Six Key Features of Web Sites That Work (1066 words)
By Joe Dysart
Seasoned etailers realize a Web site is more than just a "billboard in cyberspace." They know the best sites create inviting, easy-to-use environments. Indeed, they're interactive tools where prospects and customers can learn about a company and buy products.
To be sure, a Web site is not a technological homage to yourself, your company or a Web designer. That said, however, showy, forever-to-download sites that are cool but little more than impediments to e-commerce are all too common on the Web. Indeed, the Webscape is littered with them. This article will explore how to avoid adding yours to the heap of Web junk.
"The Web is the ultimate customer-empowering environment. Whoever clicks the mouse gets to decide everything," says Jakob Nielson, a principal in the Nielsen Norman Group (www.nngroup.com), a Web design consultancy. "It's so easy for customers to just go elsewhere; all the competitors in the world are but a mouse click away."
When designing or refreshing your site, start with a good authoring tool that enables you to establish a basic site that can be enhanced with specialty design programs. Two authoring tools that get good reviews are Microsoft FrontPage ($138; www.microsoft.com) and DreamWeaver by Macromedia ($326; www.macromedia.com). Many users say the DreamWeaver authoring program has a steeper learning curve than FrontPage, but that the extra effort is worth it. DreamWeaver is seen by its fans as a more versatile Web-authoring tool.
Web designers recommend that every commercial site include the following six key features.
1. Instant Communication of Purpose
If you're serious about doing business on the Web, you want your pages to serve up fast and clear. That means instantly communicating what you're about, and what you can do for site visitors. And it means forgetting about showy splash-page introductions or elaborate animated introductions that take forever to download.