Does Website Design Impact The Bottom Line?


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Companies invest thousands of dollars when they want to redesign their website, hoping that a more attractive design will lead to more revenue. But does it really matter? Is simplicity more important than eloquent design? Where do you draw the line between simplicity and overkill? What really matters to users? While the ‘wow factor’ may leave a positive impression on investors, banks and even prospects, does it lead to more sales?

A minimalist site design like Wimp gets 4 million unique visitors a month and at its peak this past year reached 8 million uniques a month.

So is simplicity the key? Or does a crowded website with lots of information on each page work the best?

According to studies cited by usability.gov, having a credible looking website scored a 4 out of 5 on the relative importance scale. While it’s difficult to know for sure if good design means more revenue, we do know a few key design principles to keep in mind when designing a site.

In this post I’ll explore professional research that can potentially offer insights into what priorities a business should have on its web design. I’ll be addressing the common questions that many website owners have and attempt to offer tangible solutions.

What Can I Do To Improve My Websites Credibility?

Research shows that a credible website is key. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your websites credibility, as taken from usability.gov.

  • Provide a useful set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers;
  • Ensure the Web site is arranged in a logical way;
  • Provide articles containing citations and references;
  • Show author’s credentials;
  • Ensure the site looks professionally designed;
  • Provide an archive of past content (where appropriate);
  • Ensure the site is as up-to-date as possible;
  • Provide links to outside sources and materials; and
  • Ensure the site is frequently linked to by other credible sites.

How Important Is An Uncluttered Website?

Having an uncluttered design is crucial if you want to make your website appear professional. Making it clean does appear to be an important characteristic for websites. Furthermore, it’s important to be consistent with where you keep your important items. Users who know where certain items are on your page(s) will be better able to use your website, thus improving web usability. Make use of navigation tabs and keep them in the same location on every page. Having a consistent website is key.

Here’s an example of a crowded site with too much to look at:

I counted the links above the fold and there are 49 links available to click on. If you include the drop down menu links, there are 135 links total; and this is just above the fold. Factor in all the different colors on the site as well and you can see why it’s poor design.

Here’s what good design looks like:

Their users are given the choice of 15 links to click on the entire page. They feature beautiful images of their product in action, have a call-to-action and a clearly defined goal that they want. They want users to fill out those three forms and sign up. Under the fold, links are faded out until you move your mouse around them.

Ask yourself: which site looks more credible? Which one are you more likely to give your credit card to? While this is an extreme example, it illustrates the point that an uncluttered, clean design is important.

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Adsense: Why Bloggers Don’t Get It

You may post about commercial related subjects like your job, what you like to buy, or even your hobbies. However these posts are all about your life, they are no more commercially viable or attractive than say Aunt Millie’s Holiday Newsletter. Yes we all have an Aunt Millie in our family, every year she sends out a finely crafted newsletter in a coordinating envelope she ordered from paperdirect.com telling us all about her family. We learn how hard her husband works, how many activities her kids are in and how good they are at them. We also read the details of how her scrapbooking business hasn’t taken off yet, but she promises to spend more time on it right after New Years. So if you were a business owner would you want to advertise anywhere on Aunt Millie’s Newsletter? Then why would a business want to pay you top dollar to advertise on your blog? What’s that, you say your blog gets (insert a high number here) of readers per day, surely that has to be worth something? Well did you know Aunt Millie sends out over 800 copies of her holiday newsletter to 17 countries, on 4 continents? Now before you get all fired up about it, understand that I don’t have a problem with you having a personal blog or sharing it with the public. However your expectation that it has value outside of your family/friends/community, is a serious misconception.


Michael Gray

By Michael Gray | //wolf-howl.com

In doing the research for my series of Adsense articles, two common ideas kept getting repeated:

  • My Adsense ads are horrible, they only pay out (insert low dollar figure here)
  • My Adsense CTR is horrible, I only get a (insert extremely low CTR here)

To be fair these comments weren’t coming just from bloggers, but bloggers did make up an overwhelmingly large percentage. I think this stems from a misconception on the part of the bloggers that they are entitled to high payout and CTR. I’d like to spend a little time to share my feelings on this subject. In the early days a blog may just have been an online diary or journal, but like the days of the Nehru jackets, they are gone. What a blog is now is Chronologically Structured Content Management System, as opposed to the classic web hierarchical structured implementation. Let’s be clear, you can still use a blog as your online diary or journal, but nowdays it’s just as likely to be used as a commercial blog. Yes, I did just say commercial blog, and no the earth didn’t open under my feet and swallow me whole for saying it. Let’s take some time to look at a your typical blog. Leer más “Adsense: Why Bloggers Don’t Get It”

Giving users some credit | Users are Not Idiots

Websites are designed to be used by people of varying backgrounds, educations and technical levels. One of the challenges we face when designing for the Web is finding a way to create sites and applications that can be accessed by a widely disparate audience while avoiding the pitfall of sacrificing the quality of our work to cater to the dreaded ‘lowest common denominator.’
Users are Not Idiots

Even though it happens to me with some frequency, being told by a client that one of the requirements for their project is that it must be ‘idiot proof’ never fails to give me pause. The sentiment itself is offensive enough, but the concept also seems somewhat misguided to me. Do we really want to begin a project by assuming our site’s users are idiots?


