There are almost as many ideas about great web design as their great web designers and that is for good reason – there is no one set of rules to follow for great website design. However, there are a few key principles that you should follow to ensure that your site projects the image you want and generates the results you need. These 6 key elements will help you projects the image you want and generates real results for your business.
Why do I want a site?
Firstly – know what you want to achieve from the site. Too many people find a website design they like the look of without any thought for whether it will create the outcome that they want.
For example, if you are building a site that is designed to get your phone ringing, then you have to ensure that the design of the site is suitable for that purpose. Also if you are building an e-commerce site then you have to ensure that your site is designed to showcase your products and services in the right way.
The type of site you build to generate phone calls to a sales team is very different to one that will encourage people to visit your store. These are factors that need to be taken into account what deciding on your design strategy.
Branding & Design
Like everything you do within your business it has to be lead by the brand image and brand philosophy of your company. If your site is a heavy industrial business then your site styling and imagery has to match the industry your are in as well as the expectations of the industry your are targeting. Both have to be in alignment. Similarly, if you’re running a local café then you don’t want to create a site with a heavy industrial feel, you need to create a warm cosy feel to your site.
Layout & Imagery
When you layout your site you want to remember that people will expect certain information in specific places. Things like the menu – currently the expectation is that the main site menu will be on the top of every page with secondary menus in the sidebar if you have a need for one.
Also there will be an expectation that they will be able to find exactly what they are looking for in just a couple of clicks – don’t leave them searching! Make sure your navigation is intuitive and easy – so that your visitors are never more than 3 clicks away from the information they are looking for.
Imagery is also a key part of the layout – make sure that the imagery you choose matches the subject of the page or location on the page. For example, if you have an image with a link to another page on the site, have an image that is logical for the destination content.
Usability & User Experience
Get feedback on the user experience of your site – get people that will be brutally honest with you to run through the site and tell you what they think of it and how easy it was for them to navigate. Preferably ensure that these people are typical of the type of visitors you are expecting to come to your site. If your site is an e-commerce site then ensure that you have no more than 3 clicks to the order button and try to implement a 1-click order process for registered users.
Speak To Them
One key factor when building a site is to make it as accessible as possible to everyone that is likely to be interested in your industry and become a potential customer. This can often include people that are new to your industry or unfamiliar with the terminology that may be commonplace for you. Wherever possible avoid jargon and acronyms and stick to plain language.
Choose your words carefully – ensure that you are talking to your customer about the benefits your products and services can provide them – they only care about you once they are considering ordering from your, until then they only care about themselves and their needs – remember that! So talk about your customer in their terms – the words ‘you and your’ should be used at least twice as much as the words ‘we and our’ across your site.
Keep It Fresh
Designs that looked great just 3 years ago will probably be tired and out-dated today. Like fashion, your brand needs to be kept fresh or you risk being left behind by those around you that are. The Internet is a fast moving place, where yesterday’s designs can make you look old-hat very fast. Whether your business is a company selling into a dry scientific community or a local restaurant, your online image will determine the perceived value of your products and service.
If your website design looks old-hat then that is the perception your will give.
By following these 6 key elements you will get a site that is right for you, right for your customers and right for your bottom line. The only thing worse than a poorly designed website is no website at all, so take steps today to ensure your website meets the expectations of your market and the philosophy of your brand.