Monday, February 16, 2009

Design A Website That All Your Visitors Can Use

by Scott Lindsay

How many customers are you losing every day in your ecommerce website? I suppose every business owner expects some customer loss, but did you know you could be losing more customers than you may have realized?

Tim Berners-Lee is credited with creating the Worldwide Web and he always envisioned an online experience that would be usable to all online visitors. This vision included individuals with a variety of handicaps.

While there are web applications that allow vision and hearing impaired visitors to use websites, many site designers do very little to help these individuals navigate their website.

Interestingly one of the key factors that minimize effective use of an ecommerce website design is an over produced website with multi navigational tabs. A growing number of baby boomers and senior citizens are using the web and the use of a site that is difficult to navigate makes the site essentially 'off limits' to these potential customers who often leave in frustration.

Consider these financial facts from the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey.

* The 50 and older have $2.4 trillion in annual income, which accounts for 42% of all after-tax income.

* Adults 50 and older account for an estimated $1 trillion+ in total expenditures in 2005.

* Consumers 50 and older own 65% of the net worth of all U.S. households.

The demographic for those over the age of fifty find a consumer base with the most disposable income, increased buying power and this demographic often provides an increased level of brand loyalty.

Interestingly television networks have essentially turned their back on this demographic by providing program geared to viewers 35 and younger.

It is possible that web design could benefit by remembering a demographic who may have an interest in purchasing products or services from your website as long as you make sure to provide a means of accessing the website in a way that is attractive yet easily accessible.

Many websites rely on flash design. In a scenario in which you are seeking the age 50+ consumers you may want any flash you provide to be instructional on the use of the site. However, you may be better served by using straightforward text and graphics and by simplifying the steps your customers must use to make a purchase.

"In most [web design] projects, accessibility has fairly low priority because project managers underestimate the number of people who are impacted by design problems." Jakob Neilson

If you can make your web design appealing and easily accessible you will find all your customers being able to maximize the pleasure of the visit and may likely develop into repeat customers.

About the Author

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