Cover Story: How Engaging Is Your Website Design?
Siegel agrees: "In the end, site navigation is still about utility. I caution against getting too fancy. And remember, it's more about function than form."
2. What should you avoid placing in the right rail?
Answer: c) Text modules
Too many text modules in the right rail can be a visitor engagement landmine. Over the years, Web users have come to associate stacks of text modules on the right side of a page with advertising, Siegel says. If you're going to put text there, she explains, make sure it doesn't resemble advertising.
When evaluating page layout, Goosmann looks for "a central focus, or stage, to telegraph the site's primary message, top stories and key takeaways." At the same time, don't overload the page with information, and don't foist advertising on people, he says. "Reflect site hierarchy and emphasize primary actions."
Siegel agrees that the temptation to overstock a page with information and graphics needs to be quashed. Don't try to squeeze all your content above the fold, she adds, because "users understand there will be content beneath the fold."
Be sure to take into account new computer formats. Be ready to program for smartphones, Apple's iPad and other mobile devices, as well as for people who are immersed in social networking, Goosmann says.
One big risk marketers take, especially when resorting to templates, is the "sea of sameness," according to Goosmann. "There are plenty of template pushers that have reduced website design to a commodity, and promise a website in short order—or these days, a Facebook presence," Goosmann says. "Put all your competitors' sites up against each other and look for what will differentiate your site from the rest."
3. How often should promotional content be tested?
Answer: d) All of the above