//designinformer.com
By Jeremy Girard

Websites are designed to be used by people of varying backgrounds, educations and technical levels. One of the challenges we face when designing for the Web is finding a way to create sites and applications that can be accessed by a widely disparate audience while avoiding the pitfall of sacrificing the quality of our work to cater to the dreaded ‘lowest common denominator.’

Users are Not Idiots

Even though it happens to me with some frequency, being told by a client that one of the requirements for their project is that it must be ‘idiot proof’ never fails to give me pause. The sentiment itself is offensive enough, but the concept also seems somewhat misguided to me. Do we really want to begin a project by assuming our site’s users are idiots?

Websites for Dummies

Creating designs that are intuitive and easy to use is something we should continually strive for if we want our sites and applications to be visited and used by as many people as possible. Ultimately, making those sites easy, as well as enjoyable, to use is a critical part of helping them be successful and it starts by abandoning outdated opinions on what users can, and cannot, understand. It starts by giving our users some credit and realizing that they are not ‘idiots.’

When Best Practices Go Bad

Anyone who has designed for the Web for a period of time has amassed a bank of best practices and favored solutions that they use in their work. In and of itself, this is a good thing, but the ever-changing nature of the Internet means that we have to continually evaluate these best practices to ensure they are still relevant. As Web users’ proficiency and technical comfort levels grow, we must abandon solutions that no longer help visitors use our sites, but instead may actually start to hinder their experience.

As a communication medium, the Web may still be the ‘new kid on the block,’ but let’s face it – the Internet isn’t new anymore. Web users are more advanced today then they were even a few years ago. This is great news for those of us who work on the Web! It means that we can continually push our work forward, but it also means that we not only have to be willing to embrace change, but that we need to be proactive in identifying when that change is necessary.

User Testing is Not Always the Answer

User Testing

There is no question that user testing is an invaluable part of the web design process, but any user testing we do for a project has limitations. Oftentimes, those limitations are due to budgetary and time constraints. This being the case, we focus our tests on key aspects of our projects where user input will help shape our decisions and positively impact the success of our design.

Since we often can’t evaluate and test every aspect of our project, some decisions will inevitably be driven by our best practices and favored solutions. If those practices are up to date and relevant, this isn’t a problem, but if they are outdated – well, I’m sure you can follow the line of reasoning here. Leer más “Giving users some credit | Users are Not Idiots”

Getting Your Startup Website Ready, Pre-Launch

4. Blog

Never underestimate the importance of having a blog. A blog helps you establish domain expertise and it helps you with your SEO. But as I’ve argued before, a blog can really just help you think – and write- through the entrepreneurial process.
5. Create an “About Us” page

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of the “About Us” page on your startup’s website, arguing that “For most people who interact with your website, this may be the opportunity to really humanize your company. You don’t want to waste it.”
6. Feature your product

Enough about you. Talk about your product. Even if the tool you’re building isn’t ready for launch, even if you aren’t ready to list all its features, bells, whistles, or pricing tiers, even if there aren’t screenshots or walkthroughs – yet – you can can still give people some idea of why they want to pay attention.


ComingSoon_sept10.jpgEven if you’re not quite ready to show the public your product, you can still create a good website and a solid online presence for your startup. I want to sidestep the argument about whether or not it’s good to be “stealth” or not, and work with the assumption that if you’ve purchased the domain name, you’re going to put up some sort of website.

So here are a few of the things you should consider when building your startup’s site:

1. Have a nice “look”

You don’t have to commit to the whole graphical “look and feel” of your brand on day one, but you do want to to make moves in that direction. Even if your site starts as an announcement for “more information coming soon,” you can still have a visually striking site. Leer más “Getting Your Startup Website Ready, Pre-Launch”

Breaking the Rules: How to Effectively Break the “Rules” of Good Web Design

By Cameron Chapman

We’ve all seen articles devoted to the various web desing “rules” out there. In fact, they’ve probably been drilled into all of our heads ad nauseum. And for many, they serve as a comforting set of guidelines that make our lives easier, at least when it comes to design.

But what about those occasions when you have an idea that doesn’t quite fit in the rules? Or what if you’re just sick and tired of doing everything by the book and you want to challenge yourself creatively? Are the rules really set in stone?

The answer to that is of course not. For one thing, a lot of the rules are outdated. So while they might have been true at one time, they’re not anymore. The other thing is that there are almost always circumstances that demand that the rules be bent or broken entirely. And as designers, we need to learn to recognize those times.

