Examining Your Site Design

Normally, website owners tend to take a hands off approach to site design, or at least don’t put as much emphasis over it when compared to tracking and analyzing traffic and numbers, even though they are aware that design affects the bottomline as well. This is because design is a little bit more subjective and open to interpretation compared to hard numbers, and they feel that they should focus more on things that they’re more likely to accurately assess and control.

However, failing to take a more active control in your site’s design could make you lose out on one of the most important things in a business-customer relationship: first impressions. Think of a website’s design as akin to a newspaper article’s title or headline – if it fails to capture a person’s attention, there is a huge chance that the article itself is not going to get read. With websites, if your site’s design looks ugly, cluttered, or generally uninteresting to users, chances are they’re not going to bother surfing further regardless of how valuable the content is.

Why Do You Need to Examine Your Site Design?

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For one very simple reason: enriching the user experience. Running a business or company website is unique in such a way that people think it’s all about providing the right kind of content – whether it’s information or tangible products – to people, not knowing that the way in which the content is served is also part of their responsibility. If you want to make sure that poor design isn’t bottlenecking your business, here are a few things you might want to take a close look at:

1. Are You Targeting the Right Visitors? – people of different genders, of different interests, even of different age will respond to different visual cues. To come up with a crude example, women interested in feminine topics generally respond better to sites that use feminine colors like pink as opposed to dark gloomy colors. Or that people who are looking for corporate websites tend to appreciate whites and light grays over neon color themes.

So from the start, you need to identify the audience you are targeting and to examine if your design is customized to their expectations. It’s not just colors, but also the images. Are you expecting a lot of kids and their parents as visitors? Don’t use stock pictures of the elderly or don’t use stock photos that depict racy or offensive elements. If you failed this examination, chances are you are already losing out on a large chunk of potential visitors.

2. Make Sure People Are Being Directed to The Right Pages – checking for broken links is a given, and is fairly automatic with most CMS nowadays. However, one thing you are missing out is if your visitors are being redirected to the right kind of existing pages. This one might need more advanced tools, but nothing that should require you to pay money as Google’s Webmaster Tools allows you to do it for free.

For example, if people who are searching for articles about Dwayne Johnson’s career as a wrestler might be pointing to articles in your site related to his career as an actor even though you have a wrestling section that has all the content they need, you’re going to have a lot of bounces.

For a way to solve this, you need to look at what Wikipedia is doing. If you visit a page about an entry that could pertain to multiple topics (such as Novels that also have Film, TV, and Comic Book adaptations,) the top part of the page will show you a link to the other entries, sort of a reminder that in case the content isn’t the one you are looking for, they have the other types on the site as well.

3. Make Sure Your Navigation is Smooth – have you ever visited a page that is more than 2 pages deep yet the 2nd level of pages don’t have links back to the home page or to other pages? Browsers have a back button for this purpose but you have to admit that the experience isn’t as smooth if you constantly have to “press rewind” while browsing.

Make sure your site is designed in a way that navigation is natural, that surfers can easily go to where they want to be in your site regardless of whether they want to go back, forward, or “home.” You can also take advantage of this with navigational and visual cues. For instance, a bigger button or arrow for the Checkout compared to the smaller button for going up a level. Surfers still have the means to get around the site, but you are encouraging them to convert or go towards the end of a sales funnel.


When it comes to running a website, particularly one with an eye on making money, it is important to cover all the bases – even ones that don’t have an obvious connection to the sales funnel. In this case, it’s site design. You can learn how to do it yourself or you can hire a third party but the important part is that you need to get someone who understands the approach both from an aesthetics and a user experience perspective.

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