Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why your websites don’t work for you – Part 4

It’s time to make your websites work for you! Be it reducing bounce rate on websites, increasing attention span of visitors or converting visitors into users, as discussed in my earlier blogs, there is one common link that acts as a solution for these issues!

Making Your Website Work for You

Once you have identified the problem areas, it’s easier to narrow down to the solution. In web design, we need to primarily think about the visitor/user and why a person would even want to stay on your website.
A common thread to solve these problem areas is interactivity. Why interactivity? Well, let me do a quick check on this as well!

Let us see how we can resolve the problems discussed in the previous weeks with examples that reflect the solutions.

Overcoming High Bounce Rate with Interactivity

This website (above image) has successfully used a 3D flip book to present a company profile, its learning solutions, etc. The design is handled with great finesse as text is presented through an interactive flip book that helps to keep users on the page, which in turn reduces bounce rate! And yes, creating such 3D flip books is not as time consuming as you may think! Interactivity proves to bridge the gap between site visitors and website owners.

Increasing Attention Span of Visitors on Websites
A curiously simple yet interactive website, M studio has things right in place! It first holds attention of the website visitor with this interesting range of colors and panels. As you go through the site, the different sections of the site are revealed in association with the varied colors seen in the image. It makes the visitor explore it further. The rest of the sections are unfolded only when some action is performed on the site from the visitor. The information is interestingly presented through the creative use of Flash!

Turning Visitors into Users
As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, there is a need to convert visitors into users on websites. In the example above, the website includes an interesting mix of shopping products showcased through an interactive Panning Cards model. Here, the site owner would obviously want more and more visitors turning into a valued shopper for the site! The presentation of the products through Panning Cards is truly a boon for readers. They don’t have to scroll through long text description. Besides, the interactive model makes browsing easy and fun! The design appears inviting for a user to glance and begin exploring the site leading to an instant purchase after browsing through deals. Interactivity sure does play a major role out here!

Well, all said and done, apart from interactivity, an attractive web layout and good navigational elements, you also need a dash of creativity and passion for excellence. With a combination of all these elements, I know your websites will surely work for you! Do post your most creative inspirations.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why your websites don’t work for you – Part 3

For the last 2 weeks, we have taken a look at two basic problems in terms of websites and their design issues. Now, it’s time to tackle yet another common problem faced by webmasters.

Layouts That Don’t Turn Visitors into Users:
A website needs to be designed to convert visitors into users. This means your website should be able to convince a visitor to use your product, service or sign up on your website for any offer being displayed. Successful web design tackles the problems mentioned earlier which in turn gets a loyal fan following in terms of traffic. For example, if you have a product website, your casual visitor should be tempted into signing up for a product trial! Let us take a look at a website which offers various products to its visitors.

In this example, the website does have varied offers on products. However, visitors are not really motivated to sign up with such a site or explore the offers on display. The panels don’t seem very interesting, the coupons section appears cluttered and looking for information is a tedious job out here. The business of the website is clearly about selling DVDs. Here, it is of utmost importance that a casual visitor should turn into a user with the website. Isn’t this what web design should be all about?

Now, let us have a look at a website which is good in terms of its overall visual appeal, yet we will spot design issues out here.
In this website (seen in the above image), there are chances you may get lost! Well, there are few deals highlighted but the text and graphics do not really motivate a visitor to try something on the site. There is a need to reach out to maximum people due to the number of products. Yet, the website does not motivate a visitor to sign up or browse deals and turn into a user. I felt a little lost on this site but realized pretty much later it’s not just about computers but other products as well.

Let’s now move on towards solving both these web design related. Here lies the tricky part of converting visitors into users!

Ensuring Loyal Users

One slight trick can work like magic! Interactivity plays a major role out here as well! You can turn your visitors into users by highlighting the right elements through interactivity. In the first example given, the various offers on the DVDs can be better highlighted with interactivities such as 3D Flip Book. Users would enjoy the pleasure of virtually flipping through the book whilst reading about the product at the same time and leading to a sign up to purchase the product online. The second example can also be projected well with interactivities such as Countdown Timers or banners to bring user attention to an area. This not only increases curiosity of the users, the message can propel a person to sign up for a product trial or purchase!

As we can see in this series, these 3 common problems hinder the actual functioning of a website. By now, I am sure you are looking for a complete answer that will erase these issues! In that case, you need to watch this space next week to look up some interesting examples. Do feel free to share your websites as well!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why your websites don’t work for you – Part 2

Last week, we took a look at increased bounce rate of visitors on websites. This week, I would like to turn the spotlight on another common issue faced by web designers.

Decreased Attention Span from Users:
Maybe your website did manage to sustain a user for a long duration yet there is no marked improvement in user-involvement on the site. Well, this is yet another common problem faced by webmasters. A visitor may casually browse through the site, but may not really participate in any activity. For example, a product site that has plenty of offers on display will not really benefit the site owner if the user does not click on the products/offers to explore it further.

