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STARTicles offer you tactical information and insights on how to lay the foundation of your business so you can focus on building success.

Elements of an Effective Website

As Jen talked about a few weeks ago, if you’re a business you NEED a website. Whether you use a web designer or a website builder, the reasons for having your own website are numerous. But, as you’re building your site, what kinds of features should you focus on? Read below to learn what key elements make your website effective.

Clean and Professional Look

Your website should look as clean and professional as possible. So don’t use any fancy fonts that may not be available on most computers. Try to keep to common and professional web fonts, such as Arial, Veranda or Times New Roman.

In addition to not using funky fonts, using every color in a 64 Crayola pack will also look tacky. Your colors should complement each other, not clash. If you’re color blind or just need help picking coordinating colors, use a website like Colour Lovers which has user generated color schemes posted. Don’t use more than three to five colors.

Clear Navigation

Once a visitor is on your site you need them to explore different pages of your site. To do this you must have clear navigation. Make sure all your important links are at prominent places. Make use of menus on the right and the left sides of the page. Make sure all your information is accessible from other parts of the site by including links. Your navigation should be easy to maneuver and have clear buttons.

Your readers shouldn’t spend 30-40 seconds trying to find a Contact or About page. They also shouldn’t have to click through multiple pages just to get to a sign up form. Get the important things out in the open. Users shouldn’t have to use your Search box to find important things.

Structure

In order to make your site clean with clear navigation, your site should be as structured as possible. We hate when we visit sites and they have a bunch of free-floating boxes of information that isn’t easy to maneuver. Use grids and boxes. There is nothing boring about symmetry, structure, and ease.

Simplicity

Don’t over-complicate things. Make things as easy as possible for your readers by pretending a 4 year-old will be viewing it.

Designed for All Resolutions

A site that is easy to use always encourages visitors to stay and read your content. If your site doesn’t look good for a particular resolution, it is very likely that the visitor will close the browser window. You should design your website so that it looks good for all resolutions. The best way to do this is to design your site in terms of percentage and not pixels. Designing stretch layouts that fit any screen resolution ensures that you know all your visitors see a good looking site.

Minimal Use of Images

Don’t clutter your site with big, bulky images that take ages to load, unless you are a retail store that needs photos to sell your products—and even then, make sure these don’t take forever to load. Use catchy icons instead. Visitors are more drawn to your site for its content rather than its design. You want that to take center stage—not a giant image.

Fantastic Copywriting

What you say on your site is often more important than a fancy design. Choosing the right words for sign up buttons, page headings, navigation items and calls to action can help you keep visitors on your site—and buying your products.

Working Links

Always check for broken links within a site before uploading it to your web server.

Cross Browser Compatibility

Make sure you check your site for Internet Explorer 5+, Mozilla Firefox 1+, Opera 7+, Safari 3+ and Netscape Navigator 6+ as they constitute 95% of browsers users use. You don’t want people abandoning your site because they can’t see your homepage.

Now that you’re ready to build your business’s website, learn more about website builders and promoting your site. And after you’re done building your site, you’ll need some help picking out a handy email marketing service provider to alert your current and prospective clients about upcoming promotions or news.

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