Designer drawing website development wireframe

Designer drawing website development wireframe

The key to a company’s survival often rests on its web design. It really is the difference between life and death – which is why it’s vital to create a website with impeccable design.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as chucking a bunch of cool features at a webpage and hoping they’ll come together to create the ultimate-epic-most-awesome website ever. You’ve heard of the phrase, ‘Less is more,’ right? Well, this is true of web design too – more or less…

DO
Think about your message. What is it you’re trying to get across to those people who are blessed with the good fortune to visit your website? Do you want them to buy something from your online shop? If so, make the shop highly visible. If you want them to sign up to your mailing list, put the link somewhere easily accessible. You can’t expect a user to do what you want them to if you make it harder than a paving slab (and just as appealing)!

DON’T
Go SEO-crazy. We’ve all seen websites where they’ve completely lost the plot, missed the point and have spewed up keywords all over the place. Yes, keywords are important. Yes, SEO is not something to overlook. But seriously, you don’t need to repeat yourself 50 times on each page. When your website is ‘www.manchestercleaningcompany.co.uk’ you don’t need every sentence to start with, “As a cleaning company in Manchester, we clean houses in Manchester…”

DO
Make your website user-friendly. Research shows that if users can’t find the information they need within 15 seconds (HubSpot), they’ll click off and head somewhere else, resulting in a lost sale and a really poor bounce rate. A website should be like a book. Users come onto your website at the beginning – a ‘landing page’ – then they easily find their way through the story, learning or choosing as they go, until they naturally reach the end point – be that buying something, signing up to a mailing list, getting in contact or whatever else it is you’re trying to achieve (see ‘Message’!).

DON’T
SHOUT. NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, EVER, SHOULD YOU GO CAPS LOCK CRAZY. ONE OR TWO WORDS – FINE. ANY MORE THAN THAT AND YOU LOOK ANGRY AND A WEE BIT PSYCHO. IT’S HARD TO READ, YOU WON’T BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY, AND LET’S BE HONEST – IT LOOKS DAMN UGLY.

DO
Try out some A/B testing. Don’t assume that the placement of your call to action (CTA) button is the most effective place for it just because that’s where it’s always been. Swap it around, monitor how your conversion rate changes, and pick which placement works best. The current trend for 2016 is to drop the slider. Let’s say your colleague or client is adamant that they really, really want to keep their beloved slider. A/B testing will allow you to prove to them that, actually, a slider is sooooo 2015, daaaahling.

DON’T
Forget to test your website functionality. Just because you think something should work, doesn’t mean it actually does. And you won’t gain any friends with broken links, dead ends, misinformation or badly placed CTAs. And for god’s sake, make sure your email address and telephone number are correct!

DO
Be consistent. Not only is it unprofessional to chop and change heading size, typeface, colours or types of image, but it’s really disconcerting for users. You don’t want them to feel like they’ve clicked through to a different website!

DON’T
Go overboard on images. You’ve heard that photos and images make a website more desirable, right? Good. That’s true. All-text websites are a thing of the past. But that doesn’t mean each page needs 20 photos. And it certainly doesn’t mean that on each page you need to include photos, and images, and cartoons, and infographics, and tables, and a video, and, and, and… Yes: a good web design includes images. No: bigger is not always better. And don’t get me started on boring corporate stock images… No. Just, no. Do not go there. Unless of course your website sells corporate stock image downloads – in which case, yay, how fun.

DO
Be responsive. Ugh – a bugbear of mine. Ever tried to access a website that looks beautiful on your laptop but which is unusable on your phone? You’ve got to zoom in to read the text, but then the line doesn’t all fit on the screen at once, so you then have to scroll sideways, back and forth, back and forth, back and – give up, leave the page, do not pass ‘Go’, and certainly do not buy from them!

Follow these web design dos and don’ts and you’ll soon find yourself having to beat off customers with a stick. Not literally, but, you know – there’ll be lots of them.

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Author Nikki Hall

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