The old adage is that you cant judge a book by its cover. But you do it anyway, so its useless to pretend that others dont, as well. Content may be King, but Appearance is the horse it rides in on, be it a magnificent steed or a gimpy nag.
Every detail within your website is an important element that helps convey your unique Message"not just to Humans, but to Spiders, too"so its important to get it right. And we arent speaking of simple, shallow, outward show. The things people dont see are of equal importance to the things they do see.
A Sharply Dressed Website
We all realize that each one of these subjects could easily fill a long article by itself, or even an entire book. But we will touch upon each one briefly.
- Pleasing Colour & Design scheme that produces your desired emotional response
- Distinctive Logo that clearly identifies your Brand
- Intuitive Layout that requires no explanation or instruction
- Content that leaves your readers wanting more
- Targeted SEO underneath the hood that doesnt intrude on the user experience
- Quick Page Load and responsive handling - No sluggish scripts or plugins
Emotional Psychology of Colour & Design
In his classic bestselling book, Dress for Success, even though he primarily taught how to achieve the upper-class business look, John Mallow stressed the importance of dressing appropriately for the job you want. A painter should apply for a painter's job looking like a painter.
A website for children should not look like CNN, and you will never see a News site covered in Pastel with a bright Flower wallpaper in the background.
For better or worse, Expectation and Cliche are the tools we use to create an instant recognition in the mind of the visitor about what kind of website they are looking at. If you want to be creative and step outside the Box, you mustn't stray too far from the unwritten confines of the Box already created by others. Otherwise, removing yourself from established orthodoxy for your niche will prevent visitors from taking you seriously.
The caveat, of course, is that Rules are made to be broken, and Rules that are broken very well can create a unique perspective that attracts visitors and drives Traffic.
Branding with a Hot Logo
Although overall colour scheme plays a part in Branding, your Logo is that one little symbol that says it all. A logo must be simple enough to be recognized and distinctive enough to be memorable.
The best placement is at the left side of your Header, if for no other reason than that is where your visitors expect to see it. If you were Coca-Cola you could place your logo almost anywhere. But you're not"so don't.
We have all seen many, many bland, forgettable Logos that all fight for top honours in the Me Too competition. If bland and forgettable is the Image you want your visitors to, uhm, forget, then knock yourself out. Otherwise, your time is well-invested when carefully testing and choosing your Logo.
A Layout Well-Traveled
There seems to be some perverse Rule that the more important the website, the more convoluted the Navigation must be. I have certain expectations when I visit your site, and playing Hide & Seek is not one of them. Keep your Road Signs simple enough to prevent me from driving right past your watering hole.
And even if your Navigation is straight-forward and intuitive, it won't matter if the landscape is a minefield of advertisements and clutter.
Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch says he can't make a profit from the Advertising on his websites. If your ads are not making you money, get rid of them. Focus on your Core Offer and find unobtrusive methods for presenting it.
Not Just a Pretty Face
So here we are, back to Content. Your Content should be relevant to the subject of your website. It should be well-written, informative, and interesting. If it's entertaining as well, even better.
Good Content tells me what I want to know about:
- Your Topic
- Your Abilities
- Your Reliability
- Your Product
If you can present this information in a way that holds my interest, I will return for more when I need to. If you entertain or evoke positive emotions in the process, I will return because I want to.
Optimize and Organize
My view of Search Engine Optimization is one of Order. Simply ensure that your message is Consistent. In this article, I am not pounding the same Keyword over and over. But all through the article there is a consistency of word usage surrounding the Keyword. I have written for People all the way through. But the algorithm is certain to pick up all the words that associate with each other.
What Keywords have I used throughout this article?
All of these words, together, paint a picture of Relevance to the core Topic/KeyPhrase, which is "Web Design," right there in the Title. And as you see right here in this section, I was able to re-emphasis all of these words in a very people-friendly way that not only did no harm to the flow of the article, but added to the value of the Instruction itself.
Another piece that is gaining attention is Speed. I hate websites that are so filled with scripts and plugins that they become sluggish and unresponsive.
OK, I get it, you want me to Tweet your post. But if I have difficulty getting through the page I won't bother to read your post, let alone recommend you.
And don't even get me started about Pop-ups!
Some plugins are better than others, and some scripts bring more problems than solutions. User Experience is paramount. A cluttered page and sluggish movement make you look amateur, and can ruin all the hard work you put into wonderful Content and beautiful Artwork.
Google thinks so, too, and will penalize you for it.
Don't Put All Your Eggs in Google's Basket
An aspect of SEO that is rarely is discussed is Quality. Your site must be attractive enough to your core demographic to be able to drive Traffic independently of Google.
You never know what Google will do or change next, so the safest course of action is to rely on your own efforts to bring visitors.
Having said that, I believe Google respects Traffic. Think of the process as a bank loan. You won't get the loan unless you can prove you don't really need it. If a significant amount of your Traffic comes from a variety of other sources, Google sees that as an indicator and endorsement of your Quality.
And never forget, a high Page Rank Backlink that no one clicks is not as valuable to you as a lower PR Link that drives Traffic to your site.
An attractive website"from top to bottom to deep inside"will retain visitors, and more importantly, bring them back for more. And, they will spread the Word about you, too.
The Mantra with Google is Relevance, and nothing says Relevance more than a Traffic flow that makes Google, well, Irrelevant.
Your Website is Your Message
If your website looks like it has value, people will believe your Content has value. There is much more to good SEO than Keywords. Well-crafted Content goes hand-in-hand with attractive design for an overall professional and believable presentation.
When people see a consistent Message within your Website, your Content, your Style, and your Attitude, they will trust you far more than they would if these elements are in disagreement with each other. Consistency spells Competence.
And speaking of disagreement, now is the time to offer your Opinion in the Comment Box below. Tell me, what is YOUR Message?