A great website isn’t so great if no one uses it. On the other hand, if your site is easy to use, it can be your most powerful marketing tool – generating leads, prospects and new clients.

When it comes to web design, there’s one factor that always outweighs every other: usability. Usability is about making your advisor site as easy to use as possible – that means navigating through your site and, most importantly, being able to find the right information at the right time. (Full disclosure: My company helps advisors improve their websites' usability and other features.)

Usability is crucial because web users are very impatient. Nine times out of 10, visitors will give up and leave if they can’t find what they’re looking for within a few seconds.

One of the most successfully usable websites on the Internet is Google. There’s little opportunity for visitors to be distracted and lots of white space. Actually, Google users only have one option when they arrive to the website: typing in the search box and then selecting, “search.”

So, how can you learn from Google’s simplistic design and create a user-friendly website of your own?  Here are two elements that should be effortless for your web visitors:

1. Seamless Navigation

Great navigation is based on three factors: a simple structure, easy-to-find and consistent placement and the inclusion of a search box.

When visitors arrive to your site, usually they’re looking for specific information like your credentials, services or contact information. If the navigation options of your advisor website are not clear and easy to find, don’t expect visitors to search around.

2. Mobile Accessibility

Microsoft, like other tech leaders, predicts that more people will be accessing the Internet from a mobile device than from a PC by 2014. That’s why it’s essential for your advisor site to be accessible from a mobile device like an iPhone or tablet.

The best mobile advisor websites list the most important information at the top of the page (contact info and navigation menu). Make sure the text is easy to read and the site can be navigated using your thumbs.

Web expert Steve Krug said it best with his book on web usability: Don’t Make Me Think. Krug explains that the best websites are navigated with almost no thought processes.

“Using a site that doesn’t make us think about unimportant things feels effortless, whereas puzzling over things that don’t matter to us tends to sap our energy and enthusiasm – and time,” says Krug.

Web visitors arrive at your site seeking valuable and compelling information – but if they can’t find it quickly, don’t expect them to search for it.

Maggie Crowley is the marketing coordinator for Advisor Websites where she manages the company's online presence and specializes in developing inbound marketing strategies. Email Maggie at maggiec@advisorwebsites.com or visit www.advisorwebsites.com.

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