Month: March 2014

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Website Navigation
Technology is just advancing at an amazing speed, isn’t it? The way that we search for things and the websites that we use. In the old days, navigation was just a little strip of pretty colored buttons running down the page. Those days are pretty much gone. . . or are they? Very often those simple navigations that we had ten or fifteen years ago were superior to website navigation today. The reality is that they were simple and it was easy to find what we came for.

Have you ever been to a website that was simply annoying to navigate and it felt like you couldn’t find what you wanted if you stayed a hundred years? Those are the kinds of sites that you simply leave– sometimes leaving a little webmaster feedback on the way out–and you don’t visit them again do you?

Statistics tell us that we have about a minute to offer up the information that our reader came to find before they become impatient and leave our site, very often to not return at all. Website navigation problems are the number one reason why visitors leave sites and find another, easier to use site. That means that you want to get it right the first time.

Web design navigation has some common problems that are seen frequently in older sites and in some brand new ones. The most common problems that are seen are:

Circuitous navigation that doesn’t take you anywhere. One page links to another to another, and the navigation on every page is different. This is frustrating to the user and hard to find what you came for. Once you do find it, you can’t find your way back to the first page.

Navigation that is hidden or hard to find–we’ve all seen this. About a third of the website buttons on the top bar and the remainder buried at the foot of the text on the front page or a content page because someone told them that would make people go deeper into the site. The reality is that sometimes it does. Usually it just annoys them because what they are seeking is not readily apparent. One very popular website company actually recommends this method.

Avoiding those problems means planning ahead. Determining what information you will house and how you will set it up logically to give people a good chance to see it quickly.

Set up the navigation when you build the site. Ideally you will be able to do that but if you can’t, fix what you have or rebuild the site to make it easier for people to find what they want. Website navigation is the be all and end all today.It’s a reason why search engines rank you well and people come back again and again. If you’re not getting the traffic that you want from your website or your bounce rate is inordinately high, ask yourself why.

The search engines today–and your readers– are all about a good experience. They want to find it quickly and read it in bite sized pieces. Hiding the navigation is a problem for both you and the website visitor because it is frustrating to you and that means that you lose customers.

It means that your readers and your prospective customers can find the information that they want easily or the products that they want to buy readily. If that isn’t the case in your website, it’s time for a change.

 

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New Website Design: Moving On from Your Old Website

You invested your heart and soul into your old website, but it just doesn’t load as fast as it used to. You still have the vision that inspired the site in your mind, but it takes more searching to see that vision when you look at what your site has morphed into through the months or years. Visitors aren’t responding to the site as well as they once did, and you know that it is time to take action.

When the analytics for your site start to look far less impressive than you are willing to tolerate, you have two options. You can embrace the need for change and breathe new life into your site’s design, or you can abandon the site entirely and watch it decline into nothing of value. You have invested far too much time to let it go completely, which leaves you with the first option: revive the site through change.

A thorough analysis of your old website will help you decide what type of change you need. Here is a quick checklist to help you complete this analysis:

  • Identify features that are used most often by visitors and which hold visitors on the page longest.
  • Identify features that are no longer used or are quickly abandoned by users.
  • List all complaints that you have received from visitors.
  • Test your navigation system to make sure it is still efficient.
  • Identify outdated or irrelevant content that needs rewritten or eliminated.
  • Have friends or family members give you their opinion on your overall site design.

In most cases, you will find that a completely new site design is needed to bring the site back to life. You can work with a professional designer to tackle this project, which often turns into a balancing act. While you need to maintain the essence of the site so that your loyal followers do not lose the features they find useful, you also need to upgrade to something more eye-catching and appealing to a larger audience.

Decide What Features to Keep

Make a short list of the features or design elements that you know should remain on your new website design. This will help you feel better about moving on from your old website, since you get to keep the elements that make the site unique.

Any features or pages of content that your regular site visitors use frequently should make it onto this list. You may end up redesigning some elements of these features, but you know that they must remain on the site to appease your regular followers. You may also want to keep evergreen content that gets a lot of attention from search engines and human visitors. You may also identify pages that are struggling but which might thrive if you give them a makeover with fresher content and better SEO strategies.

The Excitement of Going Live

It can take several months, to completely overhaul your website design into something more appealing to today’s viewers. Get in touch with your market and view competing websites so that you see where your new website design can one-up your competitors.

When it is time to take your new website live, prepare for a period of analysis. Make sure to analyze the elements of your old website that were not working to ensure that they do work with the new website design.

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