Monday, December 19, 2011

The 10-Second Rule: Why You Must Plan Before You Build a Website

You have no choice: If you want to be successful online, you need to develop a website that serves the needs of your visitors in a manner that is both user-friendly and easily understood.

This sounds easy enough, right?

When designing your website, it can be tempting to jump right in and get distracted choosing nice colors and a fancy logo. But before you even consider how your design will look, there's a much more basic design step you need to take. You must plan your navigation and content. Websites not only have to look good, they have to work! After all, what good is impressing people with the dazzle if they end up leaving without buying anything?

How important is it? Well, according to market research from Gartner group, more than 50% of web sales are lost because visitors can't find what they're looking for! Imagine spending all the time, effort, and money attracting visitors to your website, only to lose them because they can't find their way around!

Just like spy movies where the hero has 10 suspense-filled seconds to dispose of his latest assignment before it self-destructs, you have an equally short 10 seconds to grab your visitors' attention before your chances of making a sale self-destruct...and your time visitor leaves your site forever.

You have to make those critical 10 seconds count by ensuring that the first fold of your website (that's the first screen of your website visible without scrolling) snags the attention of your visitors with a compelling benefit that persuades them to stay just a few minutes longer to find out what you offer.

This probably sounds simple enough; however, most websites owners make fatal mistakes within their first fold that drives visitors away and limit the sales potential of their website. In the process of trying to "tell it all"... "sell it all"... or "dazzle em all," they just end up "confusing em all." Or they assume that their website will sell the offer itself, and don't provide enough information.

Think about all of those times you've arrived at a website that:

Overwhelmed you with graphics
Point you in 14 different directions with links here, there, and everywhere
Annoy you with flashy banners
Slow you down with a long, pointless, Flash presentation
Spend the entire first page talking about "Mission Statements"
And just plain drive you away with lack of relevant information
So as you design your site, make sure that it's basic, professional, and gets to the point without too much unnecessary pictures, banners, etc.

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