Make a Good First Impression With Clean Website Design

Your homepage operates similarly to a storefront. It's the very first thing your potential followers come across when they search for you, and first impressions are meaningful. So, how would you handle your guests - possible lifeblood patrons - that may be interested in your work? Would your 'storefront' be very easy or difficult to come by? Are the address and signage clear? Are the mission and contact information plainly posted, or not? Think about the front door. Do people have to go through four knobs and ten locks prior to arriving at the wares? How is the interior? Is it a messy fire hazard, or is it quick to find your way around? Is there loud music blaring? Are the furniture and fixtures faulty? Is it old and dusty? Does it appear as a work-in-progress rather than a place of business? You get the picture.

Happily, an individual needn't struggle more to make a good website.  Rather, much less.  Contrary to the concerns of most beginners and the faulty guidance of some designers, your website doesn't have to be complex - at all. The truth is, at the beginning it's lots better if it isn't. Certainly if you lack several hundred dollars for a highly recommended and skilled designer. Sticking to the tenets of Presentation Zen, one should employ control when considering the look and interface of a website. Because you can easily do something, doesn't mean you ought to. Often, people are taken over by all the exciting possibilities as well as the desire to appear "professional." In reality, many end up with awful results, a confusion resembling a mix between a sidewalk sale and a disco-themed college dorm room.


Yahoo vs. Google
Be sure viewers know swiftly where to go to find the Who, What, Where, When, Why of your work, and How they can get involved.  To better underscore this notion, pay attention to the obvious contrast between Yahoo's search page and Google's. And if for some reason your particular tastes lead you to prefer Yahoo's, remember which of these companies is triumphing in growth and innovation.

Myspace vs. Facebook
Furthermore, consider the homepages of social networks, Myspace and Facebook. The former is an all-out optical attack with a barrage of links, images, and ads.  And the latter, very simple and easy to understand. Again, consider which resonates better and with far more people.  And is consequently, trailblazing.

DOs and DON'Ts
Here are some fundamental rules to aid you as you start building and/or make updates to your website.

- DON'T hide key facts more than two clicks deep. Users would rather go away than interpret complicated site navigation.
- DON'T have a "splash page". It's just an additional pointless obstacle between you and your visitor.
- DON'T have an animated intro. They take too much time to load and are never worth the wait - ever.
- DON'T feature any auto-play music. It's startling and kind of inconsiderate (imagine someone who has several windows open at work, trying to pinpoint which obnoxious page is producing that noise). 

- DO keep it simple and quick to walk through. Include fewer tabs in your navigation bar, concentrating specifically on contact information, "about‚" section, portfolio, offerings and testimonials.
- DO include time-sensitive content like functions and special promotions on the homepage, immediately visible, or "above the fold." Include critical links for more info and purchasing.
- DO maintain your pages and links. Damaged links, incomplete or vacant pages, and significantly out-of-date information all imply sub-standard customer service.
- DO secure the expertise of a writer to assist you with the key text for your site. A simple approach to assembling your website allows your work to be certainly highlighted by potent wording.

ADDITIONAL TIP:  You may also grade your website on its inner-workings by visiting WebSiteGrader. You'll be given a ranking plus a lot of free useful tips (The email field on the site is optional, by the way).  It's kind of awesome.

Best wishes streamlining your site for success! Don't forget, in the case of design - and a lot of things really - it's better to be simple and effective than showy and inept.  Ditch the bells and whistles and focus on content in order to make your website work.