POINTS TO PONDER ABOUT WEB DESIGN
These are facts gathered over the last 10 years, which include the time I spent
teaching web design at a local collage, and different studies, read over the years
on the Web. I personally find them fascinating but feel free to skip to the next
The first and most important point to think about is that the main function of
a website is to sell. Whether it is a product, idea or service - the site is there
to sell. A web designer needs to know about design and technology, but also how
to sell something.
The secret to selling is to create a feeling. As some ad man once said: "Don't
sell the steak - sell the sizzle."
A current example: There is a man in the USA looking to redesign his site. He
says he has lots of visitors but no sales. He sells those emergency packs that
if you are stranded you can survive for a week. Imagine two possible men, polar
opposites, who may be buying from his website.
The first man is a real man's man - ready for all occasions. A 'James Bond' character
who is the hero in any situation. Disaster strikes and you are glad he's there.
He is a hiker who is always prepared and full of health and vitality.
The second man is a fearful man - imagining the worst, neurotic, worried about
WW3, nuclear attack, tsunamis and has a bunker under his house (just in case).
The current site sells to the second man and ignores the first. No-one wants to
feel like a neurotic - not even the neurotic.
He needs to sell the feeling of 'the well prepared hero' - not the 'fearful neurotic'.
He thinks he is selling packs but he is selling a feeling.
Web design is less about web design, and more about the content or the product
that is being sold on the website. The design is important in many ways - it should
be pleasant, creative, clear with easily understandable navigation, but it must
not get in the way of the content. When your visitors contact you let it be to
buy your product, and not ask for your web designers name. Don't let overwhelming
design hide your product.
A common misconception I have come across, both in pupils and in working with
designers, is that the potential buyer is perfect in every way. Many times I have
pointed out that some site has something too new for most people to see, and I
keep getting the answer - "We cater for the high-end user." The truth
is that many people with a lot of money are not computer fanatics and don't keep
up with the latest technology.
They have other interests and use their computer now and then to surf and spend.
Technology often works backwards. The wealthy are the first to buy, and as time
passes the computers get bigger, faster and cheaper. In actual fact the typical
'high-end user' is the web designer.
Besides the computers, the potential buyer may have other faults. Many are not
that knowledgeable about the Internet and if you overwhelm them with the latest
technology and a confusing layout - you will lose them.
Your potential buyer may have lots to spend but be on an outdated computer, confused
by too much on a page, and maybe not terribly clever. You can't afford to lose
them. Rather than use the 'cutting edge technology (one web design site had the
slogan "We specialise in technology that hasn't been invented yet")
- go for a little bluntness and you will catch more buyers.
A few years ago they did an experiment in the USA where they got 100 random, working
people, and put them in a room, each in front of a computer, and gave them each
$500. It was in a credit card and they could spend online, and keep what the bought.
All were excited. At the end of the afternoon 90% had not managed to buy anything,
and shopping carts were left unpaid for. It was a shock to the Internet world,
but the important thing to learn is to keep things clear and simple.
The mistake of thinking of your website as an advertisement rather than a store.
When you advertise in a magazine you are in competition with all the other adverts.
You have to be loud and bold to be noticed.
When you have a store you have to have a pleasant atmosphere and make it a pleasing
place for people to visit. They are in your store so you don't have to scream
at them to attract their attention. It is better to be polite, calm and helpful.
A website is more like a store. Your visitor has arrived so there is no need for
spinning graphics, scrolling text and overwhelming content. He is there and your
main purpose now is to not scare him away. It should now become a pleasant experience.
It is so easy for either the client or the web designer to get so used to their
computer, then feel it is the average sort of computer. At Lynden web design studio
we keep our setting to the average, and keep up with global statistics. With computers
there are so many variables. The brightness of the monitor is a small one. Every
now and then, off we go to a couple of Internet cafes and have a look at our sites
on all their computers. They are slightly different on every one. We should try
and design to the average so if you are a client with some unusual resolution
or setting it is more important that your websites look best on most computers
rather than to design it especially for one unusual computer.