With today’s web design, the sky’s the limit. There’s no end of fantastic styles to choose from and functionality is better than ever. Whatever your needs there’ll be a design that’s perfect for your purposes.
But it takes some careful planning.
The key to an effective website is simplicity and usability, so read on for 10 top tips to get you the best possible site.
1. Plan, plan, plan
Before you start ask yourself the following initial questions:
- Do I know my target audience?
- What are my brand values?
- What messages do I want to convey?
- Have I the right brand tone of voice?
- How many pages does my website need?
- What’s my budget?
- What are my timescales?
- Can I write the copy myself?
- Should I design the website myself or bring in a professional?
It pays to be honest here. Your website will be most peoples’ first port of call so it has to make a good impression. Don’t rush it.
Plan each page the way you would want your potential customers to see it. And in terms of the written content research keywords and phrases for inclusion on every page. But don’t go overboard with them; search engines are not fans of keyword stuffing.
Once you’ve a clear website design plan, you’re ready to go.
2. Keep it clutter-free
No one likes a busy website. We have short attention spans and if we have to search through tons of text and umpteen messy web pages for the important stuff, we’re going to move on to a company with a cleaner, neater, more user-friendly site. Clutter-free is infinitely more professional.
Keep it coherent by only offering what people need to know. A great web page will have attention-grabbing headings and subheadings, lots of white space and carefully placed images. Users should have no problem navigating your site and won’t have to wade through dozens of pages to make a purchase.
3. Adopt a visual hierarchy
In a similar vein to the previous tip, visual hierarchy refers to the visual elements of your website and how the placement of titles, text and images can influence how people use your site. Compelling content is important but how you place it on the page is just as crucial to the success of your site.
For example, you can draw the eye to important information by using large titles. A well-designed ‘Call to action’ button can increase engagement. Clever text and image placement will encourage the average site scanner to spend more time on your website. Ideally, each page of your website will be easy to skim.
4. Decide on a colour scheme
For consistency, your business branding should dictate your website colour scheme. Why? Users will immediately connect your business with your website if they recognise your branding, and vice versa. And while we’re on the subject the same should apply to your social media and other marketing. Consistency is vital for brand recognition.
A successful colour palette shouldn’t consist of more than three colours, otherwise it risks looking messy. It should also accurately reflect the type of business you own. For example, if you’re in the financial sector and your brand is authoritative, think about using the colours green and black. If health and well-being is your game, calming blues and greens will help build engagement. The rule is that the colours you choose should complement each other and effectively represent your business.
5. Think typography
Typography is all about your text: fonts, text sizing and spacing, and text colour. Think serif, sans serif, script and handwritten. It’s all part of your overall visual hierarchy and thus very important to the overall impression your site will make.
Our advice? Keep it simple.There are loads of online guides to the most up to date fonts and text styles. With a bit of research you’ll find the font that perfectly represents your business. What you shouldn’t do is ‘quirky’. Don’t be tempted to mix and match typography for fun. It will look horrible and massively irritate the viewer.
6. Is it easy to navigate?
A multitude of drop-menus are not the way to go. They’re certainly a crafty way to hide dozens of unnecessary web pages but beyond that they’re only going to make it harder for the user to find what they need.
If you’re organised and you planned your site to the last letter you’ll know exactly how to map out your site for easy navigation. As always, keep it simple. You don’t want to lose your customer at the first hurdle so stick to the traditional top header navigation menu and an efficient search function.
7. Mobile comes first
The majority of browsers search online via mobile so your new website must be mobile-friendly. What looks great on a desktop might look wonky on a smaller screen. Google’s notorious algorithm demands excellent mobile responsiveness so focus on clean design for ease of use; small screens don’t want clutter.
8. Content is king
You’ve created an aesthetically pleasing website but the content is lacking. Browsers want to read top notch content as well as appreciate a good looking site. If you’re not confident enough to pen compelling, converting copy then bring in an expert. Copywriters have the knack of crafting simple copy that engages in super quick time. Your website is no place for long-winded prose, you need to get to the point with entertaining, persuasive text.
Lastly, your copy should look good on the page. Steer clear of walls of text and instead introduce winning headings/subheadings and place your copy in nice, readable blocks that will retain the reader’s attention.
9. Keep your site updated
When people come to your site they are looking for information about you or your business. If they like your site they will come back again. It’s simple.
If you leave your site to stagnate, returning visitors won’t hang around for long. An easy way to refresh your content, and improve your search engine results, is with blogs and news. A fun news story or thought provoking article will give browsers an insight into your business that the everyday, run of the mill content won’t.
Finally, it should go without saying that if you’re selling products, you need to ensure your product information is accurate and up to date.
10. Link to social
For brand consistency make sure your site has easy to find social media buttons. By allowing your browsers to move easily between marketing channels you’re more likely to earn conversions.