The first thing you have to know about your website is that it’s not about you!
Well o.k. it might be about you, a bit, but the important point in the context if this discourse is that it is not FOR you.
All too often people build a website to suit their own personal tastes and desires. If the site is a business website then this is a big mistake as most visitors to your site won’t be interested in you and your tastes, rather they’re interested in themselves and what they want.
The Internet is a very self serving space, if a visitor doesn’t see something that meets their interest straight away on your website in a single click they can be off somewhere else and you’ve lost them.
Even if you do grab a visitors initial interest if, once they start to read your content, they find a text that is all about you (or your business) written from your point of view they will quickly lose interest.
Now that isn’t to say that your website shouldn’t literally be about you or your business. Indeed there would be little point in having your own website if it wasn’t. Rather it is that you must present yourself or your business from the users point of view.
So you have to imagine yourself as one of your sites visitors, what do they want? What do they like?
It is the age old marketeers maxim: Present benefits not features.
Consider these two ways of telling site visitors that your accommodation has the largest rooms in Orkney.
“We have the most spacious comfortable rooms in Orkney”.
“You will enjoy the space and comfort of the largest rooms in Orkney”.
See what I mean. It’s about the visitor, in this case both website and business, not the vendor.
Similarly it can be easy to get carried away with trendy flashing graphics, slideshows and any other assortment of animated bells and whistle (speaking of which, I’ll elaborate on why you should probably not include sound on your website later).
Unless you’re a web or graphics designer, specifically showing of your skill at producing these features, these features should be used sparingly if at all.
As before ask yourself if the inclusion of a given feature will make your website better or easier to use for your visitor.
Don’t get me wrong the occasional bit of window dressing can liven up a website, just ask yourself critically if it is an improvement to the page or just a distraction.
If the answer is yes, then go with it.
I said I’d come back to music/sounds. We’ve all had that experience I’m sure where you surfing the world wide web following links from one website to the next as you explore items/subject that catch your interest to suddenly get blown out of your chair by a website with loud background music that you didn’t ask for an weren’t expecting.
It really is very rare, unless your website is specifically music related, that instant background music is desirable. I have implemented websites that include audio, but it is always best to invite the visitor to play the audio rather than just throw it at them whether they want it or not.
Back to where we started, forget that it’s about what your visitors wants at your peril. When I visit a website that makes me jump out of my skin I just hit the back button. I’m sure most do. How many take the trouble to turn down their PCs speakers to return and how many just go somewhere else. You’ll never know.