Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Create an Inviting Experience

Want to ensure that visitors will exit your website almost immediately after landing there? If so, be sure to make it difficult for them to find what it is they are looking for. Want to get people to stay on your website longer and read all about your events and services? Follow these six simple design tips.

1. Have a polished, professional logo--and link it to your home page. Your logo is an important part of your brand. It represents your AYSO Region and activities, so make sure it's located prominently on your site. Use a clear, clean image and feature it in the upper left corner of all of your pages. Also, it's a good rule of thumb to link your logo back to your home page so that visitors can easily navigate to it.

2. Use intuitive navigation. Why is intuitive navigation so important? Confusing navigation layouts will result in people quitting a page rather than trying to figure it out. The best way to achieve intuitive navigation, is to think like your visitors. You may know that your sections belong in certain places, but your guests may be searching elsewhere. Find a friend or family member who is not in the know, and ask them to find their way around your website. You may be surprised what they can and can’t get to! 

3. Get rid of clutter. It's very easy these days to be visually overloaded with images, to the point where our brains stop processing information when confronted with too many options. To keep visitors on your site, make sure your pages do not have competing calls to action that can draw the visitor's eyes away from the most important part of the page. Consider limiting the links and options in the header and footer to narrow the focus even further. Keep paragraphs short. On most websites, a single paragraph should be no more than five to six lines.

4. Gather good photography. Stock photography can seem inviting at first. Everything is so clean and professional! Eventually, however, too much stock photography begins to look like stock photography, and that can be very unfriendly. Generic photos can leave a generic impression of your website. Show your visitors a warmer, more personal side. Need more photos for your pages? Why not hold a photo contest, and feature all of the best submissions throughout your pages?

5. Every page is a landing page. Did you know not every user enters through the home page and navigates into the site? The majority of visits for most websites begin on a page that is not the home page, and is the result of a search for specific information. Make sure you give the same care and time to all of your web pages as you do to the design of your home page!

6. Forget the Flash. Thanks in part to the ongoing dispute between Adobe and Apple, the days of Flash as an internet standard are close to over. More and more people are enjoying the internet on their phone or tablet or other mobile devices where Flash is no longer supported. Animations can also be distracting and unpleasant for many of your visitors. Why risk losing such a large audience when there are other options that are much more user-friendly? Focus on beautiful colors, compelling articles, engaging photographs, and ease of use to draw your audience in.

Not every design decision is guesswork.  Following some simple tips alongside testing your layouts with friends and family can help you continuously improve your designs by getting real feedback from real people.

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