If you are starting a new website, or are thinking about redesigning an existing one, your options are almost endless. You can create almost any design that you want and include just about any feature that you can imagine. But of course, you shouldn't do that. Instead you should design a website that puts your visitors (customers, readers, users) at the center of the process. To achieve that objective there are some dos and don'ts of great website design that you should follow.
Website design is all about doing things well rather than doing them because they can be done. In this respect it is just like cooking - it is about getting the right balance of ingredients and adding them to the mix at just the right time. Of course you can add more cinnamon, curry powder or chilies (not all together, of course!), but doing that usually spoils the dish by overpowering and distracting the person eating. This is exactly what you want to avoid when building a website – don’t put anything on the page that does not enhance the user experience.
Layout and Navigation
This starts with layout and navigation. The buzzwords here are:
- Mobile friendly
- Clutter free
- Easy to navigate
So here are our first dos and don'ts:
Do make your website mobile friendly. This often involves creating two versions of your website, but Homestead has simplified this with Dudamobile.
Do make your website clean and clutter free. And make sure the most important information on your site is visible to the user without them having to scroll.
Do make the navigation intuitive so that your visitors instinctively understand how to get around your website. Enabling them to get to anywhere, from anywhere, within one or two clicks, is the objective.
Don't pack your page to fill the white or blank spaces - space is okay.
Don't make your users scroll horizontally, ever, even on mobile devices.
Don't include hidden navigation or complicated navigation.
Colors, Backgrounds and Buttons
Unless you are a graphic designer this is one of the trickiest elements of designing a website. Most people include colors or backgrounds that they like but which are not suitable for their website for several reasons. Here are some tips.
Do use a template design as your starting point. Graphic designers created the templates on Homestead, for example. This means you will know the colors, backgrounds and buttons all work well together.
Do use buttons that are eye-catching.
Don't go overboard with the colors - simplicity is the key.
Don't choose a background that dominates the screen and detracts from the rest of your content.
Text and Media
All of the tips above have been about presenting your website in a way that is appealing to your users, and doesn't get in their way or cause them difficulties. But they are visiting your website to access your content - so how do you present that properly?
Do use images, but they should be good images. Stock images are okay but they are no substitute to using good quality personal images.
Don't use low resolution images. And remember that some of your users will access your website on retina displays, so make sure you get the quality right.
Do write the text in straightforward language and get to the point - white space is better than rambling text that is not saying anything useful.
Don't exclusively write about you. Of course it always helps to show a piece of your personality in your content. But you don’t want to ramble on about what you’re eating for breakfast (unless you run a diner). Instead aim to solve your customer’s problems, make them feel better, or teach them something. You can talk about you on your About page.
What about the functions that you can put on your website?
Do include social icons, social sharing functionality, and a contact form. If you work from home and want your privacy, you don’t need to add your home address or personal phone number. But make sure that it’s easy for visitors to get in touch and interact with you online.
Don't include flashing, Flash intros and pointless widgets and gadgets like weather updates, or the current time.
Follow these dos and don'ts to create a website that is modern and professional. Your visitors will feel comfortable interacting on it and you’ll feel great about your website design.