Welcome Your Online Guests With Your Website: How To Think About A Website
There’s a lot of great information on the internet about website design. We have our own opinions too, but we wanted to take a moment to remind people what the purpose of a website is.
It’s your business, just online.
A website is vitally important, especially with over 3 billion people on the internet now, according to internet live stats. So if you’re getting ready for a website redesign, or you’re in the process of designing your first website, there’s a great way to think about your website to help you along in the process.
Welcome Your Visitors As You Would Guests in a Lobby
Think of your website as if your business had a physical location, but it’s online. Whether or not you have a physical office doesn’t matter. Or, rather, if you don’t have a physical store, there’s a good chance your website is even more important.
But for the moment, suspend the thought, and imagine that someone types in the url and arrives at your website. They’ve just walked into the lobby of your store. What do they see?
Good lobbies should be clean, at the very least. Better lobbies are also beautiful or have clear signs that direct visitors to wherever they want to go, but the best have both. A single banner should clearly show what this store offers, and at a glance the visitor should know what sort of store they’ve arrived in. If it’s an exceptional lobby, they are greeted personally and welcomed with a smile as they are directed to the different options.
The visitor can walk from the lobby into one of the other rooms quickly. There’s a clear sign over the door that shows what the point of this room is for, and inside it’s no less clean than the lobby, no less beautiful, but the artwork stays out of the way of the information, which is blatantly displayed and easy-to-read. There are more signs, all in uniform style, that show how to navigate between the rooms, and again what each room offer.
All decorations only enhance the visit, they don’t overwhelm and aren’t in the way of the information or the products. If a visitor wants to start over, they can quickly return to the lobby at any point, and if they have questions they can easily get to a room where they’re immediately connected with the folks that run the store. Or, if a visitor has found what they want, they can purchase what they came for in an expedited manner and leave.
None of this focuses on the company, because the business is here for their customer. It’s about the customer’s experience, and helping the customer to quickly get to what they want.
Maybe this sounds a little overly simplistic, but the best websites have an explanatory and welcoming homepage, clear navigation, easy access to what visitors want, and all the while a design that enhances, not detracts, and also doesn’t get in the way of the experience.
Because that’s what website design is – it’s an experience.
So what is your customer’s experience in your business online?