Having trouble knowing where to start when designing a website? We’ve all been there. Even experienced web design professionals struggle. Whether you’re a professional web designer or someone who’s trying to build your first site for your business, it’s important you follow some key best practices. If you’re looking for them, then you’re in the right place with this checklist. In this article, we’re going to look at some really important design tips that many web designers ignore or forget about. Don’t make the mistakes they do and follow these key steps, and your website should be a success.
Knowing how to design a website starts with a plan. It should always start with a plan. Far too many web designers simply jump into a project and start creating without really knowing where they’re going. Unless you get really lucky, you’ll end up with a site that isn’t really working for you if you do it like this. So you need to start with a plan, and you need to follow it methodically. You need to know who you’re creating a site for, and what’s going to work best for them.
A website isn’t just about layout and style. Far too many sites put style over substance these days, as web designers get distracted by the latest trends rather than thinking about what’s actually going to work for the sort of visitor you’re likely to get. Web design isn’t just about style and features, it’s about user experience and optimisation. That means your site needs to be optimised so that visitors have the best possible user experience. This will mean more sales and fewer lost visitors in the long run. Let’s have a look at the best practices checklist so that you can start building sites that really work for you, your visitors, and your business:
Before you start actually coding and designing, make your plan. Start with a brainstorm. Come up with ideas and talk them through with your colleagues. Get tips and ideas from other departments in your business if you have any.
Create buyer personas
In a minute, we’re going to look at the importance of seeing things from your user’s perspective. You should always be designing while thinking about what your visitors really want. To do this, you need to know who they really are. And in order to do that, you need to create some buyer personas.
Simply come up with a few different profiles of the sort of people who might be visiting your site or likely to spend money there. Who are they? How old are they? What do they like? How much money do they have? What are they really looking for? How can you serve them best? These are all really important things you need to think about when coming up with a few different buyer personas for your site.
Always keep these buyer personas in mind
Once you’ve got your buyer personas, don’t just forget about them. Keep them in mind at every step of the design process. Print them out and stick them to the wall if you have to.
It’s super-important that you always design a site with your visitors in mind, but so many web designers forget how important this is. They get too caught up with their own tastes without thinking about what your visitors are really going to want. Different generations of internet users have different needs and requirements when visiting a site. Some will really like video content, while others prefer to keep things simple. Older users might not be as good with computers and might have a harder time spotting links if they aren’t industry-standard blue underlined text. You don’t want to lose visitors or sales because your visitors don’t understand your site, or because you’re trying to offer them something they didn’t ask for. Don’t try and cater for someone else, think about your visitors first and foremost. Build a website just for them.
Select images carefully
Images are important on your site, but make sure you take time to pick the right ones. Don’t use the same old clip art or stock photos that people are used to seeing elsewhere. Create your own if you can. Make sure you compress your images, preferably in JPEG, so that they load quickly. While images are a great addition to MOST websites, you don’t want too many. That could slow the load times down on your site, which could lead to people giving up and closing their browser or clicking away.
Being careful with your images is especially important for mobile browsers. More and more people are using mobiles to access the internet these days, and you don’t want to lose potential sales by having a site that isn’t optimised for mobile.
Make the right content choices
Again, keep your buyer personas in mind when you come up with content choices. Video works for some, but not for everyone. Have a mix if you’re unsure exactly what direction to go, and test alternatives with A/B tests to really know for sure.
Use CTAs effectively
Calls to action, or CTAS, are really important parts of your website. Don’t forget about them, but don’t shove them down people’s throats either. Make sure your CTAs are clear and concise, and that people aren’t distracted from them. Make your offers compelling and time sensitive where you can, but don’t be TOO salesy. It’s a fine balance, and one you’re going to have to find. CTAs are that important bit where you actually get people to spend money on your site (or perform another action), so you need to take time coming up with the best options for your site.
Make sure themes and color-schemes run consistently throughout your site. Don’t confuse people with inconsistency. Keep everything tied in with your brand.
Hopefully, these tips are enough to get you well on your way to web-design success. You’d be surprised how many people ignore these best practices. Don’t be one of them.