What Makes a Website Effective?


Have you ever watched Alice in Wonderland? Remember the signs? Go Here. Go there. This way. That way. Up there. Down here. The sanest thing in that scene was the hookah-smoking caterpillar. Surrounded by a haze of smoke, he asks, "Whooooo are YOU?" Good question, caterpillar, especially on the Internet! After all, on the Internet, no one knows you're a dog! Nor does anyone know your age, gender - or your ethics, for that matter.

In a study by Consumer Web Watch, over 2,600 people were asked to rate the credibility of commercial websites. The two most important factors, to the consumers, when trying to decide if a site was credible were; "Design Look" (46.1%) & "Information Design" (28.5%).

Before:
Before
After:
after


The Internet has been dubbed "The Great Equalizer." It's true. With an effective website, it is virtually impossible to differentiate between a corporation and a home-based business. The operative word, of course, being "effective." On the Internet, you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. If your website fails to please your visitors, odds are, they'll leave - and they aren't coming back.

"Bye Bye" or "Buy, Buy" - What makes a website effective?

A successful website is designed for the customer, with the customer's needs in mind. The majority of websites on the Internet suffer from "Queen of Hearts" syndrome. Remember the Queen of Hearts hollering at Alice? "MY way," she bellered at the top of her lungs.
  • How many times have you seen a website that states "best viewed in Internet Explorer," "best viewed in Netscape Navigator," or "best viewed at 800x600?"

  • How many times have you seen a website that used "I," "me," "my" more often that "you" and "your?" Most business owners instinctively want to talk about themselves.

Your websites visitors are not likely to change their browser or resolution choices to view your website - nor should they be expected to. Your website visitor, frankly, doesn't really care about you. They care about what you can do for them.

The sheer volume of websites that don't load properly in all browsers, don't load properly in all screen resolutions, and don't provide an enjoyable experience for the visitor are indication that far too many sites are not designed with the customer in mind. They are written based on the preferences and knowledge of the developer and the ego of the website owner.

To make matters worse, there are many website owners who are completely unaware of the fact that their website has problems loading in other browsers, platforms or screen sizes. If the website does not please the visitor, the reaction you are more likely to get is "Bye Bye" instead of "Buy, Buy!"

This article was written by, and republished with the permission of Linda Caroll.