Why Your Website's Appearance Matters — But Less Than You Think
By Lynn VanDyke
There are many components to a website. Here are a few examples:
1)     Design — the appearance of your site
2)     Navigation
3)     Overall Page Layout
4)     Search Engine Optimization
5)     Voice of Content
6)     Marketing Funnels- opt-ins, auto-responders, and newsletters
7)     Incoming Links
8)     Traffic
9)     Media- audio/visual
10)  Stickiness- how well your site keeps visitors from leaving
But what is design? What types of design are there? Does design matter?
What Is Design?
When I start talking about website design, people "get it." They know exactly what I am talking about. When I start my geeky talk about search engine optimizing and incoming links and XML sitemaps, I tend to lose folks.
Design is probably the most sought-after component of a website. There are countless (and I mean countless) webmasters that design beautiful, fancy, flashy websites. In reality, there are two types of web building firms in the world:
·         Web designers — great at designing but have no clue about search engine optimization (SEO)
·         Optimizers — hardcore geeks that play with pages of code all day long and do not have an artistic bone in their body
Typically, both of these groups have absolutely no idea how to create a direct response website or market a website online or offline.
Design of a website encompasses the colors, website headers, navigation buttons and images. Most websites have a beautiful design to them. And those that do not just look really amateurish, don't they?
What Types of Design Are There?
There are many types of design. Flash (the integration of moving images into web pages) was popular for a few years but appears to be stagnant at the moment. People are realizing that websites in which there is an "intro" are annoying to web surfers. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to enter your website and not harass them with flash introductions.
Another type of design is the standard website template look. These are the free templates from companies such as GoDaddy orRegister.com. You can also purchase pre-made templates from a variety of websites. They may look okay at the start, but once you get in there and start placing your opt-ins for capturing email addresses or services/products for sale, it looks like a big mess. NOTE:Know that many websites built by traditional webmasters and the template websites actually lower the chance of your website showing up on the first page of the search engine listings because of improper coding and/or extraneous coding.
Design also refers to how many columns your website has. Most websites have a one- or two-column layout. This is not ideal, for a few reasons. Mainly, you want as much website "real estate" to be displayed when you visit a page.
So if you have just one column of text, you'll only see so much information before having to scroll down. However, if you have a three column layout, you can place your navigation in the left column, text in the middle column and your MWR (Most Wanted Response — what you want your client to do when they reach your website) in the right column.
If someone comes to visit your website, you only have between one to three seconds to capture their attention. Imagine if they found your website and were immediately notified that you offer a "FREE VIDEO," a "FREE CONSULTATION" or a "FREE E-BOOK!" They are far more likely to stay on your website than click the "back" button. And that's what counts.
Does Design Matter?
Absolutely — but not nearly as much as you may think. It's unfortunate that web designers are flourishing when they really offer no value to their client — you. You fork over a few hundred bucks for a website no one will ever see, one that doesn't even put your MWR in front of your visitor or doesn't capture your visitor's email address.
Finding a balance between that homemade messy look and a beautiful flashy website that no one finds is your mission. People are finding that a healthy balance between web design and SEO is key to their business' success.
The Bottom Line
Having a website that attracts targeted leads, captures their attention, enters them into your marketing funnel and grows your opt-in list is far more beneficial for your business than a flashy website that does nothing.
Lynn VanDyke is an SBI Certified Webmaster and the author of The Ultimate Step-by-Step Lead Generating Website Guide for Fitness Professionals (www.fitnesswebsiteguide.com). Learn more about Lynn and about building a website by visiting her website atwww.personaltrainerwebsitedesign.com.