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Website design: It's more than just a pretty interface

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Written by Kevin Plankey
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Not too long ago, your only real website requirement was making it look nice. All you had to do was slap on a coat of pretty makeup, and your cutomers would be satisfied.

 

My, my, how quickly things change. 

 

While appearance is still a vital component of website design, it's far from the only one. Customers expect your site to:

 

- Be interactive

- Engage them

- Make everything easy to find

 

And that's only the Cliff's Notes version of the story. If you're on a budget, this might seem like a tall task, but you need to find a way. Here are three tips on how you can accomplish this without breaking the bank:

 

Tip 1: Make it extremely easy for customers to find things

Just because someone visits your website, it doesn't mean he or she is determined to buy something from you. 

 

A recent survey revealed that if online shoppers can't find what they're looking for on your site, they expect help within five minutes. Otherwise, they have no problem searching elsewhere. 

 

So you don't have a lot of time to catch customers' attention, so what should you do? You know that phrase "highlight your attributes"? Do that with your website. Make the most important features - products, product specifications, pricing, listings, contact information and payment methods, for instance - impossible for people to miss. Use some form of analytics tool and do some customer research if you need to determine what the most commonly looked for components are within your business and industry.

 

Tip 2: Make your site interactive

Have you ever read an article, review or anything of the sort, and by the time you were finished reading, you just had to comment on it? Maybe the article resonated with a past experience, or maybe it completely struck a chord - either way, you were so moved by it that you simply had to leave your two cents.

 

A lot of websites still require that users create an account in order to leave a comment, but a lot of people are too impatient to do this. Therefore, you should make it extremely easy for them to leave the message they so desire.

 

One way to make it very easy is by allowing them to sign in using their social networking credentials - after all, approximately 90 percent of Americans are on social media. So what matters is making sure it's not a 10-step process that will turn away customers.

 

One other tool to think about is integrating proactive chat into your wesite. Proactive chat allows you to approach the customer based upon several different variables, including the amount of time they have been on one of your website pages.

 

Tip 3: Find ways to engage your customers

With the help of new technologies, you can do this easier than ever. 

 

Post pictures and video to your websites, have a question of the day, and request feedback on what visitors' favorite and least favorite products are. Do something that will make them feel like they have a voice within your company.

 

Remember, your customers are less patient now than they've ever been, so you'll have to find ways to engage them while still making things as easy as possible.