I have never met a client that wanted a confusing or ugly website. I only know people who want to be at the top of their industry. I’ve got bad news though: even some of the top people in some of the big industries have bad websites. That’s because money isn’t what makes a good website (though it helps.) Good design and execution make a good website. I have three general principles for web design that will save you heartache and get you business: keep it clean, keep it fresh, and keep it obvious.
Keep it Clean
Let me start by saying this is hard. You’ve got a complex, real-world business. There’s a lot to say about how great you are. But it’s too easy to fall in the trap of trying to find a spot for every bit of content on every page. Not every new thing is “the most important thing”. You need to understand what your users are looking for, then pare it down as far as you can. Find your message, and stick with it.
Keep it Fresh
If keeping clean is hard, then keeping fresh is easy. (Unless you’re Outkast. They are both.) Your website shouldn’t say it’s 2007. Or 2009. Or anything other than the year it is. It shouldn’t have pictures of employees who left in shame after the last Christmas party. Not because of the shame, because they aren’t there anymore. Especially with a Content Management System, there’s no reason not to keep things fresh. It makes you look professional and relevant.
Keep it Obvious
Your business website can be clean and fresh and still not convert traffic to sales if it’s not obvious. A call-to-action is that thing you want your user to do: make a phone call, buy your widget, download your e-book. If you don’t ask them to do that, then they won’t, because they don’t know that’s the point. If you say “Well, it’s obvious!” then just make it look obvious. Don’t make anyone guess how to be your customer.
Getting a website is not a “one-and-done” type of activity. The web is changing, growing, and advancing, and part of being in business is keeping up. If your site is clean, fresh, and obvious, you’ve made it for today. Tomorrow, check back. You change, your customers change, and the medium changes. Stay on top and ride the wave.