Simple, Elegant, Useful Websites


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All you need is a simple, elegant, and useful website. A site that is easy to navigate; where the visitor can find his way around without really having to think. In fact, one of the first and also one of the best books I ever read on website design was called, Don’t Make Me Think.

Recently, I was reading a book by Guy Kawasaki called Enchantment: The Art of Changing Minds and Actions. For those of you not familiar with Kawasaki I would urge you to look him up, find his books, and read them. You can also watch his lectures on YouTube and I would recommend you do just that. He was part of the original Apple team as well as part of the team that Steve Jobs pulled together during his second coming at Apple. He is now a venture capitalist, consultant, and one of the leading lecturers in the country. Look him up and check him out--it will be time well spent.

This new book is about getting people to follow you; getting people to rely on your company as a true resource so they will look upon you as something much more valuable than a simple vendor--something we should all be striving toward.

His chapter on websites is one of the most succinct and informative I've ever read. He really drives home the point of not only why you should have a website, but also how to make it a great website as well. As I said earlier, he shows the reader how to develop a simple, elegant, and useful site.

Here now from Kawasaki are 11 tips for making your website simple, elegant, and useful:

  1. Provide good content: This is a “Duh-ism,” but it’s a duh-ism organizations miss. A website or blog without useful or entertaining content is not enchanting. This does not mean everyone has to like your content, but your site must appeal to the segment of the population you’re trying to enchant.
  2. Refresh it often: Enchanting websites and blogs are not brochures that tell a marketing story and seldom change. Good content that doesn’t change isn’t good for long, and people will not return to your website or blog if you don’t provide new material often. Ideally, you should provide new content every two or three days.
  3. Skip the flash (and Flash): You may think it’s cool that a 60-second video plays when people enter your website. Certainly your developer does. That makes two people in the world. Three if you add your developer’s mom. Skip the flash and Flash and let people get right in unless you want them to abort their visit or only visit once.
  4. Make it fast: It’s a shame when anyone can get right to your home page, but then has to wait for it to load. People expect immediate access, and there’s no excuse for a website or blog that takes more than a few seconds to load.
  5. Sprinkle graphics and pictures: Graphics, pictures, and videos make a website or blog more interesting and enchanting. If you’re going to err, use them too much instead of too little, with the exception of a Flash front-end intro.
  6. Provide a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page: People love FAQs because FAQs cut to the chase. Figure out what the most common questions about your cause are and answer them in one place to save your visitors the hassle of searching for the information.
  7. Craft an About page: Visitors should never have to wonder what your organization does and why you do what you do. Provide all this information in an About page. Confusion and ignorance are enemies of enchantment.
  8. Help visitors navigate: Enable people to search your web site or blog to find what they are looking for. Also, a site map helps people understand the topology of your website.
  9. Introduce the team: Few people want to deal with a nameless, faceless and soulless organization. A good Who Are We? Page solves this problem.
  10. Optimize visits for various devices: No matter what device people are using your website and blog should look good. A website designed for a laptop or desktop computer isn’t going to work well for a mobile phone or iPad, so create specific versions for whatever people use to access your site.
  11. Provide multiple methods of access: To each her own; some folks like websites and blogs, and others prefer RSS feeds, e-mail lists. Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Provide multiple methods to engage people and make these options easy to find on your website.

You must remember that whatever you do--whether it is attending trade shows, getting involved in social media marketing, or doing some paid advertising--all paths will lead back to your website. It's the home base for all marketing, so make sure you take Kawasaki’s advice to heart and apply these useful guidelines to your site. Oh, and while you’re at it, pick up his book and read it. You’ll find it’s a great investment in your marketing effort. It’s only common sense.

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