Whilst designing a website for your own business it can be easy to lose track of your users and produce a solution that is easy for you to use, but not them.
It is very important to consider the user experience from the outset, and reflect this in the design, structure, copy writing and search engine optimisation. The whole user interface not only needs to be easy to use, but needs to be fit for purpose.
Although it varies between websites, a simple rule of thumb is to put yourself in your users' shoes. What product or services are they likely to need? What will they type in to Google to find you? What do they want to read when they arrive? And what do you need to do to convince them to purchase an item or to get in contact?
Users can be impatient, so it is important that your home page clearly says who you are and what you do. Ours, for example says “We are web designers, we are Webbed Feet UK”. This is not ambiguous, it is clear and to the point.
In most circumstances the home page shouldn't contain a lot of text, people quite simply won't read it. It is unfair to single out any particular websites but if you search for “welcome to our website” in Google and look at the results, you'll see lots of examples of what not to do.
Consider your home page as a hallway; it is there to welcome visitors, and direct them to the appropriate section as easily as possible. As many companies have different kinds of users, each requiring different products or services, it is often a good idea to differentiate those on your home page. Note on our website we direct users to the “web design and development”, “search engine optimisation”, “mobile apps” and “eCommerce” sections.
Once a user is in to the product or service page it is important to explain how you or your product can help them, rather than just describing what it is. This is your chance to convince the user that you are the company that they should choose.
Finally, as you've hopefully convinced the user to use you, you need to ensure that there is a 'call to action'. For an eCommerce website this would mean adding an item to a shopping cart or checking out. For others it could be completing a registration form, or simply getting the user to pick up the phone. It is important that the 'call to action' is clear and ideally on every page. It is also important that you make it convenient for the user. For example you may want them to complete a contact form (similar to that on our contact page), but the user may want to email. By hiding your email address you may convince the user to complete your form, but you may just as easily put the user off and lose a sale. Make life as easy as you can for the users.
This is of course a simple method that helps increase the user experience for some websites. For more complex websites, or those in a specific niche, other techniques may be required. A good example would be a photographer or designer who may benefit from a beautiful but minimalistic website that makes an impression.
Whatever your business, if you want your website to work the users' experience is key, they need to be considered from search engine or advert, through to enquiry or purchase.
Salisbury web designers Webbed Feet UK have been developing beautiful and well-coded websites since 2001, to put it simply, we create websites that work.