If you choose to develop your own site, or even if you are planning to hire a web designer, here is a web site design checklist you can use to evaluate your options.
Your logo is not just a pretty image. It is a chance to leave a lasting branded impression of your business. Having a quality logo is critical to branding and site recognition.
A banner adds a graphical or even textual element in which you can emphasize the purpose or merely the name of your website.
3. Title tag of each Web Page
Each page title should be unique and keyword rich so that the search engines can quickly understand and classify the content of the current page.
4. Categories and content
Divide your content into a few categories or subcategories. Have general sections that lead to subcategories if necessary.
5. Navigation Menu
Have a clearly defined navigation menu on each page that allows a user to get to any major section on your website.
6. Links to other sites
Have a links page to other relevant sites. Exchange links with other people in your industry. This is great for SEO purposes.
7. Link to us
Explain to your visitors that you are ready to exchange links with them if they want to. Have banners or images ready with linking codes that people can copy and paste to their website.
8. Contact information
If you’re not afraid of giving away personal information, put your phone number, email address or a link to a contact form at the bottom of each page.
9. Copyright message
The text of the copyright not only puts the visitor on notice that your content is owned by you and unique but it is another chance to attract search engines by putting keyword rich terms into the copyright.
10. Date last edited
This element will tell your visitor that your site doesn’t contain stale pages.
11. Lack of Web Page Content
Make sure you offer help or information. If people have questions, put up answers to frequently asked questions and make sure you answer them, or your competitors will.
12. Under construction pages
If your content is not ready then don’t put it online. People don’t bookmark unfinished pages to come back later… they just leave your site and don’t return.
13. Inconsistent layout
Maintain visual consistency to make your visitors comfortable throughout their visit.
14. Spelling and html mistakes
If your website does not look professional, and contains spelling, grammar
or html mistakes, people will extrapolate and conclude that you are sloppy with your business.
Search engines don’t index frames well. Don’t use them except, perhaps, for inside content areas that you don’t want found in the search engines.
16. Long Download Time
If you think they will wait.. they won’t!
17. Dead Links
Poor navigation, and complicated ordering instructions all drive traffic away from a site
18. Internet Explorer / FireFox / Safari / Chrome / AOL / Compatibility
Not all html and css code is compatible with all browsers. You will want your website to load properly in all the main web browsers. What you need to do is to load the different browsers on your desktop and run them to see how your site displays. One other alternative is to use a couple of web sites that will take your URL and show you alternative views of your site inside the different browsers. If you use html validation tools, do not rely on them to verify your website’s appearance. You need to eyeball your site in each browser to see what the customers will see.
19. Windows vs Mac Compatibility
You will also want to make sure your web site works properly on both Mac and PC platforms. It is highly suggested to use browser safe colors, not a windows safe palette (many colors may not display properly on a Mac). The text/font output on a Mac is smaller than on a PC so that is another obstacle to avoid (a size 12(pixel) font, on a Mac, will look much smaller on a MAC than on a PC. Visitors to your site will most likely not know how to adjust the font sizes in their browsers. If you are designing on a Mac, don’t make your fonts too large or they will end up looking even larger on a PC.
20. Screen Resolution
Ensure that your web site displays properly across any screen resolution so it will fit onto any monitor size. There is nothing quite so disturbing as a web site with a background that is choppy and text that is not aligned properly on a large monitor. You can check your website by changing the resolution of your monitor, using your desktop settings properties.
21. Font Styles
Since people have different fonts installed on their computer it is recommended that when you design your site you stick to universal fonts like Arial, Verdana or Times New Roman. If you specify a font style that the viewer does not have installed on their system, the viewer will see a “default” font that looks much like a typewriter font which could be courier or times.
22. Web Colors
When building your website, be sure to use background and font colors selected from the browser safe palette. Web site design studies indicate that certain colors cause a strain on your retina and this produces what is called a rapid exit from your site (ie. people leave a web site faster). Be careful with your web colors. The easiest color combinations are black or dark text on a white or light background.
23. Site Navigation
Web page copywriting should inspire action; to click, or subscribe, or join, or buy. Just putting text on a page is not going to produce a sale. If you can handle the metaphor it helps to think of this as the flasher versus stripper modality. A flasher is like a web page without sex appeal. You have all the content there but it isn’t very exciting. With a stripper you get the visitor motivated to do something. This is why a clever mix of content and images produces higher conversions.
25. Conversion & Site Goals
When you embark on a web site design project you have to start with a few essential groundrules type of questions.
26. Target Audience
Who is your intended audience? Try to isolate the target demographic as much as possible, so that you know what type of flavor of web site you will need to appeal to the most specific intended audience. If your web site designer does not have a lot of experience with marketing, conversion, usability and compatibility issues, then you run the risk of ending up with a website that looks great, at least to you, but doesn’t do much to help your bottom line. No one plans to build a new online business that fails, but if you don’t strategize properly and take into account many dynamic factors you could be facing an outcome you did not expect. Here’s what you need to know:
27. Competitive Analysis
Check out the competition. In order to know what to sell to your audience it helps to see how your competitors are positioning their web sites. First of all you get a sense of what the visitors expectations will be. Secondly, if you want your site to perform then you can learn from your competition what to do right and what to avoid. What does the competition have to offer? What are they doing wrong? How can your site do it better? In what ways will your site have be more competitive and give you an edge?
28. Web Site Content
It’s important to consider the flow of data within your web site. If you are building a site loaded with tons of content (ie. lots of pages) then you have to chunk up your site – divide the long streams of data into what are called bite-sized chunks or sections that will become categories (or “main links” within your site). Then you can create like an online filing cabinet of content.
29. The Web vs. Traditional Media
The web is very different from television, radio, and print marketing. Understanding the types of marketing that only the Internet can offer will result in greater response and profit than using any one offline method alone. A few web marketers now get the idea that your web site layout and graphics can also affect your revenues and response rates.
30. Technical Considerations
What type of web site management platform are you running? Does it have web based adminstration so you can change your web page content easily? Does it have a mailing list database with a subscription based newsletter system with automatic unsubscribe functionality?
Make sure to optimize your images so they are compressed to a minimum file size so that they enjoy a quick loading. Images on your website should be under 10kb. A good image optimization program can reduce the size of most images to acceptable size. Extremely large images can be sliced into multiple pieces which also helps. Remember to specify height and width attributes in your images because this will allow your images to load much more quickly and efficiently because they let the browser how much space to leave for each image. For search engine optimization purposes, make sure to specify a name for the image in the “alt” tag. This provides a description for search engines indexing your site.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.