In the above image, the website does not really capture user attention for any section. The headings are not catchy and the overall look of the website is text heavy. At one glimpse, it is not even successful in communicating what the website is all about. This is surprising considering it is about a web designing company! If user attention is not held out here, how will prospective clients even trust the company? A question best answered by them! The ‘Join the Mailing List’ section is hardly seen, so how will visitors participate in any activity on the site?

The above image is about a rental homes website. Yet, I somehow could not figure this out until I read the text. The elements do no justice to the topic. There are no offers or details mentioned to interest visitors. A poor design with no scope for any activity by visitors leads to further disinterest and disengagement. Apart from the design, there is also a need to attract user attention towards major highlights and offers or deals. This is when visitors will be most interested in a website.

At this point, you might wonder how this issue can be solved. How do we increase attention span of users? Continue reading for the solution.

Increasing Attention Span of Users

Interactivity…yes! Interactivity is the answer to all your questions.

Interactivity helps to grab attention of users. Someone casually visiting your website may stay longer if your offer is highlighted through a unique interactivity. An interactive banner can be placed in one section of the website to complement a balanced web design. The idea is to hold the attention of the user. Once the first step is achieved, the next steps follow. For example, a section of a website can be highlighted with an interactive Panning Cards model which helps to keep attention of a user in one area, delivering the message at the same time. The design should invite a person to explore the site.

I hope this has helped you to start thinking on what interactivity is all about and how to make the best use of it. My next blog would help you to get even more insights into interactivity and few more samples to different types of interactivity. I shall also tackle the 3rd and most common problem for webmasters. Till then, keep designing!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why your websites don’t work for you – Part 1

It’s been a while since I actually penned down my thoughts, or should I say, typed voraciously into my keyboard! Well, all the while I have been hammered by questions from people who have the best website design yet don’t really have too many takers in terms of visitors. So, coming back to my favorite topic, web design, I came across this golden question voiced by webmasters - ‘Why your websites don’t work for you’. This series is planned in 4 parts. Here, we shall take a look at situation 1 out of 3 main problem areas with a detailed solution in my 4th blog of this series.

High Bounce Rate:
Why do visitors leave the website immediately from the page they land upon? There can be many reasons for the same. A cluttered website with too many elements such as graphics and animations can force a visitor to jump to another site. Navigational issue is another reason wherein visitors may jump to another site in the absence of a clear navigational structure. For example: an informative website will have users seeking authentic content. However, if the design and navigation does not direct the user appropriately, the obvious action would be to visit some other website.

In the above image, there is a heavy usage of color and graphics. As a user, it does not make one explore the site further. Imagine navigating through this website! Are you really motivated to stay on such a site? This is one of the main reasons why there is a high bounce rate of users.

This example (above image) is a sight to drive users….away instantly! Even if the website has interesting content, I wonder how many would read text out here. There is a heavy amount of text, images are sparse, the fonts are uneven in size and the overall look is messy. The rest, you can guess easily!

Overcoming High Bounce Rate
Engaging visitors on websites is an effective solution to reduce bounce rate. This does not mean you need to load websites with heavy graphics and animations! The effective use of interactivity helps to keep users on the page itself. Instead of using a web page like a complete creative canvas and ‘spilling’ your creativity on it, interactivity can be used to highlight areas of interest. A product portfolio can be showcased through interactivity such as 3D Flip Book. This will not only engage users on the page, it will also ensure your message reaches the target group effectively.

In our next blog post of the series, let us take a look at the second problem. I shall also dedicate one entire blog to present solutions of each problem with examples. (Make sure you don’t miss that!) Looking forward to hear from all budding web designers to know the kind of problems faced while designing a website.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How to Think Creative…Constantly!

Jack was on his usual walk this morning. Everything seemed to have a dull streak for him. The same old roads, the same people and even the same job! Jack was unable to motivate neither his team members nor himself. What he lacked was the knack of looking at the same thing with an optimistic approach!

We are all ‘Jacks’ at some point in our lives. We need to be creative to think creatively. Jack could have looked at the bright, beautiful skies which he failed to notice. He could have been inspired by the beautiful flowers on the sidewalks. The soft, lilting sound of the birds would have given him all the positive energy for the day. Yet, Jack suffered from depression.

Often artists/web designers/designers often come up to me and ask, “What should we do to be creative?” There is no fixed formula for the same. The trick lies in unleashing your creativity. We need to connect with nature and things around us. There is a need to be observant. Find your interests and pursue them. Only then can creativity reflect in one’s work!

A web designer once said, “I know software such as Photoshop or Flash, yet I am unable to create websites that are exclusive in design.” For this, I feel that there are many tools on the market to bring about that magical touch to websites. To use them to the fullest requires creativity in the mind. Ideas are the soul of any design and tools are useful to give shape to those ideas.

To think creatively, you need to free your mind…and your soul!