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Website Design: Managing TMI

Have you ever visited a website with the single purpose of purchasing a product, only to find that the website was so overloaded with information and so convoluted that you couldn’t figure out where to even begin your search?

I recently visited a very popular website with the purpose of updating some of my computer software.  When arriving at the home page, I found that the site was overwhelmingly packed with information. Too much information. There were so many images, so many navigation buttons and drop-downs (53 links under the first drop-down to be exact), and so many levels of hierarchy (font sizes, colors, anomalies, etc.) that my eyes immediately went crossed.

Every other page of the site was equally overwhelming and, frankly, annoying. If the product I was about to purchase wasn’t a necessity or if it was a product that I could have purchased elsewhere, I would have bailed immediately upon arriving at the homepage. I really thought that such a popular site would have been set up with a much simpler design and at least a trace of organization. Boy, was I wrong.

Ask your customers if your site is easy to use, whether they are able to quickly find what they are looking for and what can be improved for a better user experience.

After a lot of time and frustration, I was finally able to purchase what I needed. But this was no thanks to the website. I actually had to contact the company directly to get the answers to all of my questions. The website was no help to me at all.

After leaving the site, I needed a nap. I thought, “What a shame.”  I am pretty sure the website included everything that I needed — somewhere.  But the way the information was organized made it impossible to sift through and hard to even look at.

Of course, it wouldn’t be very productive to just complain about these problems without offering solutions that could possibly be useful to our clients. So I’ve since returned to the site to critique it and to decide what I would do differently to reorganize and rework the site to make the user experience more efficient and more pleasant. (Note: The name of the company will remain anonymous to protect the not-so-innocent.)

So, here is what I have come up with:

Problem:
Scattered information/poor sense of hierarchy

Solution:
Visitors should know where to look first, second, third, and so on. The first thing that you should see should be the most important element on the page. With the proper placement, sizing and color of page elements, this can be achieved, no matter how much information you have to share.  Delete irrelevant information.  After doing so, if you are still left with a lot of material, that’s OK, just make sure it is properly organized with the order of importance being a priority.

Problem:
Unruly navigation – 53 drop-down links under the first navigation button? Are you kidding me?

Solution:
Simplify your navigation. It sounds pretty obvious, but having too many buttons is a very common problem. If you think you have too many navigation buttons or drop-down menus, adopt a good system for organizing your buttons, such as breaking those navigations up into groups (a top nav, a side nav, etc.). Or try using sub-page navigations.

Make sure the buttons are easy to read and easy to click on. Avoid using multiple tiers of drop-down menus that are often very difficult to maneuver. (As you try to very carefully navigate your mouse across and down and across again, your mouse falls off the edge of a button and the drop-down disappears and you’re back to square one. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ugh.)

Include a site map on your website and/or a search box so visitors can type in what they need and quickly arrive at their destination.

Problem:
Trouble finding and/or purchasing a product

Solution:
This is also directly related to hierarchy and/or navigation. Whether you have one product or service or 100 products and services, make sure there is always an easy way to find the product and description and a direct route to the final sale (getting there with as few clicks as possible). Perhaps it’s as simple as placing a “Buy Now” button next to your product image or a phone number on each page where customers can contact you. Instead of a wild goose chase to the product and checkout, make finding and purchasing a product easy and as simple of a process as possible.

One last suggestion would be to take some time to evaluate your own site. Think about the sites that you find easiest to utilize and what it is that makes those sites so user-friendly. Compare those sites to your own. Ask your customers if your site is easy to use, whether they are able to quickly find what they are looking for and what can be improved for a better user experience.

If you suspect your website is suffering from TMI, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 for a professional website evaluation.

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3105 Hits

20 Questions to Ask Before Starting a B2B Website Redesign

If you've been involved in the design of your company's website, you probably already know how difficult it can be to convey the type of website design you want.

Website design is a matter of personal taste. What one person finds attractive and professional, you may not and vice versa. Oftentimes, what you want is a matter of "I'll know it when I see it," but unless your website designer is a mind reader, that's not enough information to assure you'll get what you visualized in your own head.

Below is a list of 20 questions to help you solidify in your own mind and communicate to your website designer the look and feel you believe would best represent your company.

Website Redesign Questions

  1. Do you prefer website designs that contain many different colors or designs that use fewer colors?
  2. Do you prefer bright colors or muted colors?
  3. Does your company have specific corporate colors? PMS Colors?
  4. Do you prefer website designs that have white backgrounds behind the text or colored backgrounds behind the text?
  5. Do you prefer sites with black type for the main text or those with colored type for the main text?
  6. Do you have any font preferences?
  7. Do you prefer website designs with a horizontal layout or a vertical layout?
  8. Regarding navigation, which button locations do you prefer - horizontal across the top, down the left or the right side, in blocks, or a combination of some horizontal and some vertical?
  9. Do you want a straightforward rendering of the logo, or would prefer something with more color gradation or artistic treatment?
  10. Does your company have a motto or tagline that should be incorporated into the design?
  11. If yes, do you prefer the site tagline in a straightforward, headline-style format or do you prefer a more stylized format?
  12. Some sites have faded terms related to their businesses embedded in images- Do you like this technique?
  13. Do you prefer sites with actual product images or those with stock photographs that evoke specific responses, such as a sense of dependability or professionalism?
  14. Do you prefer website designs with straightforward, realistic photographs of products or those that contain artistically altered images of products?
  15. Do you prefer to have your product images on the left side, along the top or down the right side?
  16. Are there any logos for industry quality, certification programs or association memberships that should be part of the site's design?
  17. Do you want your site to incorporate additional media, like slide shows or YouTube videos?
  18. Does your company have social media accounts that you would like to have linked from your site? 
  19. Who are your primary competitors?  Is there anything you like or don’t like about their sites?
  20. Do you have any favorite sites that do something well that could be incorporated on your company site?   
  21. Do you have any marketing materials you would like to have the site complement for brand continuity?

For assistance with your website redesign, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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5710 Hits