Many different online publications and web design agencies publish “rules” about the best ways to design a business’ website. However, it’s often not that simple and what might work for one company may not fall in line with the overall brand or objectives of another.
So, we’ve written up a list of 10 useful tips that we feel often benefit brands and businesses when they’re setting up their website and homepage for the first time, or just making some tweaks to an existing design.
1. Define your site map
To get started, you need to have a “blue print” of your website structure.
You must consider what pages you want your website to consist of and where all of the important content will fit.
In short: What is your navigation menu?
This is the first bit of research you’ll need to undertake and a decision needs to be made about the site map before your web agency can really begin building your site.
2. Investigate your competitors
In the offline world, you’d always have a quick look at what your competitors are doing before you roll out any new products or services, so do the same when you’re changing or producing anything online too.
Similar companies all over the globe might give you pointers about great things you could be doing online, from the way they market themselves to the online offers that they run. You could draw on some of these good ideas from other companies you’re not in direct competition with and apply them to your local market.
3. Define your calls to action
It’s important that your website’s home page isn’t just full of basic text. There needs to be many calls to action throughout. What do you want people to do? Call you, fill in contact forms, request a call back, join your Facebook page and follow you on Twitter?
Define your calls to action from the very beginning of the web design process, so the team working on the build know exactly what you’re looking for and so they can place these calls to action strategically on your site.
4. Keep the design simple
You want visitors to your website to be able to see the important information quickly and easily, so make everything simple and don’t obsess over too many colours or complex animations if they have no benefit for the user. Visitors are growing tired of these kinds of tricks and just want the information instead.
5. Use 100% width
When your web team is adding content and graphics to your website, it’s important that it fills the whole screen so that your content always looks like it’s in the middle of the page and the header and footer stretch across the entire screen. This stops misplaced borders at the edges, which can look really unprofessional.
6. Use a high contrast between fonts
We explored the importance of high contrast fonts last week and explained that people are more likely to engage with content if it’s easier to read. Using high contrast fonts also means that you’re allowing your website to be accessible for all kinds of people, including those with visual impairments and those using a small, low-quality monitor.
7. Let your graphics add vibrancy
Too much colour for your fonts and backgrounds can be a little garish and distracting, so rely on graphics to add colour and vibrancy to your website instead.
8. Let professionals handle the copy
You may think that you know your company better than anyone else, but in actual fact it makes more sense for a professional copywriter to write all of your content for you. Not only will they look at your company with a fresh pair of eyes and give a different perspective, but they are experienced in copywriting for the web, so understand SEO techniques and how to make your business stand out from the rest.
9. Integrate social media
If you use any kind of social network, you can integrate these feeds onto your homepage, so anyone can link out to your external social networks quickly and easily. Regularly updated content can also have an extremely positive impact on search rankings.
Even if you’re not actively using any social networks, you still need to consider social buttons and icons, so people can share information from your website amongst their networks.
10. Review regularly and work on user experience
No matter how happy you may be with your website when it’s first built, it will need to be reviewed regularly. Various elements, like widgets and content may need to be updated and also user experience should be carefully monitored.
You may find people aren’t using your website in the way you’d hoped, so you can employ UX analysis tools in order to better understand what’s going on. For instance, here at Codastar we offer a special user experience service, which analyses exactly how users behave on your website.
To speak to us about a more tailored approach to web design and to find out exactly how we can make your home page work for you, then get in touch with one of the Codastar team today.
Images via LK Saunders and Contrast Rebellion.
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