing how often this most basic mistake gets made, even by many web designers. When creating a web site, it is for your customers or clients, your visitors, and not for you the web site owner. Yes, that sounds awful, but if you take this to heart, the extra cash from your success will help restore your bruised ego.
To help clarify this principle, let's look at how the mistakes get made. One of the most common errors is a “we” focus. This is when a web site talks about themselves instead of speaking to the visitor. Humans on the Internet do not have to be polite, so they're not. If a site does not address their needs, they leave.
Another common error is assuming the visitors care about the same thing you do, or at least from the same perspective. When this mistake gets made, the result is a web site that talks to itself, or reads like it was written to a co-worker. To be successful, you must find out what is important to your visitor, and then deliver it.
There is one primary truth that your web designer absolutely must know to help you succeed online. The Internet is very, very different from all other media. The techniques that work offline will not work as well on a web site, and they may not work at all. People do not respond the same way online as they do offline.
The Internet can help you build relationships better than other media, and humans thrive on relationships. If you use the Internet to try to “sell” your visitors, this common error leads to disappointment. To succeed, the best approach is to “serve” your visitors and become relationship minded.
Due to the misuse of special effects and multimedia content in web design, it is important to say a few things about that. Large online companies have spent millions and millions of dollars researching web design and visitor behavior. There is nothing to gain by doing what this expensive research has shown to be profit killers.
Think about Google, eBay, Amazon, and other big names. Do you see wild animation and gizmos jumping all over the screen clamoring to distract your attention? You won't see anything that says, “Click here to enter” or “Skip Intro” either.
We are definitely not saying that multimedia content and special effects are bad, or that you should not use them. We strongly suggest caution though. If your web site design confuses or annoys your site visitors, you lose — permanently. Those visitors will leave and never come back.
It should also be noted that as user patterns have been studied, the results consistently show that well over 75% of web page users are drawn to the text before they even notice the graphics. People use web sites for information, yet all too often, graphics are emphasized more than they should be.
The statistics make sense when you think about it. If people are using search engines to find content, they will naturally be interested in the content if you have what they are looking for.
Good web page design is content driven and interactive. Good web design has sensible navigation and layout. The web site visitor can easily figure everything out, and they can easily find the content they are looking for. Good web design builds loyalty and relationships.