I was reading a recent issue of The Internet & Marketing Report last night. And there were two completely separate articles in this issue that both seemed to tie together somehow. The theme of both? Keep your design simple!
Now, this publication is generally for marketing professionals who oversee websites that sell products or services. It’s not exactly the same as an author web site, but it’s similar enough. Both types of websites have a primary goal: “selling” something. For an author, it’s usually the book. For a business, it’s primarily their services (or the items in their e-commerce store). But the idea is pretty much the same.
And The Internet and Marketing Report has some pretty interesting information about what works (and what doesn’t) in terms of successful online sales. Here’s an overview of what the two articles have to say…
1. Fancy designs and fonts are distracting. Too many site designers go a little overboard in terms of being different and artistic. But the best converting sites are often pretty simple and boring.
2. Keep your “call to action” in a primary place. For an author, the “call to action” on any given page might be buying the book. It might be signing up for the newsletter. But be very clear on each page of your website exactly what that goal is, and make it the most eye-catching thing on the page.
3. Declutter! Again, what pleases a designer may not be what pleases the reader. Bold graphical elements (like rotating images) can be distracting. Is the navigation hard to find or scan? Let your potential readers have an experience that’s easy on the eye.
4. Use colors intelligently. Bright colors catch people’s attention. So use the boldest, brightest colors on the part of the page where you want people to spend their time.
5. Stick to a conventional layout. Whether they know it or not, web visitors intuitively know where to look for things on a website. So if you’re site differs from convention, it’s easy for people to feel lost.
6. Keep your navigation on the top or left hand side. Again, people don’t really think about where a navigation is. They just know where to automatically look for it. They only notice it when it’s not where they expect it to be. And that makes it more likely that they leave your site out of frustration.
7. Put your most important content on the left half of the page. Web users spend 69% of their time viewing the left half of any page, and only 30% of their time on the right, according to Jakob Nielsen’s Useit.com. So only use the right hand column for less-important content, such as FAQs, asking for site feedback, etc…
As much as you may want to defy convention, fight that urge to make your website totally different and unique. Making these smart decisions early in the design phase will only increase your book sales.
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