11 Web Site Design Tips to Keep Your Visitors Coming Back

Dec 1 22:00 2001 Joe Gracia Print This Article

1. KEEP IT ... Java and ... ... may look neat, ... increase your ... results. More often thannot, they will distract your visitors from ... message, or even


While Java and Shockwave animations may look neat,Guest Posting they
rarely increase your marketing results. More often than
not, they will distract your visitors from your
marketing message, or even crash your visitors'

Many of your visitors won't have the necessary plug-ins
needed to view these animations.

Perhaps in a few years Internet technology will make the
use of these animation techniques more accessible to
your visitors. Until then, you are much better off
keeping your Web site simple and focusing on your
marketing strategy and your content.


If content is king, then easy reading is queen. If
trying to read the information on your Web site is
difficult in any way, the majority of your visitors will
leave and not come back.

Don't put your words on dark or black backgrounds--the
Star Wars effect. It's very difficult to read.

Don't put your words on patterned backgrounds, even if
the pattern is very simple. Anything behind your words
will be distracting and make your copy difficult to

Use black or very dark text on plain white backgrounds
for the bulk of your text on your Web site. People are
used to reading black type on white paper.

Don't use fancy fonts. Many of your visitors have
limited or different fonts on their computers. Their
computer will then simply replace your fancy font with
something totally different. You'll never know what your
visitors are seeing with the substitute fonts.

Use Times Roman, Helvetica or Arial for your fonts
because these fonts are available on everyone's
computer. By sticking to these basic fonts you will be
safe in assuming that your visitors are seeing what you

Use ALL CAPS very sparingly. It's okay to use all caps
for a short headline or subhead here and there, but
don't overdo it. ALL CAPS is like yelling or DECLARING
WAR!! You especially don't want to set an entire
paragraph in all caps or you will definitely repel your

Create a consistent format for your fonts. Use one font
and size for your major page titles, one for your
subheads, and one for the body text of your articles.

Create standard and consistent links. Links should be
blue and underlined whenever possible. Be careful not to
underline other phrases that are not links, because your
visitors will think they are links and get very
frustrated clicking on them.

Keep it simple. Keep it consistent.


Pick up your local newspaper or a national magazine and
look at the articles printed in them. Notice how narrow
the columns are. They are designed like that for a

Narrow copy is much easier for people to read than long
lines. For one, people can absorb a very short line of
copy much more easily than a long one that they must
break down mentally into smaller segments.

Plus, when your copy lines are long, people often have a
more difficult time finding the beginning of the next

If you keep your copy lines short, no more than 85
characters, you will make it much easier for your
visitors to read your articles.

Long lines repel. Short lines attract.


Nothing is more repellant to a Web surfer than a solid
block of text that is 20-40 lines long. Ugh! It's like
reading a legal document.

If you want your readers to keep reading your copy, then
you have to make it as easy and as inviting as possible
for them.

Keep your lines short, and keep your paragraphs to 5-6
lines each. The shorter, the better.


You can also make your copy more appealing to your
visitors, by breaking up your paragraphs with bold sub-
heads that describe the next section. It relieves the
monotony, plus it helps them to understand what is
coming up next.

You can also use bulleted lists to make it easy to see
listed points.


Your visitors aren't going to wait forever for your neat
animation or graphics to load. Keep your graphics small
and use them sparingly. The faster your Web page loads
the fewer visitors you will lose. You want to keep your
loading time under 20 seconds. Focus on content not


Too many Web site owners mistakenly believe that
everyone surfing the Web is an Internet expert. They are
not. They don't know much about navigation, or Java, or
forms, etc.

If you want someone to click on a link, then make it
look like a standard link by making the font blue and

Even then you may have to actually tell your visitors to
Click Here. It may seem redundant, but we have found by
testing that more people will click if you tell them
specifically what you want them to do.


It's a big pet peeve of ours and we know that many Web
site visitors hate it too. We're talking about creating
your Web pages wider than 600 pixels.

A Web page that is designed wider than 600 pixels may
look great on YOUR computer, but there's a good chance
that your visitors have to scroll their screens left and
right to see your pages. If they do, most will leave.

Keep in mind, also, that many people surf the web with
their windows minimized, which means that they will see
even less of your pages.

By designing your pages specifically for a 600 pixel
width, you will overcome 90% of this problem, and your
visitors will have no reason to leave because of
frustrating scrolling back and forth.


You may have a super, high resolution computer where
1024 resolution or higher looks great. You may also have
perfect vision and have no problem reading the teeny,
tiny type that higher resolutions produce, but many of
your visitors won't have their monitors set to the
higher resolution, and many can't or won't try to read
tiny type on Web sites.

Most people at this point have their monitors set to 800
resolution. You can't get them to change their monitor
settings to accommodate your particular Web pages by
saying, "This site is best viewed at 1024 resolution.
Please reset your monitor for that resolution." No one
is going to do that for you. They will just leave your

You want to create your Web site so that it will be
easily read by the majority of your visitors. In the
future this may change, but for now the majority says
800 resolution.


It's important that your Web site visitors feel
comfortable navigating throughout your Web site.

Think about a book. Imagine if there were no table of
contents, no chapters, no division by subject matter,
just a hodgepodge of paragraphs and pages. Not many
people would go through the frustration and trouble to
read it.

Most books are broken down into logical sections or
chapters so that the readers can find what they are
looking for quickly and easily.

Your Web site should be organized the same way.

Break down your information into logical sections or

We have a department for articles, one for tutorials,
one for motivation quotations and stories, one for
checklists, one for our store, etc.

Once you click on one of our department links, you will
go to an index page for that department.

Plus, we put all of the links to our departments on
every page of our Web site, so that our visitors can get
to any other department with one click of the mouse.

If possible, put a Site Map page on your Web site. This
page will show your visitors all of your departments and
all of the pages within each department all on one page.
It can be formatted as a simple outline.

Make it easy for your visitors to find what they want on
your Web site and they will stay longer and come back
more often.


It's important for you to establish a simple and
consistent format for the pages of your Web site.

Nothing looks more unprofessional than a mish mash of
different looking pages on a Web site. Don't use a two
column format on some of your pages and a three or four
column format on others. Create a consistent format for
your pages and then stick to it.

You should use a consistent layout for your pages. If
you want to put your links to your other pages in a left
or right hand column, then do that for all of your
pages. If you want to put a title at the top of each
page, then select a font, color and size for those
titles and use them for all of your pages.

While variety may be the spice of life, consistency is
the glue that holds your Web site together. Use variety
in your content and your ideas, but inconsistency in
formats destroys trust and comfort in your visitors.

Pick up a few books and look at how the chapters are
laid out. You will find a logical, and consistent
layout, fonts, graphics etc. throughout most
professional books.

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Joe Gracia
Joe Gracia

Joe Gracia - Give to Get Marketing

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