Business > Website Design
12 Essential Web
Site Design Tips
12 Essential Web Site Design Tips
by: Justine Curtis, Enable UK
Web site usability and presentation is perhaps the most important factor in any web design. This is the driving factor that gives your visitors a positive, professional impression of your company and keeps them coming back to your website. This issue focuses on the “12 Essential Web Site Design Tips” that anyone wishing to promote their products or services on the Internet should benefit from.
1. What’s the purpose?
The most fundamental thing to do before designing your web site is to define its purpose. Do you want to sell products directly to your customer through your web site, or collect contact details to develop future relationships? A lot of this will depend on the products or services you sell, those with a larger price tag will require more relationship building than those that would count as an “impulse” purchase.
People also use web sites to research products
as well as purchase them so a company selling fridges for example may
not be able to sell them through their web site (people don’t often
buy fridges online!) but they may well be able to direct them to their
nearest store where the item they are interested in is in stock.
Once you have decided the final outcome you want to achieve, whether it’s a sale, an enquiry, etc. work out a logical progression through the process your customer would need to go through and structure your web site around it. Give the customer the information they will be looking for and help them find it easily and quickly.
If you offer a large range of products, use a
search facility, if your products carry a detailed specification, add
a “click for spec” button which links to further information on an
additional page, this way you will not slow those who are ready to buy,
but offer the additional info required by those still undecided.
Most web sites have navigation down the left hand of the page, the company logo graphic across the top and the content of the page below and to the right. Another common layout is to have both the logo and navigation menu along the top of the page and the page content across the page beneath it.
As these are the most familiar layouts to
users, it would be wise to stick with them as the last thing you want
to do is make your web site confusing to your customers.
Use contrasting colours for your text, black or blue on a white background is ideal. Don’t forget to check the colours of your text links both before and after they’ve been visited, you don’t want them to disappear.
Patterned backgrounds look dated and
unprofessional and make your text harder to read, try to avoid them.
If you have them, use your corporate colours in your logos, buttons,
etc. and keep the overall colour scheme inoffensive, clean and simple.
Put your links or buttons in a prominent place
and keep them in the same place on every page. Make sure your colours,
navigation, typeface and text size are consistent on every page. Make
sure the user knows which page they are currently viewing and provide
direct links to the contact and home page on every page of your web
Make sure that your text is easy to read. It’s very tempting to use an unusual typeface but your customers will appreciate text that’s easy on the eye. They want to read your information and not be challenged in doing so. Also remember, when it comes to overall design layout, white space is beautiful. Break up your text into short paragraphs, bullet points, etc.
For more detailed advice on designing a
professional web site that will achieve high search engine listings
and increase customer conversion rates, download our ebook “Start at
the Beginning”. Click here for an excerpt: http://www.enable-uk.co.uk/html/book_2.html
Once you've defined your purpose and planned
your layout, design and navigation you should begin to create your
content. Once you have decided what pages will be on your web site you
will have a good idea of the kind of content that will be needed for
each page. Write all the text that should go on each page, decide
which graphics or photos to use and remember to space the information
out on the page.
Once you have established credibility with a professional looking design and layout, it’s the content that will either convince your customers to buy, or have them clicking away to your competition. If you are not a professional copywriter, get some help. Either pay a professional to do it for you or for invaluable advice, read our guide “Writing Text That Sells”.
Click here for an excerpt from the book:
It has been proved time and again that
Internet users have a short attention span. They find long pages and
acres of text off-putting. Give all the information that’s required
but keep it concise, break it up with graphics and try to make your
pages as short in length as possible. Don’t make your viewers scroll
down more than an extra page height and give your visitors manageable
chunks of text that keep them interacting with your site. If your page
is longer than this, consider splitting the information over two or
Few things are more likely to cost you
customers than incorrect information or poorly written or misspelled
text on your business website. It will destroy your credibility. Read
through all your text carefully and double check all the facts, get
someone else to proof read it and run the text through a spell checker
after checking your language settings (English – US or UK for
example). Then do it all again, twice!
We’ve already mentioned that Internet users
have a short attention span. Once your web site is ready with text and
graphics on all the pages, check that it loads quickly at various
connection speeds and remember that not everyone has a fast connection.
Where possible reuse buttons and graphics, as they will load quickly
when they have been viewed once.
Check how the site looks on different browsers
and at different screen resolutions. People use different browser
settings to alter text sizes and have additional toolbars filling up
their browser windows. Nothing is more frustrating than a site that
you can’t read because it is a fixed size and disappears off your
Finally, do a dummy run. Get a typical
customer to road test your web site. If possible, ask them to buy a
product and let them go through the whole process from start to
finish. Did they manage to find what they wanted in three or fewer
clicks? Did they find it easy to complete the purchase? How long did
it take? Did they become confused or distracted at any point?
More information and an excerpt can be found here: http://www.enable-uk.co.uk/html/book_2.html
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