The effect of fashion on a website
What prompted me to blog about website fashions, was visiting a fishmonger’s website after finding them on Twitter. The only useful information on the opening page is their name, and the city and district they are in. The image is very generic, with the tail of a fish, some cutlery and sprigs of greenery, and some fishing-related items – nothing which informs our opinion of this particular fishmonger.
Where’s the navigation?
Then I noticed, at the bottom right-hand corner of the page, the navigation … five links in white 14px text. This is a bit small, and a very unusual place for website navigation. As I scrolled down, the navigation slid to the top of the page.
Being unconventional like this can be confusing and distracting for your visitors … and we shouldn’t be doing that to our potential customers.
The ‘one-page’ five-page website
This site is following another fashion – a single long website page. All the navigation links are anchors for a point further down the page. This fashion is quite common on US websites, which can have forty or fifty screens full of information in a single page. There may be benefits on small screens where it’s easy to scroll down with the flick of a finger. But watch someone doing that, and they often have to scroll back up again after they speed past what they are looking for.
One significant disadvantage of the single-page approach is that you’re only giving Google a single page to index.
And now the conclusion
Pulling these two Website Fashion blogs together, what can we say about website fashion, and our fishmonger?
The fishmonger –the cold hard marble slab of reality
Let’s consider our fishmonger, and all the other potential clients. He has gone to a website company, and they have shown him some possible designs. These are based on templates, though they may not tell him this. In this case, it’s the no-longer-available free ‘Star Café’ Divi Child Theme on WordPress. They explain their idea for the main image, and the content they’re going to add.
The client is impressed as it all looks very snazzy. The website company likes this as they can charge a nice fat fee for a site which costs them very little to produce.
Nobody talks about what information potential clients will want to see, or if they’ll be able to find it. Everyone knows Google will index it, and they will be found on local searches because there are so few fishmongers. But that’s not very ambitious.
The designer – the slow tumble off the internet catwalk
Fashion is design-led – to you and me, that’s what it looks like on the outside. Take a look at some of the models on the catwalk … the garments might look impressive, but how easy would it be to go to the shops in those creations? If something is design-led, there is the danger that it won’t work very well.
Visit a website that has an initial wow-factor. Now look for the information you need. Is it easy to find using the navigation? Are you distracted by sliding panels and moving images? Do you have trouble reading the text because the fashion dictates a light grey colour?
There are countless thousands of website templates. They are nearly all generic except for the images included in the demo. These images are used to market templates to particular sectors of business. These templates have a limited set of layout options which the authors hard code into it. They are designed to look good, rather than be tailored to an individual business or to deliver visitor engagement.
How should you approach commissioning a new website?
- Don’t be a slave to fashion (ever heard that before?).
- Ask you web company how the website is going to engage your potential customers and turn them into paying customers.
- Check they are building a site for you … look at their portfolio to see if they major in off-the-peg designs.
- Try to see the site through the visitor’s eyes, looking for the information they need to become one of your customers.
WEB-right’s Pay-as-you-Go websites
We build each new website from the ground up to match your business needs. We’ll ask you to show us some websites you do and don’t like, because it’s important your website captures and expresses your business’s personality.
We’ll guide you through the process and answer all your questions. It’s important you understand how your potential customers will engage with your new website, what Google is looking for, and how these two requirements interact.
And we give you the tools to keep your content updated, so your website doesn’t get covered in cobwebs.