What makes a website great depends on who you're trying to attract. For example, if you're looking to have homeowners book a plumbing appointment online, you'll want to design your website differently than if you're trying to sell croissants at your bakery.
Ensure your website content and layout is optimized for a good customer experience. Sites that are attractive, easy to navigate, and informative tend to be more profitable.
Use these tips as a starting point to think about ways to design and revise your website:
When you plan, design, or evaluate your website, pretend that you're one of your own customers, trying to accomplish a task. What brought the customer there? Does the customer have questions or a specific goal? What familiarity does the customer have with your products? This can be a difficult task because your knowledge of your products and website will likely be much deeper than your customer's knowledge – consider asking a coworker, friend, or family member who is less experienced with your business and website to navigate it for you.
For a new customer, unfamiliar websites can be very confusing. If you provide too many links, too many images, or too much text, you might confuse a potential customer. Ultimately, a well-organized and clear website can provide a better experience for customers, and make it easier for them to make a purchase or contact you.
Make sure that your pages will load quickly for all your customers, especially if some of your customers use slower internet connections (such as dial-up internet). In general, try to avoid lots of images, large images, and complex website widgets.
Make sure you don't have outdated information, such as announcements for sales that have finished or incorrect pricing. Such details erode your customers' confidence in your website and in your company.
Many customers, especially of stores with physical locations, will go to websites to get contact information, address, and business hours. You might want to include this information at the bottom of every page.
Many of your customers will visit your website via mobile phones. Many of these phones will not be able to play Flash or handle complex, interactive graphics. Rather than losing these potential customers, provide a way for them to at least get critical information, if not browse your entire website.
After you evaluate your website, you’ll also want to think about where on your site you’d like your customers to go. Send your customers to a page that has the information, promotion, or product promised in your ad. If customers don't easily find what prompted them to click on your ad, they're more likely to leave your site.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — making your website show up prominently in organic, unpaid search results — can be a complex task. However, many of the things that will make your website attractive to search engines, such as a clear page title and descriptive link text, are also elements that your customers will likely value.
To help you get your page listed in Google's search results, learn more about web developer guidelines.
After your website is up and running, you can monitor its performance and look for areas to improve. To identify those areas, you might consider using Google Analytics. Google Analytics tracks your website's visitors and tells you how many times your website's pages were viewed, how long people spent on your pages, where your visitors went after viewing a particular page, and more.