Basic website design is not just how the site looks, but its usability, navigation, readability, consistency of layout, color and graphics, and most importantly, does it perform by giving the user valuable information that they are seeking and does it perform for the website owner by converting a visitor into connection to which they can continue to market?

Here are 14 tips that help keep the visitor browsing your website. They are called secret ingredients because they are what make a website effective and successful.

Effectively Communicate: Upon landing on your page, can the visitor get what you are all about and know they are in the right place within about 10 seconds without them having to click around to find out what you offer or worth their time to continue searching for valuable information?

Call to Action: Effective websites are simple, provide exactly what they are all about and guide the user to take action or tell them what to do next.

Contact: A means for the user to contact you by providing a page titled, Contact Us or phone numbers, email links or opt-in forms. A physical address showing your location (if appropriate) mailing address should be included so the user has a good feeling about your authenticity and that you are not simply a cyberspace entity with no real business location.

Simple Navigation: Navigation tabs are a must and should be consistent from page to page. A “home” link on every page will allow the visitor to reorient themselves if they get lost.

Site Map: Not only essential for proper indexing of the website by search engines, but having a link somewhere in your navigation will allow the user to see the entire website’s organization quickly and browse your structure to help find what they are looking for or to find other useful content.

Fast Page Load: Users will not wait for a slow loading website. The home page should be optimized for a fast load time.

Working links and images: Not only does it take away from your message, broken links and poor images reduce your credibility, and you’ll lose both visitors and sales.

Consistency Between Image and Intent: A website that sells women’s shoes that has a header banner image of a female racecar driver is sending an incongruous message.

Readable Text: Fonts that are too faint or blur against the background are hard to read. Keep fonts simple and contrast well with the background.

People Don’t Read, They Skim: Remember that most people do not read word for word all of your text. Give them bullet points, sub headings and short sound bites of information to enhance their experience. Avoid solid walls of text.

Page Length: Keep the most important content “above the fold” or in the upper viewable section of the screen. People do not like to endlessly scroll down a long page to find what is useful. Break your content into subpages with individualized topics and keywords.

Keep Line Length Visible: A sentence that goes off the viewable screen in the browser requires the user to adjust their browser. Keep text in narrow blocks so it is all readable. Think of how short the sentences are in an email.

Page Width: Many people have the newer wide format screens, but that doesn’t mean you should design the site to be 1200 pixels wide. Somewhere between 950-1000 should be the target width of most websites with the exception for a landing page or a sales page that may be designed to read like a 8 ½” x 11 letter or other more condensed format. Test the site in different browsers.

Conversion: How will you know if the website is meeting expectations? Does the website do what its intended? Does it convert visitors into leads and prospects? Does it generate revenue? Does it rank well in search engines? You must set up some form of Analytics in order to track visitors, page views, click through rates, etc. so you can make changes to optimize the effectiveness of the site.