Web Design Definition - Feb 2005

Smart web design gives your website a definition.

On your own website, it's obvious to you what your company does and what your web site is all about.
At 12website.com we are careful, visitors to
our website can identify we are web design sunshine coast and all the associated services relating to web design. These include domain names, website hosting, ecommerce, web shops, search engine placement, web translations and web site marketing. However, the odds are high that your visitors to your website homepage won't automatically know what your web site is all about the first time they come to your site.

It's up to you to sum things up for your visitors so they can immediately understand the basic focus of your company or organization, as well as the services you offer.

This is critical for the web designer to understand and design your website accordingly. That's where a site definition comes in. A site definition is a concise, objective statement explaining what a site does. (If the term "site definition" is new to you - it's basically a one-sentence summary of the focus of the site.

Sometimes, you can get away with a super short definition. For example, the definition on our company's website (http://www.12website.com) is just three words: "Working web design".

The site definition should generally appear in the upper left corner of the page near the logo. It shouldn't be an obtrusive part of the web design, but it should definitely be available for visitors to see.

Placing a site definition on your pages has two benefits. The first one is for yourself:
A site definition helps you stay focused. When you force yourself to summarize your purpose in a single sentence, it's a 3-second, easy-to-remember plan for where your website needs to go and what you need to work toward in your own planning for your web site. This can help prevent you from getting off track and winding up with a disorganized, unfocused site.

The second benefit is for your website visitors. A site definition explains in a single phrase the basics of what visitors can find on your site. This is crucial, since many visitors will not have a clear understanding of what your company does. Your copy can help with this somewhat, but sales copy is generally unobjective, and it can take a while for the visitor to understand what it is you're selling. Although it is important to have sales-oriented copy, sometimes visitors just feel like saying, "But what do you DO?"

Here are three tips for writing an effective site definition:

1. Be objective.

If you aren't objective in your definition, the definition will lose credibility. Avoid saying things like "We're number 1!" A site definition is not the place to use persuasive, hyped-up language.

2. Be specific.

A definition isn't the same as a tagline. Taglines are usually catchy phrases that don't necessarily help visitors understand your services. For example, Nike's tagline is "Just do it." This phrase doesn't actually define anything, so it doesn't help visitors understand the company.

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3. Don't use jargon.

If you use terms that don't make sense to your visitors, the definition isn't going to help, because the definition itself will have to be defined. Try not to use words that aren't part of everyday English.

The exception would be if you know your target audience will understand some jargon. For example, if you have a website geared toward programmers, it's ok to use the term PHP. Although that term isn't an everyday word to most people, it is an everyday word to a programmer.

There are a few cases in which you probably wouldn't need a site definition. Occasionally, a site's main page makes it so obvious what the site sells that a definition isn't really necessary. However, this is rare, even for well-designed sites. It's difficult to explain what your site is all about as clearly and succinctly as you can with a definition.

A site definition would also not be necessary if your domain name is very descriptive. For example, petproducts.com.au. These domains give a fairly good indication of the services provided on those sites.

Aside from these exceptions, most other sites would benefit from a clear, concise definition. What's yours?

If you have a quick look at this websites you will immediately see the website definition, www.cleanmachine.net.au.

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12website.com has prepared the supplied information as a voluntary service to the online community. The information is necessarily web design and small business in nature and is not intended to be relied upon other than as general background material. This should not be used as specific advice, recommendations or guidance, and specialist assistance should be sought by anyone in need of such help. 12website.com accepts no liability under any circumstances for any loss, expense, damages or costs whether direct or indirect (including loss of profits / damage to business) which may be incurred by any person as a result of relying on or using in whole or in part any of the supplied information.