November 9, 2007

"Webmasters need to stop focusing on the look of their website, and start focusing on the purpose."

Try to remember your favorite looking website. Remember some of the cool effects or colors they used. I'm not talking about a website you visit daily like your favorite blog. I'm talking about a website you maybe only visited once, but remember something about it because of it's unique design.

Now, try to remember a website that you learned a lot from. It can be any website, as long as you left the website with new knowledge or a new understanding for something.

Which website do you remember the purpose of? Which website do you remember the most about?

Remembering is fine and dandy, but what has it got to do with your websites? Let me ask you: is there anything better than a great looking website? Believe it or not: there is.

An effective website, one that has a purpose and provides valuable content, will always be better than a great looking website. That's why web designers and webmasters need to stop focusing on the look of their website, and start focusing on the purpose.

Sure, a website that has a unique design will get noticed, but it won't be remembered for its' content. And if your website isn't being remembered for the content - or purpose - then what's the point of being noticed?

Websites need to first focus on delivering a message, then on design. If the purpose of your website is to sell business cards, you should have a lot of information and pictures of business cards; not a flash intro explaining how your company is number one for international sales.

Fancy effects and unique styles will only get you so far online, but it's the content on your website that will make your visitors remember you and, if you do a great enough job, keep coming back.

I recently worked on a website design for a company that wanted a new website, something that didn't look like anything already out there. While the design was sure to make visitors go "ooh" and "ahh," it wasn't enough to make a sale through the website. Visitors are almost guaranteed to forget what the website was about, let alone visit it for the purpose again (they may visit it to look at the design, but not when they need something from the company).

Looking back at the websites you remembered at the beginning of this article: did the heavy design-focused website do a successful job at imprinting its' purpose in your mind? Or, now that you think of it, would you prefer to visit the information-filled website when you have a question or need a product?

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