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Keeping Visitors On Your Web Page

Hi, it's Warren Here. Welcome to part 3 of "The Insider Secrets To Web Success"

I've got 2 secrets for you today, and they're both to do with keeping visitors on your website, or rather to stop them clicking away from a website that's just too hard to use. In a nutshell, make your pages easy to read and don't make your visitors jump through hoops to find what they want. Otherwise you'll lose them to your competitors.

Secret No 4 -  User Friendly Page Design

A website doesn't have to be ugly to put visitors off. Even a beautiful website designed by a graphic designer can have visitors hitting the back button because it's just too hard to read.  On the other hand, a website can be a bit ugly or even have some design faults and it keeps visitors on the page because the information is just so good.

It's best to have a site that's attractive and easy to read to keep your visitors happy.

Design Faults That Repel Readers

There are some design faults that just put some of your visitors off, and they're possibly exactly the visitors you want to convert into customers.

This is really nice looking but the small white text on on the blue background is hard to read. Why annoy the very people you want to sell to?

Poor Contrast Between text And Background

The first common fault is poor color choice with too little contrast between the text and the background. Have a thought for your more mature visitors. Young visitors may have no problem, but you can assume older visitors don't have great eyesight.

White text on a blue background is bad, but unfortunately not rare. The lighter the blue the harder it is to read. Even white text on a black background is hard to read after a while. Black text on a white background is the easiest combination to read, but black text on a light colored background is usually fine as well.

Another mistake with poor contrast is having an image as the background for your text. The image may be a company logo or just a textured background, but it can make reading hard for your readers with less than perfect eyesight. Result: They click away to your competitors.

Your Page Will Look Different On Different Monitors

You can't judge by what you see on your computer. The colors may look fine on your monitor but when its seen on another monitor they can be quite different. What may be a good contrast on your monitor can be very hard to read on another. The background may well look different - darker or lighter than you see it. And if your visitor's monitor is smaller than yours or set to a different resolution the text may be smaller for them.

Text That Is Too Small

Once again have pity on your older visitors. Yes, it's possible to make text larger in your browser, but a lot of your website visitors don't know that and just as importantly don't want to have to do it.

Small white text on a colored background can look fantastic, but it will have many visitors hitting the back button.

Page Lines That are too Wide

You still see it occasionally. The text stretches right from one side of the monitor to the other. That was okay when monitors were 15 inches wide, but with modern wide screens and high resolutions it can make reading a real chore.

Make Your Pages Scannable

People read differently on the internet. They tend to quickly scan a page to see if it has what they want, so use plenty of headlines to make it easy to scan the page. I must admit, this in an area I need to improve in, and as I work my way through this website improving it I will improve the scannability as well.

Use Plenty Of White Space

White space is the area between paragraphs. Make your paragraphs short, and leave a line space between paragraphs. It makes reading on a computer monitor much easier.

Use A Readable Font

Sans Serif fonts are easiest to read on a monitor, and verdana is one of the best sans serif fonts. Not every computer has every font though, so it's best to specify a few in your style sheets. I specify "verdana, geneva, arial, helvetica, sans-serif". 

The Home Page Mistakes

Visitors are fickle. You have just a few seconds to make a good impression before they hit the back button. They don't want to wait for a full page graphic to load, they don't want video or audio starting automatically, they don't want to have to click to another page to find out if your site is what they're looking for.

If they enter your website via the home page they want to know immediately what your site is going to do for them so tell them.

Secret Number 5: Make Your Navigation Obvious

Your visitors want to be able to find relevant pages on your website easily. They've come to your site to find information or to make a purchase, and if you make them jump through hoops to do that that they will click away to your competitors.

Navigation should be obvious and easy to follow. A left hand navigation bar is fine, linking to your level 2 pages. Text links in your level 2 pages then link to your level 3 pages. That is a proven formula that works so it's well worth considering. Text links on pages need to obviously be links, or not many people will follow them. Using the default link colors is a safe option.

Don't Use Unexplained Icons For Links

One major mistake that still happens, though luckily it's not too common, is having icons or images for navigation with no explanation as to where they lead. Your visitors have to take pot luck! After a couple of attempts to find what they want (if you're lucky) they click away to the competition.

So make your page easy to read and your navigation obvious or you will lose visitors. if your web designer want to do something "because it's cool" think twice.

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