Are you designing a new website? While it can be tempting to get going, we can’t stress enough how important it is to have a solid plan and logical reasoning behind why you’re doing what you’re doing.
While every website is different, there are some tips for website design – the website design do’s and don’ts as we like to call it – that remain the same when you’re trying to create a site that not only does what you want it to do but also works perfectly for the end-user.
Firstly, the things that you SHOULD do…
Website design: The do’s
1. DO set your objectives before you start
What do you want your website to do? Is it purely for information, or for e-commerce too? Do you want to add customer service elements, like live chat, and will you need users to login?
Planning the logistics means you can create a sitemap to work from, meaning you don’t forget a single thing.
2. DO keep on-brand
Make sure the colours, writing style and typefaces all match your existing brand guidelines. You’ll also want to ensure that all of these elements are consistent across every page of your website: failing to do so could negatively impact on user experience.
3. DO think carefully about navigation
The easier a website is to navigate, the more likely your visitors will stay for longer – and keep coming back. Design your website with this in mind, creating a site that’s intuitive to navigate, is labelled clearly and has good search functionality.
4. DO focus on content
You may create the most beautifully designed website in the world. However, without carefully crafted content to match, the design will be redundant. Every single line of text on your website should be relevant: avoid waffle, which can put visitors off. Be careful, too, of using jargon, which may be hard for some to understand, and could put them off completely.
5. DO incorporate responsive design
There are many ways to access a website – gone are the days when it was desktop or laptop only. Your website should look just as good, and be just as functional, whether viewed on a computer or a mobile device. Your visitors should be able to access all of the information they need with ease, regardless of the device they are using.
6. DO check and test before going live
The smallest of errors can make a big difference in how your website is perceived. Before you go live, double-check that every single link works and that all of your media content loads properly. Proofread your content for grammatical or spelling errors. You may also wish to recruit a small number of users from your target audience to test your website for you: this qualitative feedback can save you time (and downtime) down the line.
Website design: The don’ts
1. DON’T clutter the screen
You’ve no doubt got a lot of information that you want to convey, but adding too much in one place can put users off. This goes for both content and design: pages that are too wordy or backgrounds that are too busy can make visiting a website a less-than-pleasant experience.
2. DON’T forget the importance of imagery
Any images you use on your website will reflect your brand. If you’re using poorly-lit, inferior quality photos that have been taken on an ageing smartphone, your visitors are unlikely to be impressed. Instead, consider using stock images or hire a photographer for some professional shots, and check that the resolution is high enough.
3. DON’T annoy visitors with pop-ups
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t use pop-ups at all. There’s nothing wrong with using pop-up boxes to encourage visitors to sign up to a newsletter, or to alert them to a new offer. The problem with many websites, though, is that these pop-ups appear too soon. If a visitor hasn’t yet had the chance to read a page before a pop-up appears, they’re likely to just close it rather than pay any attention to what it contains.
4. DON’T over-advertise
Sponsored ads and affiliate links are commonly used to increase revenue from a website. If your entire home page is plastered with ads, though, they’ll detract from the actual content – and result in a sensory overload.
If your website takes too long to load, you can guarantee that some of your visitors will click away before they see what you want them to see. Visiting a website should be effortless, and should be able to cope with the low attention spans of internet users. By optimising loading speeds, you’ll not only improve visitor satisfaction, but you should also see a boost in SEO.