May 13th, 2010 | Bill McIntosh, Founder

Doing research on website design can be one of the most frustrating experiences anyone can have.

The conversation will usually drift very quickly away from the purpose of the website to the “look” of the website.

A graphic designer is a designer in the ‘artistic’ sense. And though most of these professionals are extremely good at making works of art,they are for the most part not experts in controlling the actions of the visitor once he arrives at your website.

Case in point: I was recently speaking with a successful business owner. This business owner is a very aggressive marketer and advertiser,(offline) and drove many people directly to his store.

We got onto the subject of the company website and how they just weren’t happy with the online business they were getting.

He has 150 visitors a day(all from his local market!) A fantastic number!

He gets less than 6 calls a day !

That is unthinkable.

I asked to see the website and just as I thought, the “design” was based on animation, flash technology,bells and whistles, lots of graphics that had me drifting all over the place. I was looking at the header then watching the scrolling images go shooting by. Then my attention was grabbed and a little wheel started turning in the lower left hand corner…I was quickly overwhelmed.

The business owner was very proud and told me that it had cost him a pretty penny (I won’t mention how much but…ARGHHH, it angered me !).

He just could not understand why he got no calls from his website. After all the Designer had put every attention grabbing piece of technology on the site ? He didn’t understand !!

I then did something very mean. Yes very mean, I asked him,”What do you want your visitors to do when they arrive at your website?”

He immediately answered me,”I want them to call me!”

I then lowered the boom, “Where is your phone number?”

He immediately said “Oh it is over here!” he then took his cursor and ran it up to the top left hand corner of the site where yes, there was the phone number…in 9 point font, tiny, in a color that made it fade into the background color of the header.

He then said, ” This is where the designer had room left over for it once he was done designing the website.”

It took a couple of beats but then he got it. “Oh my God ” he said.” I want my visitors to call meĀ  but I have hidden the phone number!”

This type of design flaw is very common, too common these days. Website designers too often ignore the function and purpose of the website as they get excited and interested in the artistic value. This isn’t a diatribe on designers at all, they do make very interesting sites.

A website should be aesthetic and pleasant to look at, but it’s first and foremost goal is to get the visitor to take action. And that action must be in the direction of buying a product or service.

Image by KristianD.