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Website Workout: The Elements of Style

– Posted in: Design

Button with wwwWe are continuing our Website Workout, designed to get your website into tip top shape. In the first segment, I had you consider the primary and secondary purposes for your website. Before we begin to look at individual areas of your website, we have some site-wide things to examine.

Keeping your purposes in mind, take as an objective look as possible at your website, and ask if your design conveys the primary purpose.

For example, if your site is a business website, first ask, “Does is this site very clearly a business site?” You’d be surprised if you dropped by someone’s home and received a sales pitch. You want people to understand what to expect from your website. If your site promotes a business, sells a product, or markets a service, make sure that comes across clearly in the overall look of your site.

Look at the site style. Does it match your purpose and does it have the right personality? If you are a business selling the latest fashions, an outrageous color scheme might convey the right tone, but if you are CPA, you need something more conservative and serious-looking. Wild graphics are the perfect look for some purposes, and a completely wrong fit for others.

Does your site have a tag line, a brief description that displays in the browser and gets saved with the URL when you bookmark a site or make it a favorite? Make sure it does, and that the line is brief (ten words or less) and clearly conveys what the site is about. Amazon’s, for example, says, “Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs, & More.” Try to give the primary benefit of the service or business behind the site. Rather than saying, “The Best Website Design Service,” for example, you could say, “Improving your bottom line through top website design.”

Is your menu easy to find, with clear selections and distinct navigation? Are there any pages that are hard to locate? If some items don’t belong in your main menu (terms of service, for example), are they still available on a footer or other menu?

How about your sidebars? Are they cluttered with links, ads, and images? Not only is clutter unattractive, it makes the features hard to find and use.

If your site has a different look for some areas, visit all the main areas and review these same issues. It does no good to have a sleek home page if your inside pages are chaos.

If you can, have some friends of yours look at your website, asking these same questions.

Don’t make any changes yet. Whether you do them yourself, assign them to your team, or use a designer, you don’t want to do the work more than once, and we have many more things to look at. Take notes about anything you find that needs to be modified, and check back here Friday for the next workout.

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