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Successful Website Design – What Mr. A Likes, Mrs. B Doesn’t

Keller Hawthorne | June 18, 2010 | 4 Comments
Website Design and Development
Successful Website Design – What Mr. A Likes, Mrs. B Doesn’t

What constitutes a successful website? “A good design”, say some people, “Outstanding content” say others, while others still emphasize the importance of online marketing. Who is right? All of them, of course!

The success of a website depends on the successful interaction of a variety of website elements and marketing activities. The most important thing you need to know if you want to really get it right is whom you actually want to reach via the Internet. Only those who are as familiar as possible with their target audience will be in a position to offer something that will be attractive to its members. The website of an online fashion store will presumably look very different to that of a financial consultant and a discotheque’s online presence will be quite different again. Always keep your target audience in mind.

What Is Success?

As the owner of a private website, you are perhaps happy that your website gets a lot of visitors. But for the online presence of a small or medium sized business to succeed, that is not enough. Nothing is gained from it if a thousand people a day visit your website but no one takes up your offers.

For companies, success on the Internet means doing good business on the Internet, not just getting a high number of visitors to the website. That’s why it is important to concentrate on your target audience. It is this group that your website must specifically address, serve and, in the end, encourage to buy your products or take advantage of your services.

Web Design – Attractive Is Not Always Attractive

What your company has to offer determines the design and layout of your website. An upbeat and cheerful design addresses a young fun-loving audience, but, in the case of a financial company, it quickly gives a frivolous impression. Fashion pages, for example, rarely work without large format images. Services such as tax advice, on the other hand, can be sold with the use of very few photos.

The art of good web design lies in creating a site that stands out from the crowd, but, at the same time, is not so out of the ordinary that users feel unfamiliar with it and are unable to quickly find what they want. It is rarely advisable to introduce too many flashing animations.

Interesting Is Not Always Interesting

If you read the countless studies that show who uses the Internet and for what, you will discover, for example, that different age groups use the Internet in a variety of different ways.

Are you perhaps planning to include an attractive online game on your website? Thirty percent of those aged 14 to 19 years and 28 percent of those aged 20 to 29 years play such games at least once a week. In the case of silver surfers aged 50 years and upwards, the figure drops to only ten percent.

That does not necessarily mean that you will have no success with older people if you include elements such as these in your website. Just be aware that it will be more difficult to enthuse your target audience with them.

Always Important Is User-Friendliness

If users of your website have to waste time and effort searching to find what they are looking for, they will often switch fairly quickly to other websites.

  • Place a menu on your homepage where your visitors will expect to find it.
  • Choose easy to understand categories so that first-time visitors know immediately what they can expect to find in each respective category.
  • Choose a font for your text that is easy to read; it should not be too small and should stand out clearly from the background.

Online Marketing – The Way to Increase Awareness

The success of your website does not depend on your website alone. Online marketing can take you to a variety of places on the Internet where you can recommend your website to your target audience.

Online marketing involves using a number of different tools, including search engine optimization, promotions, social networking platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, as well as working with marketing partners (Affiliate Marketing) or advertising on Google. It is important to keep your target audience in mind when using these marketing channels. If your target market rarely uses Twitter, you might just be wasting your time there.

Websites Targeted At Other Countries

It may be that you have an excellent website which works perfectly well with your U.S. target audience and that your domestic sales are outstanding. Nevertheless, if your business has export potential, it would make sense to consider international markets too.

Once you have selected your target country/ies by localizing your website, you will be able to seek out new customers. It is essential to have the text of your website professionally translated into the relevant language/s, but translation alone is not enough. In order to set up a website geared to the international market, you need to take into account the culture of the target country/ies and ensure that every element of your site is suitable. For example:

  • Arabic speakers read from right to left, which means that while the user-friendly structure of your website might be user-friendly for Americans, it is quite the opposite for people in Arab countries.
  • The design and color scheme of your U.S. website might appeal to Americans but does it appeal to the Japanese, Brazilians or Italians?
  • Does the bold wording, that American customers like so much, have the same effect on the Chinese? Or are they likely to find such boldness off-putting?

You should plan your international website in collaboration with a professional translator who has an in-depth knowledge of the culture of your target country/ies. This way you can be sure to avoid the kind of mistakes that might impede its success.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christian Arno is the managing director of Lingo24, an international translation company which specializes in websites localization.
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