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Effective web design principles

Do you remember those old, flash-based websites which were running all sorts of ugly looking animations? Wait, there are still plenty of them on the Internet! They are outdated by today's standards, though. And flash will soon be dead.

People simply refuse to visit websites which take ages to load, or don't provide the expected information right away, the second they've arrived on the site's landing page. And you'd better listen to your website visitors, because they are the ones who can turn your websites and projects into successes or failures.

So, the very first step is to focus on your website's usability. You need to understand the way in which website visitors interact with your site. How much time do they spend on each page? And how long do they scroll down the page? How many of them click their browsers' "back" buttons within the first 30 seconds or so?

Of course, this means that you should have an advanced website analytics system in place, which allows you to determine with great precision what your site visitors are doing. Something like Crazy Egg, which also incorporates tremendously useful A/B testing features, for example.

People simply love high quality content, which provides all the needed information in a single place. They dislike the idea of having to visit 10 different websites in order to find out all there is to know about a particular topic.

Therefore, if you want to design an effective website, create content that discusses each and every aspect of the chosen topic in great detail. It will probably be a long read, and few users have the patience to read a 30-minute article, but if your content piece is really good, they'll bookmark it, share it with others, and return to it anytime they need to learn more. Content quality is far more important than site design. Of course, good website graphics play their role as well.

I have said this several times, and I will say it once again: users want to feel in control at all times. So, don't throw unexpected pop-ups at them, don't scare them by playing weird website sounds, and so on. Ensure that people have a pleasant experience while they are visiting your website, and they'll come back for more.

An intuitive site architecture and user navigation system will help in this sector as well. Breadcrumbs can show a distracted user how to return to the home page, or how to reach your contact page within a few seconds, for example.

If you want to have a lead capture form (and you should always have one!), ensure that you aren't requesting a lot of information. People's first names and email addresses are more than enough, at least in the beginning. Also, don't force your website visitors to create accounts just to test your tool. Create a demo account that anyone can use, and then let them become familiar with your piece of software. If they really like it, they'll quickly create the account you're interested in.

While we are here, if you run a business, you should act, talk and communicate like a business owner. You already know that you should create professional looking content. Avoid using jokes; your sense of humor may not impress others. Use short, concise phrases. Avoid filler words. Break content into simple, easy to understand paragraphs. White space is your friend, so be sure to use plenty of it.

Don't forget that you should always be running A/B tests. Otherwise, you will never find out if your design is effective, being able to convert website visitors into leads. Since you've worked at the website for several weeks or months, you know how to utilize it in a way that won't produce any errors. Your users won't be familiar with the result of your work, though, so they will probably choose options and paths you've never thought about. So, do your best to run A/B tests on a regular basis.