Nowadays, a Web Designer has a seemingly infinite amount of resources and tools at their fingertips. With so many options for every single little detail, it can be difficult to even figure out where to start. Furthermore, it might be equally as difficult to decide when your project is finished. Web Design has become a field that is flooded with plug-ins and add-ons. What is that balance between too much and not enough? This list is meant to guide you through the various decisions you’ll have to make when designing your website. These 10 tips will ensure that your site is straightforward, clean, and most importantly, easy to use.
Although it may seem like a good idea to have a flashy Navigation Toolbar, loaded with links to other pages and possibly even other sites, it’s best to have a simple, straightforward system for navigating your site. If there are too many options available on your Navigation Toolbar, how is a visitor to your site supposed to know which links are most important? In fact, if it’s completely over-complicated it may cause that visitor to just leave your site all together. For instance, if your website is losangelespizzaburritos.com, but you have links to food and drink vendors outside of the Los Angeles area visible on your homepage, your website will appear confusing and unfocused. Instead, it might be best to have only links to a Menu page, an About Us page, and a Contact Us page visible on the home screen so that your site is easy to navigate. Then you can provide links to less important information via those main pages. Visitors are much more likely to spend more time on your site if it is easier to navigate.
2.) Don’t Type Endless Blocks of Text
As we saw above, simplicity is the key to making your website accessible. Big blocks of can be intimidating and, more often than not, deter someone from reading what you’ve typed. It is generally a good rule of thumb to type smaller text entries, so they can be read and understood quickly. Of course, this doesn’t apply to blogs, news sites, etc. However, these kinds of sites should still keep in mind that these days, hardly anyone wants to read a block of text that spans the length of multiple scrolls. Never forget that websites allow us to combine all sorts of multimedia and that we should utilize what tools we can. For example, you can up lengthy text blocks with pictures or videos. Perhaps you can feature a condensed version of the writing on your page, with a link to the full version in it. Once again, the goal is to present a straightforward website. Don’t use the home page to feature a full-length post which takes up all of the space. Keep the home page simple and feature links to articles so that a visitor may choose to explore your site on their own.
3.) Do Provide Client Testimonials and Reviews
Studies show that people are inclined to do what other people are doing. Therefore, it may be beneficial to show that your site is favored by others. Ask your customers to write reviews about their experience with you so that you may post it to your site. The more influential the person behind the testimony is, the more weight it will carry. For instance, a celebrity endorsement of your site would bring you more trust and more traffic. Social media sites make it easy for you to openly display your following. If you have a lot of followers on Facebook or Instagram, make sure you show that on your website, as it also establishes trust. Lastly, you might display any awards and association memberships your company might have, as those also reaffirm your community’s trust in you. It is easier to display these various forms of social affirmation on your website than it ever has been before. Use that ability to your advantage to showcase your trustworthiness.
4.) Don’t Be Afraid to Use Common Design Templates
New Web Design options and possibilities are developed just about every day. However, your website doesn’t have to feature cutting-edge web technology to be effective. Different can be good, but too different can end up being downright unfamiliar, and you want web users to feel right at home on your site. Visitors to your site should be able to explore it without having to learn how it works first. Basic design templates, when utilized well, can feel familiar and straightforward, without falling short. For example, you can look at our own website and see that the design isn’t necessarily groundbreaking. The layout is immediately recognizable and thus, understandable. However, it’s still unique in that it is our website, with our own content. Not to toot our own horn, but we at Websites Makeover like to think that our website is a prime example of how a website’s design can be both easy to use and engaging.
5.) Do Use Simple Language Throughout Your Site
Use words that you know visitors to your site will understand. Don’t convolute your content with industry-specific jargon, big words, or complex run-on sentences. Assume that the average web user is of the average literacy. Use expected words in labels on toolbars and navigational links. The label, “Contact Us”, is expected and thus, understood much easier than “Company Correspondence” might be. Elevated and overly complex language discourages web browsers from engaging in your content. If your writing is simple, it is accessible.
6.) Don’t Forget About Whitespace!
If you don’t already know, whitespace is—yep—the space between objects on your web page. Macro whitespace refers to the space between large compositional elements, such as a page title and a navigational toolbar. On the other hand, micro whitespace can be as small as the space between letters or just the space between a picture and it’s caption. If there is not enough whitespace, your web page will appear to be cluttered and maybe even unorganized. However, if there is too much whitespace, your web page will look sparse and unfulfilled. The former is much more likely to be a problem than the latter is, as many web designers like to show off their skills instead of producing a half-finished website. The key is to tastefully provide enough space for your website to look clean and organized. If there is not enough space between letters and lines of text, the content will not be legible. Whitespace can also be utilized to provide a balanced form of text, in terms of margins, line spacing, and alignment.
7.) Do Improve the Quality of Your Images
Original and interesting images are crucial to engaging visitors to your site. Free stock images are okay to start with, but they will only get your website so far. They often border on cliché and have most likely already been featured on countless other websites. There are many stock image companies that you can subscribe to for upgraded imagery, which will appear fresh on your site. Another option is to use images created by yourself or a commissioned artist, so that they will be entirely original to your website. Photographs, drawings, and digital designs can all be utilized this way, to provide your site with unique and engaging content. Web users are naturally much more attracted to a distinct and original image than they are to the same stock images we all see on a regular basis.
8.) Don’t Use a Bunch of Different Fonts and Colors
Once again, the goal is for your website to be simple, straightforward, and uniform. Using different fonts and colors in every section of your homepage will make it look random and ultimately, unappealing. Instead, choose an aesthetic and stick to it. Give yourself a palette of 3-4 colors at the most and make sure that they don’t clash too badly. Some of the best websites only use a few colors. Facebook for example, has an iconic design which only uses blue toolbars, white backgrounds, and black/white text. The same goes for font styles; too much variety will seem random. It’s best to stick to 1-2 fonts per page. Instead of expressing your artistic creativity, the goal of your website’s should be to display your company’s consistency and unity.
9.) Do Ensure That Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
In this day and age, it is impossible to ignore the fact that many web users use their mobile devices to access websites. In fact, a study from 2015 showed that Smartphones have become the “most popular way to browse [the] internet.” It’s been shown that many websites are even implementing a “mobile-first” web design, which prioritizes the site’s mobile experience over any other format. If your website’s design isn’t compatible with a mobile format, you are losing out on a huge amount of potential traffic. You may decide to simply make your website’s desktop format adjust to fit a mobile format when accessed through such a device, or to offer a completely different mobile version of your website. No matter which route you take, at the end of the day, you must be confident that your website is still easy to use when it is accessed by a mobile device.
10.) Don’t Forget to Link Your Social Media Pages
Social Media websites are essentially free marketing tools for your websites. If you don’t provide links to your social media pages, then how are potential clients supposed to like or follow your page? Using an earlier example, assume that I am interested in following Los Angeles Pizza Burritos on Instagram, but they don’t have a link to their profile from their website. I do a search for them and find a profile titled @LApizzaburritos and I follow it, only to discover that it is the Louisiana branch of the Pizza Burritos company. Having a direct link from your website will eliminate the possibility of these kinds of problems. On the other hand, don’t forget to use your social media pages to point your followers towards your website. Social media can be an indispensable asset, if it is utilized well.