Below are a bunch of commonly-accepted web design rules, along with the reasons you might want to break them, and how to do so effectively. We’ve also included examples for each and the one unbreakable rule.
Your Web Page Layout and Design Should be Consistent Throughout the Site

Consistency can help make your visitors feel at home on your site right away. This makes them more likely to look around and spend more time there. Comfort is a good thing. Most of the time.

But there are two problems with this rule. First, some designers interpret it to mean that every page should be virtually identical. They use the same basic template for every page on your site, regardless of the content present. This almost always results in a site that’s boring and no fun to look at.

The other problem is that different content often calls for different design treatment. Removing most of the consistency on your site can make for a much more interesting user experience. Note that I said “most” of the consistency, though. You’ll want to choose one or two anchor points to keep your visitor from feeling like they’re visiting a different site entirely every time they go to a different page. Consider keeping either a design element like your header or color scheme or something as simple as your logo the same on every page on your site.
Case in Point: Jason Santa Maria

Jason Santa Maria’s website uses a different page design for a large number of his articles. It’s refreshing and shows just how much thought he puts into the content he provides. At the same time, it’s worth clicking through to multiple posts just for the designs alone. Always a good thing if you’re looking for deep engagement from your visitors.

The unifying element that keeps you feeling like you’re on the same site is the top navigation.


By Cameron Chapman

We’ve all seen articles devoted to the various web desing “rules” out there. In fact, they’ve probably been drilled into all of our heads ad nauseum. And for many, they serve as a comforting set of guidelines that make our lives easier, at least when it comes to design.

But what about those occasions when you have an idea that doesn’t quite fit in the rules? Or what if you’re just sick and tired of doing everything by the book and you want to challenge yourself creatively? Are the rules really set in stone?

The answer to that is of course not. For one thing, a lot of the rules are outdated. So while they might have been true at one time, they’re not anymore. The other thing is that there are almost always circumstances that demand that the rules be bent or broken entirely. And as designers, we need to learn to recognize those times.

Below are a bunch of commonly-accepted web design rules, along with the reasons you might want to break them, and how to do so effectively. We’ve also included examples for each and the one unbreakable rule.

Your Web Page Layout and Design Should be Consistent Throughout the Site

Consistency can help make your visitors feel at home on your site right away. This makes them more likely to look around and spend more time there. Comfort is a good thing. Most of the time.

But there are two problems with this rule. First, some designers interpret it to mean that every page should be virtually identical. They use the same basic template for every page on your site, regardless of the content present. This almost always results in a site that’s boring and no fun to look at.

The other problem is that different content often calls for different design treatment. Removing most of the consistency on your site can make for a much more interesting user experience. Note that I said “most” of the consistency, though. You’ll want to choose one or two anchor points to keep your visitor from feeling like they’re visiting a different site entirely every time they go to a different page. Consider keeping either a design element like your header or color scheme or something as simple as your logo the same on every page on your site.

Case in Point: Jason Santa Maria

Jason Santa Maria’s website uses a different page design for a large number of his articles. It’s refreshing and shows just how much thought he puts into the content he provides. At the same time, it’s worth clicking through to multiple posts just for the designs alone. Always a good thing if you’re looking for deep engagement from your visitors.

The unifying element that keeps you feeling like you’re on the same site is the top navigation.

Jasonsantamariahome in Breaking the Rules: How to Effectively  Break the Rules of Good Web Design Leer más “Breaking the Rules: How to Effectively Break the “Rules” of Good Web Design”

The Fold: Correlation Between Attention And Scrolling


You fervently believe that your site has a ton of useful and helpful information for readers but do they know themselves? A conclusive study done by Jakob Nielsen concludes that web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold and only 20% of their attention below the fold, once they start scrolling down.

The further a user scrolls down, the lesser the attention is paid towards the content. For the uninitiated, the fold may refer to a slew of great things but in the context of web design, it means the line beyond which a user must scroll to see more contents of a page after the page displays within their browser; also known as a “scroll-line.”

It’s as if users arrive at a page with a certain amount of fuel in their tanks. As they “drive” down the page, they use up gas, and sooner or later they run dry. The amount of gas in the tank will vary, depending on each user’s inherent motivation and interest in each page’s specific topic.

Attention

The following chart shows the distribution of attention along stripes that were 100 pixels tall. The bars represents the total gaze time, rather than the number of fixations. Simply put, two fixations of 200 ms count the same as one fixation of 400 ms.

attention

Through the study, Nielsen found that users spent 80.3% of their time on web pages above the fold, and 19.7% below. This was carried out with the average screen resolution of 1,024 × 768 pixels. However, do take note that users with higher screen resolutions and bigger monitors wouldn’t change the result because it’ll just increase the attention spent above the fold due to an increment of information compared to the previous screen space. Leer más “The Fold: Correlation Between Attention And Scrolling”