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User Friendly WordPress Sites

WordPress User Guide

Your online competitors are only a mouse-click away so keep your website simple to use and your prospective customers are more likely to stay around and ‘buy’ your wares. People expect a web site to be useful, fast, reliable and user-friendly. Gimmicks distract them from their goals! Distraction is commercial suicide.

We all know the Internet has empowered customers to shop around. It’s very easy to compare prices and products now. So if you make their web experience difficult, then you’re off their list with just one click. So take a leaf out of Ronseal’s philosophy – ‘It does what it says on the tin’.

It’s amazing the very people (bosses) who pay for and approve the millions of naff, bloated, over-indulged websites are the same business men who wonder why their sites attract no sales – It’s not for them to use, it’s for the customer right? Doh! You must think CUSTOMER online as much as you do off-line.

Believe me, it is a fact that over-use of flash animation, long downloads, bloated imagery, ‘dynamic’ gizmos and too many adverts on websites are PROVEN TO BE A BARRIER to your site visitors – the very people you WANT TO ATTRACT! You wouldn’t make it difficult for customers to walk into your shop… so why do it with your web site?

Wherever possible Keep it Simple Stupid! Keeping it simple means having a fast loading website and easy to use, consistent menus. It needs to be obvious with-in a few seconds what the visitor needs to do/click to find what they want. So don’t add heavy imagery or too much animation. Have just one or two central messages or an offer that you want to ‘push’. Your page Titles, subtitles and link text should be obvious. Avoid ‘Click Here’ – much better to say ‘Find out about our new [product xyz]‘.

Make sure your website has a font/text of a good size and is readable . A good contrast of background and text colours is essential these days. Have short paragraphs with keyword sub-titles so people can skim-read the page.

Your home page is you’re online shop window – yep, make it attractive but make it happen quick and uncluttered. Your visitors have a low attention span (just a few seconds actually) and there finger is on the trigger to fire up a new website if yours takes too long. Ok so broadband is here – BUT still the world has millions of users of slow dial-up connections. So all those cool Flash websites look great over broadband but never see the light of day over dial-up. So you just lost a potential customer if your site is slow to load.

Use your Hit Counter/Visitor Stats. If you have a ‘hit counter’ installed on your site check the stats for ‘bounces’ which occur when a visitor hits your website but immediately exits the site. Too many of these and it’s telling you there’s something wrong! Check how long your visitors stay on your site for – it may surprise you that it’s only a few seconds.

Ensure your web designer builds you an error-free and W3C validated website. This goes along way to helping your website visitors, it also helps your search listings and your website is more likely to be user-friendly. Test the site with as many real people as possible and adjust the site on their feedback.

Avoid web designers who get carried away trying to out ‘cool’ their peers with the latest gismos. They are guilty of online treason. If the gizmo is necessary (and I doubt it) ask yourself if the gizmo masks the message… if it does ditch the gizmo.

It is the website designer’s job to ensure a website is build correctly to attract visitors and to ensure when the visitor gets there they can easily find what they came for. Seems simple and obvious to me

So to summarise: if you want the latest bells and whistles website then you may as well put up the close sign. Keep it simple and think about your customer’s needs and varying abilities. If they can use your site without really thinking they’ll be more inclined to concentrate on their goals and your site is more likely to be used and enjoy increased sales or enquiries. So K.I.S.S. all the way to the bank!

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