The “best” website is not the one that wins awards or is done by some design expert or geek who has it down to a science. The best websites are out there and are found each and every day. The ‘best’ website is one that sells. The ‘best’ website is one that achieves it’s purpose and does it well. No matter if the site is selling a product or a service, or perhaps is even giving away free information, the purpose is the same, to achieve the goal of the site.
While the goals of the sites may differ the techniques are the same. Sites either sell a product or service or they sell something free, like information.
Some sites are not into selling as much as advertising. Some are mere brochures for their company. That is not really called selling a product. In that case you are selling the company. Even if the site is giving away free e-books, you still have to sell the visitor on trusting the organization enough to accept free e-books.
No matter what is being offered, selling is part of the equation. The sales techniques through the website is to make the products, company or organization look as good as possible.
As a website designer the goal is to provide a service to the client. To do this well we must fulfill their needs. It is not about making a flashy site, unless a flashy site is needed to sell the client’s product or service.
Many times there are website designers looking for work and businesses looking for website designers. Matching them up as a third party is not advisable because the website designers have portfolios full of work that looks good in an art gallery or in a design show, however, where the ‘rubber meets the road’ in achieving results, there is something lacking. Business sites do not need just flashy graphics they need effective sites.
Now we come to the important question, “What is web design that sells?” This part is easier to explain than to implement. The major difficulty here is that many web designers view themselves as artists; however, they are not thinking of this ‘art’ in the proper ‘Web’ way. The tendency is to think of themselves as visual artists who are just using a different medium, that of the Web. That is inaccurate.
This is a whole new form of art. This is art with the designers playing a role of interactive or audience participation. While these are still artists, it is much different than the conventional artist. These artists are more like illusionists or magicians. It is not art that merely woos the visitor and feeds just the eyes. It is about getting the visitor involved in the site. It is about getting them to read, to click and to interact with the site. This is the bottom line of Web design.
How is this accomplished? To achieve this the design must be simple but not boring. A successful site is interactive yet it is easy to use. All the while, it gently guides the potential customer to the goal, which is usually a sale, or retrieval of information for their use, which can also lead to a future sale.
If we want to look at a successful site, let’s look at the simple, some would say minimalist design of Google. The homepage loads fast. The only home page that could load faster is one that would only have:
Google is the most-visited site on the Internet.
Another well-known and fast loading website is eBay. It is a bit more complex than Google but still able to maintain the quick loading feature. Another feature, especially for eBay is the easy of use. It is very well organized. There is no required prior training to be able to navigate the site on the first visit. Did you notice that was accomplished on a site that is ALL about selling.
Great design needs to be simple and effective. This is accomplished by more than just graphics and visual flow. How the visitor interacts with the site is of vast importance. The visitor must perceive that the site has something to offer them.
That is the hook that keeps them there. It is about ‘selling’ the site through the web design and all the elements that make up quality design. The other ingredients are a strong blending of teamwork between the designer, copywriter, who writes ad-copy, and the behind the scenes programmer. All have vital roles to play in the design that makes a difference.
A good website is the one that works. The website that accomplishes the goal. As business partners search for more innovative ways to cultivate business, designers will continue to find innovative ways to make web design that will benefit both the business owner and the potential customer.
The industry is moving away from the ‘art of art’ and moving towards the too often elusive ‘best’ web site. The site does not have to win any awards but it does have to be the ‘best’. That is interpreted as great web design.
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