In today’s post I wanted to talk a little about some of the elements that make up a great website design. There are a lot of design principles that go into website design but I chose seven I wanted to touch on today and those are:
- Ease of Navigation
- Calls to Action
- Informational Footer
- Stylized Buttons
- Responsive Design
- Images, Space, and Visual Design
These elements may not be as important from one designer to the next but they are certainly concepts that all designers should have in the back of their minds when designing sites for clients and those of you who go the do it yourself route should be aware of. Let’s get started shall we?
Ease of Navigation
When designing a website, the ease with which visitors to the site will be able to find their way around should be one of the first problems addressed as a web designer.
Deciding on a navigation menu style, left side vs. top would be the first place to start. Each has its advantages but using this menu to help minimize clicks is the real gift. Visitors to the site want to find the information they need quickly and easily and you want them to be able to have access to the information without having multiple links cluttering up your page.
All pages should be accessible from all other pages so that users can quickly get back to where they started without too much hassle, and your navigational scheme/menu should distinguish itself from any ads you may have placed on the page so that there is no confusion.
Attention to detail is crucial when dealing with your site’s navigation. If visitors feel confused or hassled, they will not return.
Calls to Action
You can use Call to Actions for many things on your website.
They bring a sense of focus to your site by highlighting a particular idea or product. It quickly draws the eye of the user to the point of the page or site and gives a sense of urgency … creating an “I need to know more!” focus about your goods or services.
Call to Actions can provide a direction to your users as well. It quickly tells them the steps to take to get more information on the topic you want them focused on.
Calls to Action can also help you judge the success of your website. By using tracking software plug ins which align with your Call to Actions, you can have a count of the number of clicks and page visits your site and your Call to Actions receive giving you valuable feedback.
It is so disappointing to see a footer at the bottom of a page that just contains a copyright and nothing else. This is a great space to be creative so let’s use it!
This footer is a great canvas for a second navigational menu or as an area to place social media icons as well as links for more information. You could also use this space as a way to connect with users on a personal level by placing funny graphics or visuals that have meaning to you.
It is also a great area for search engine optimization. By adding a secondary menu linking to your content elsewhere, you can improve SEO rankings without much effort.
Finally, It’s a great place, as a designer, to place a link to your design page as a way of helping users find out more information about possibly hiring you for their next website building project. Please don’t neglect this area!
Stylized buttons are a great tool to add to your site’s ease of navigation, organization, and engage your users but they can be tricky when it comes to applying them. Do not allow them to overwhelm the site.
To aid in navigation on your site, style buttons need to add to the functionality and it should be clear from the button graphic, where clicking it will take them. Choosing the graphic for a particular button is very important as you don’t want to confuse or overwhelm your visitors. Stylized buttons should organize the information, not make it less available.
Engaging your user with interactive buttons is always fun but again, you have to be careful. Always keeping aesthetics in mind, being cautious about overwhelming your users, making certain the button graphics match the purpose of the site, and that you are bringing continuity to the site with them, instead of taking it away, are all thing to keep in mind when using style buttons.
Responsive design … we hear that a lot and will continue to hear it a lot. Why? Because we are moving (pretty much have moved) into such a mobile society that it has become a necessity for websites to be designed to be responsive to mobile configuration. This allows the same website to be viewed from both a PC and a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet. It also eliminates the need for a second site.
As far as SEO goes, having a site with responsive design can aid in your boosting your search engine rankings because the content is already there and there is no need for the engines to crawl two different sites.
Due to the ever changing technology of mobile devices, responsive design is your best bet when designing a site that will flex and grow with the fast pace of technological growth. You are assured of optimal visualization across multiple platforms.
Here it is again, content. I won’t send too much time on this because we have talked about it so much but it really cannot be stressed enough.
Content is king. It is now and it will continue to be from here on out. Producing fresh, relevant content is your websites best hope at staying current and falling into the category of one of those really great sites.
The better your content is, the more it will get shared across social media, the more it is shared across social media, the more hits your sites get, the more hits your sites get, the more product or services you sell. It’s a win-win.
Images and Space/Visual Design
To say that images, space, and visual design are important to your web design would probably be an understatement. Your website is your storefront. It is your first impression and it shows off your goods and services. To sell or attract the most visitors you will need to use this space in a way that draws in your users but which does not overwhelm them. The space should sell your product, service or you.
Images can be amazing to website when used correctly. You need to make sure they are sized and cropped right, positioned correctly, and that follow the theme of your site. They need to work with your color schemes and engage your users. It isn’t a bad idea to use images that say something about you to develop a personal relationship with your visitors but use caution you aren’t choosing something too quirky or off-putting.
Being aware of your space is key to designing your site as well. The overall visual design should utilize white space as well as images in an effort to ensure that visitors do not feel overwhelmed with clutter. Less often really is more and it is especially true in web design when you are working in such a limited space. Everything should balance and flow in the direction you’d like the users eyes to move. The key is to push them in that direction using space and images without overwhelming them
I hope you’ve learned a little something today about the elements of really great websites. The key points to remember would be to make your site inviting, make visitors want to return … engage them but don’t overwhelm them but most of all … have fun!