Most businesses now have an online presence of some kind, helping to increase both brand awareness and sales, even more so if you allow people to purchase your products through your website. Designing a website for your company needn’t be a daunting task, and there are in fact a number of simple guidelines you can follow to ensure your users get the best experience so they’ll keep coming back again and again.
It’s important to realise that designing a good website isn’t always just about making it look good (although that definitely is a part of it!), it’s about giving users what they need quickly and effectively. It’s also important to give some thought to how the website will be structured, so it’s easy-to-use and keeps people coming back.
So how can you design a professional and slick website that will stand out from the crowd?
Ultimately it will come down to your industry and needs as to the direction you take your design, but with the following 7 simple steps you can give yourself the right foundations to flourish:
Start designing the old-fashioned way
Don’t underestimate the power of putting your ideas down on paper. Make sure you draw your design out first. It doesn’t need to be a Rembrandt, you just need to get the basic structure and layout down, along with any other ideas you have whilst you’re going through the design process.
Use a web page grid
Using a grid to structure your website is the most fundamental step when it comes to actually adding content. By adding a grid, you can ensure your design is symmetrical or balanced evenly, and that items are laid out properly. It’ll also help you in terms of spacing out different items and features.
Think about the usability
This stage should have mostly been dealt with whilst you were planning the site, but it’s a good idea to review whether or not your website is easy to navigate, and whether users can find the content they want quickly. Using menus and links throughout the site can help, as can keeping pages consistent throughout the website so users know what to expect and where to find things easily.
Burger menus are becoming increasingly popular as they are quickly recognisable on both desktop and mobile, and can be small and minimal so as not to detract from the main web page design. However, if you can come up with a menu design or functionality that is unique to your business or interactive in an unusual way, this will help intrigue and impress your users. Don’t let this over-clutter the web page and take away from the simple website design though.
Choose a typography
Selecting a font, along with choosing a colour or theme, is part of the exploration phase of website design. It’s an important step, and you should consider what sort of brand image you’re going for and the feel you want your website to give off. We’d recommend not using more than two different fonts (unless this is part of your specific style and branding), and sticking to simple, easy-to-read fonts for large bodies of text. For titles and calls to action, however, some like to get a bit more creative and have a specific font for these too!
Selecting a colour scheme and a theme
This is another vital stage during which you’ll have to give some thought to what sort of ideas and images you’d like to represent your website. This’ll largely depend on what you’re trying to sell, and what sort of personality your business has. Many websites choose to go for white or light colours as a base on the website to help give the site an airy, fresh feel which can be versatile and mould to your brand and product. Colour schemes may revolve around a common colour used in your products, your brand logo or simply the mood or feeling you want to associate with. Green for instance is healthy and natural, versus yellow which is more vibrant and happy.
You can also deliberately choose to opt for a dark base colour for your website to add a more moody tone, to help draw attention to other features or simply illustrate what you do. For instance, you may notice that film and cinema websites will often have a darker background colour to imitate the dark cinema experience.
It’s often said that a picture is a thousand words, and this definitely applies to websites. People are unlikely to want to read entire essays on your website, and one way you can keep text to a minimum is to use images or graphics to convey your message instead. This can include graphs as well as actual pictures. The pictures you choose will also convey the style and feel of your business, so choose wisely!
Interactive web design
Incorporating interactive features into your web design is really the cherry of top of designing your webpage, or your website as a whole. Think about images that react as you move your cursor over them, unusual scrolling options such as an interesting scroll bar, features that move as you scroll or animations that begin only once the reader scrolls to a certain point on the page.
Whilst these will help you on your way to creating the perfect website design, you also need to understand your audience and who you are selling to, so get on social media and get researching! You also need to understand your competition. Look at what others have done (or are doing) in your industry and observe what they are doing well – and where there’s room for improvement.
It’s also always great to look at a range of popular websites, even if they aren’t in your niche, to note any good web design features that you like – and just try to keep an eye out for inspiration as you navigate the web.
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Want to find out more about what goes into good web page design? Visit the author’s web design page at Bright Design, a website design company based in Northampton, for more information, as well as their blog, where you find more useful ideas and tips for your website design.