When it comes to the internet there are lots of good websites out there, a few great ones and of course many, many shockingly bad ones.
So how can you avoid ending up with a stinker?
Whether you’re creating a new business website from scratch or redesigning an existing one, here are some top design tips to give your website visitors a great experience and keep them coming back for more.
Jot down some ideas. Don’t jump in feet first – write down some realistic goals that you want the website to achieve e.g. increase sales, raise brand awareness, expand sales distribution. Scribble them down on the side of your newspaper or napkin. The format isn’t important but the fact you thought about your goals is invaluable. Then keep these in mind as you go through the design process.
Marketing budget. From the beginning have a sensible marketing budget in mind, not forgetting that this needs to include more than just the website. Once your website has been developed or redesigned, you need to shout about it. Perhaps you have an existing customer base that you can email or you may be a new start looking to purchase advertising to attract customers. Whatever the case, you will need to market your website to attract visitors.
Design a site for its visitors. Who will be visiting the website and why? What do you need to provide to get your message across and help potential customers progress to the next step? The website should convey trust and professionalism. Make it easy for visitors to find what they need particularly your contact information which should be present on every page in some format.
Send a clear message. Say what you do clearly and boldly at the top of your website homepage. We are all busy creatures with very little time and even less attention span. Visitors to the website must be able to quickly determine if they are in the right place to get what they are looking for so your design should reflect this by delivering just the right content where it is needed. This is true for all pages in your website. They should look and feel consistent with your overall business brand.
Colours and fonts. Remember the first time you used PowerPoint to create a presentation? Backgrounds, multi-coloured text, a different font for each header and oh yes, Word Art. Good times and so were the 60’s but today’s great web designs are simpler with reduced colour palettes, good contrasts and a couple of well used font types throughout. The best contrast for reading large amounts of copy is black text on a white background but whatever combinations you use make sure the text has a high contrast against the background. Use bold and italics sparingly and avoid underlining text or risk confusing it with URL links. Stick with one or two fonts at most and carry them through the entire site using one for a lead title and the other for the body text. Remember that certain fonts may have licensing fees associated with distribution (uploading to your web server).
Flash intros, blinking text, waving animated clip art, page counters and background music. Definitely not!!
Graphics and layout. Well placed good quality graphics will enhance the overall page design but getting the balance right is critical. Unless your graphic is relevant to the content of the web page or brand message then drop it. Make sure all graphics are optimised for the smallest size they need to be and use separate smaller thumbnails if required rather than resizing the original. This will help to reduce page loading times. Unless you’re going for the quirky look, try keeping to some layout conventions to make visitors feel comfortable when navigating through the site. Use headers and the top screen area for the most important information, footers for copyrights and additional links. Put the main site navigation towards the top of the page and related information preferably in a vertical RHS column.
SEO. The overall design of the site should make it easy for search engines to pick up on the website content and well placed keywords and phrases. Think about the website file structure and naming conventions for web pages as these all play an important factor in SEO. Consider keeping related pages together in a folder and name your web pages and articles appropriately.
Keep your visitors interested with a clean, simple, vibrant website design that has plenty of relevant, useful and readable content.
Remember we’ve only just scratched the surface with some of the basics of web design. Creating a great website takes time, work and energy with ongoing activities such as competitor and visitor analysis, SEO, Social Media marketing and viral content growth.
Using a professional web design company like Gravitational FX Web Design will help you achieve those realistic website goals and let you get on with running your business.