Don't obsess over your stats

If you have a website, then you should have stats for it - your web designer will probably have provided them for you.

There are lots of different programs out there that will give you web statistics, and many are free. One of the most popular is Google Analytics, because it means going right to the source and (in theory) getting the best data. Also, because of Google's humungous budget, Analytics has a lot of fancy graphics and functionality.

The kind of data you get can be anything from how many visitors your site gets to what time of day they came, how long they stayed, which pages they visited and in what order, what country they're in, how they came across your site and much, much more.

It's important to check out your stats and keep and eye on them, because the information can be used to fine tune your site and gauge performance.

However, it's easy to become obsessed with these numbers. This is bad idea for several reasons. First of all, traffic doesn't directly translate into sales. Revenue and profit are much more important - if you have millions of visitors, but no sales, then you have nothing.

Secondly, while you're analysing your stats, you are not spending time on more important things, such as running or promoting your business.

Finally, if you're looking too closely at your stats in an attempt to increase traffic, then the chances are you'll start being tempted to 'game' the system by tweaking, rather than focussing on just creating quality and value for your customers. As Google is constantly updating their algorithm and trying to make it even better at returning good results, SEO work based on complicated link text targetting, keyword density and the like is going to be fragile and could come tumbling down at any moment. Whereas, good quality content is robust and should stand the test of time.

Sentiva offer web design services in Leeds.

Top 5 Tips for beginning web designers

Here are our top five tips for web designers who are just starting out:

Keep it Simple

It can be tempting to put something in just because you can, not because it's right. This tends to lead to animated gifs, flash banners, scrolling marquee tags, loads of different fonts and basically a horrible mess that is a confusing turn off for visitors. Try to avoid including anything that doesn't have a clear purpose, and keep the design clean and simple.

Check the website on a range of browsers

Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and  Chrome all interpret code is slightly different ways and it's worth checking your design on each of them to make sure nothing breaks. These days lots of people use mobiles to view websites as well, so check its not impossible on a smaller screen.

Focus on the visitor

Your starting point should be what the visitor wants, not what you want to tell them. This means being careful about using jargon or any terms or concepts they might not understand, and thinking about their objectives and how they might move around your site.

Make sure the structure and navigation is clear and consistent

The main navigation should be identical on every page, and ideally every page should be able to be reached from the main navigation. If there are a lot of pages, then use dropdowns. The exception is if you have large resource banks or ecommerce stores with hundreds of pages, but in this case consistency and clarity is even more important.

Don't have autoplaying music

This is one of the biggest turn-offs for visitors, who might be browsing at work, or at the very least might be playing their own music, which yours will conflict with.

For more advice about good and bad web design and SEO, check out our resource bank.

If you're looking to hire a web designer - click here.

Don't be the invisible person on your own website

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to pay a lot of money for a website but then hide your contact details away.

This is a shortened version of the full article about making sure your contact details are clear, which you can read here.

Your phone number should be a clear beacon, immediately visible above the fold (preferably at the top of the page) in large font that can be read even by those who are partially sighted. Especially by those who are partially sighted. They are the ones who need it most as they will find it frustrating to browse the website.

You should offer an email address and get a decent junk mail filter to deal with the spam that is inevitable from publishing an email address on the internet. You can also take steps to obfuscate your email address from robot crawlers. Not offering an email address because you're afraid of spam is like slamming your door in people's faces. Not good.

And you should also have an enquiry form on the contact page (or even at the side of all pages), as some people prefer having the guidance of little boxes to fill in, because they don't want to expend the brain power involved in composing an email from scratch. And who are you to argue?

And finally, you could offer an online chat service but you need to be careful with this or it could do more harm than good. If it's constantly unavailable, or if the people take ages to reply (possibly because they're trying to deal with too many chats at the same time) and leave your customer sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for a response, or if your customer service agents are impolite or abrupt, then your customers will be turned off.

By utilising all these methods (effectively), you give people every option they could desire and reduce the likelihood of them getting turned off and heading to one of your competitors instead.

If you liked this blog post, you might like to read our article on Five elements of great web design or web design and colour.

Sentiva web design make websites, software and mobile apps.