By now there’s hardly a small business around whose owner doesn’t recognize the importance of having his business represented in cyberspace by an attractive, responsive website to attract prospective clients.
Business owners know a sharp business website is far more than an Internet-based business card. It is a sophisticated marketing tool with the potential to make or break a business.
When designing your business website, keep the following nine success-oriented website design basics uppermost in mind.
1. Use Responsive Design with the User in Mind
Studies show the majority of people today access the Internet via a mobile device, typically a tablet or cell phone. Responsive design means your site will appear correctly on each individual’s device.
Google, in one of its more recent infamous updates made “mobile-friendly” a new site ranking criterion. Sites not optimized for mobile devices now rank below those that are.
2. Put Key Information on Every Page
In the early days of website design, it was common for a site to have a primary home page from which other pages branched. To find contact information, a site visitor had to navigate back to the home page or look for an “About” page.
It is a misconception to think everyone enters a site through the home page. Many times, people follow a link someone shared with them for an item for sale, a blog post, or other point of interest.
Today’s website design trends wish to make it easy for visitors to find the basic business information. Treat every page as a landing page.
3. Make the Most of Your Above the Fold Space
“Above the fold” is a newspaper term that references the upper 1/2 of the paper as is viewed when the paper commonly folded. This is the more valuable “real estate” and is reserved for items the editor wishes to feature.
With web design, “above the fold” indicates what the viewer sees when the site loads on his computer screen without the need to scroll down. Your most important message, as well as a call to action, should go here.
4. Utilize a Professionally Designed Logo
This is the heart of your brand and is to your business what the golden arches are to McDonald’s. Therefore, it should be created by a professional graphic artist who specializes in business logos.
It should be bold, crisp, and unforgettable. It should also, in keeping with the best practices in website design, be on each page of your site, and linked to your home page.
5. Avoid Design Clutter
The most noticeable difference between Walmart and Sak’s Fifth Avenue isn’t the merchandise as much as it’s how the merchandise is displayed. Clothing racks in discount stores are so closely spaced that it is often impossible to walk between them without touching the clothes. In a high-end department store, the presentation is elegant, spacious and attractive.
As any beginners guide to website design will quickly point out, a website design basic premise involves the importance of setting off your copy with white space. Avoid visual distractions and take care not to issue competing calls for action.
6. Use Professional Photography
One of the most under-appreciated of all website design tips concerns the overuse of free stock photography. How many times have you followed a link to a page or an article only to note that the photograph of the “ideal” family the site features is the same one you saw last week on a different site?
Set yourself apart. Purchase exclusive rights to a stock photo or hire a professional to shoot what you need for you. Be very careful about placing your cell phone photos on your business website.
7. Use Common Fonts
The more font families a website has, the more distracting it becomes, and the longer it takes to load. Also, fonts that look good on a PC might not perform so well on a cell phone.
Be sure the fonts you choose render well on all possible devices and limit yourself to one or two families to ensure quick loading.
8. Provide Sensible Navigation
For each second a website visitor struggles unsuccessfully to navigate a site, the likelihood that they’ll click off and seek the information they desire on another site increases. Prevent this from occurring with clear groupings of navigational options.
Don’t strand your visitors but, instead, always provide them with a back button. Help people recognize already visited pages with color changing links and provide a sitemap to large or unusually structured sites.
9. Flee the Flash
Flash is doomed to failure, perpetually caught as it is in the crossfire of a continuing conflict between computing and software giants Apple and Adobe. All the indications are present, so why go down with a sinking ship?
Be proactive and become familiar with other available options that are easier to use and also more Internet friendly.
The overall quality of the nation’s websites has been steadily rising for the last decade or more. Chances are, you’ve absorbed more about great website design than you realize via your own daily surfing of late.
You won’t go wrong if you stick to tried, true, and sensible design schematics. Test your sites on every available platform before taking them live and then sit back and prepare to greet a new, steady stream of site traffic and business clientele.