How to Design a Great Website
How to Design a Great Website
The toughest part about succeeding in the online world is creating a high-quality website that stands out from your competition. Attractive design ideas constantly change and go out-of-date almost before they are in-date. For example, the silly animations and sound clips once integrated on so many sites are now considered cheesy or inappropriate to a professional design.
That's why it is important to take the time to think about your website and to follow these crucial design tips. They are intended to create a timeless site that will attract visitors and never go out of style. They are typically simple enough that just about anybody, regardless of their experience or skill level, should be able to implement them.
Each of these tips has been carefully selected to maximize the look of your site, to make it look more professional, and to engage a larger audience. They emulate the style of previously successful sites and synthesize them into a coherent design strategy that is easy to understand and which should guide all of your website design concepts.
1. Defining Your Purpose
Before starting out on your website design, take time to decide what you want to say with it. Are you trying to attract customers to a service or a product that you are trying to sell? Or are you simply trying to communicate vital information that may change your readers' lives? Defining your purpose is crucial because it will lead you through the rest of the design process.
For example, if your website aims to attract leads that you can sell to other companies, there should be a prevalence of contact information spread through the site. However, if your site is simply informational, you need to make it easy for your readers to find content. A search function is crucial here. You also need to include a table of contents to make it easier for them to find a relevant article.
Write down all of this information before writing a single line of code for your site. In fact, it's not a bad idea to sketch out a few basic design ideas on graphing paper. These plans can help you communicate your concepts more efficiently and coherently implement them when you finally start developing your site.
2. Remember: Simple is Better
Have you ever battled your way through a complex website and wished that they had spent a little more time simplifying everything? This problem illustrates that simplicity in website design is better than more complicated styles. One popular style is the continuously scrolling site. These let you use your mouse wheel for scrolling past a variety of content information, including infographics.
This design concept is also perfect for a mobile layout. As a majority of people use their mobile devices for most of their internet use, creating a mobile-friendly design for your site is crucial. Use large and colorful pictures to attract the eye and keep your reader interested. Break apart your text with these photos and use bullet-point lists and headlines to keep people reading.
Things need to be designed in an eye-catching way that isn't too flashy. Gaudy or unattractive designs will push the reader away. This fact is especially true for mobile users. As their screens are smaller, ugly or complicated designs will make it harder for them to get crucial information. So keep things simple, streamline your look, and your website will be a success.
3. Creating the Top-Level Framework
Now we're getting into the more technical side of web design. The first step here is to build a high-level framework for your site. This concept is best to visualize as the user-interface that your visitors will use to look through your site. Think of the front page of your favorite websites to get an idea of what this requires. You need a navigation bar, an easy-to-use menu, and various photos and text to attract the user.
More importantly, it is crucial to sketch out this framework and to create URL destinations for all of your final site goals. A good framework will send your readers where they want to go without any confusion. Again, simplicity should be considered a major boon in this process. Take the time to sketch this look out on paper, create navigation trees on graphing paper, and test it out in a non-live atmosphere.
Don't worry about the sub-domains of your framework just yet. While it is important to implement these successfully later, right now you are going to focus mostly on creating an easy-to-understand framework that your customers and readers will enjoy. Don't be afraid to borrow a few design elements from successful websites. Don't copy them exactly, but use the ideas as necessary.
4. Working Out the Design Details
When you've sketched out a top-level framework that makes sense for your site, it is important to work out the exact design details you want to use for it. For example, you need to choose your typography in a way that attracts the eyes. You need to mix up your font style to keep the reader engaged and to avoid reading fatigue. For example, larger and bolder fonts are appropriate for headlines because they make them easier to read.
After using this type of font, you should use a smaller and easier-to-read font for the main text of your site. Try to use fonts that aren't considered silly or bland. For example, Times New Roman is a rather overused font that will make your site look old-fashioned. On the same note, Comic Sans is simply never appropriate as it is one of the most mocked fonts on the net today.
More importantly, you also need to choose your color theme and match it with the photos on your site. It is a good idea to use colors identified with your business. For example, you could use your logo colors as a guide to creating an attractive website. Contrast is crucial here because it helps different design details stand out without being overdone.
5. Creating Your Sub-Domains
Now that you have a pretty good idea of the design of your top-level framework, you need to create your sub-domains. The font choices and color schemes should be similar, if not the same, as your main page. This step helps to create a unified look that makes your site more enjoyable to navigate. However, you also need to take time to consider each sub-domain carefully.
For example, each sub-domain needs to have a unique purpose to make it necessary for your site. It should, in a sense, tell a story about your company and uniquely intrigue the reader. The layout of the sub-domain also needs to emphasize this story in a way that draws in the reader. The exact methods of achieving this will vary depending on the design of your site and your site purpose.
As always, it is crucial to keep the design on these sub-domain sites simple. Simplicity requires an elegant design and a full understanding of what you are trying to accomplish with your site. Again, brainstorming and careful consideration are essential here. If you need to sketch out each sub-domain page on a piece of graphing paper, it is worth the effort.
6. Think of Motion
A good website should flow naturally and draw the reader's attention in a guided manner. A flowing website requires a few simple design steps that fool the eye into seeing movement. For example, textured horizontal backgrounds often create the optical illusion of motion as your readers scroll through the site. However, videos can also be integrated onto sub-domains to keep readers engaged with the content.
Motion on a website also refers to the way the reader reads through a page. For example; good design needs to include an eye-catching headline, text that flows smoothly, photos to capture their attention, lists that are easy to read, and a natural flow between the pictures and the text. As people read left-to-right in most countries, think of your website as a book.
Animations are not recommended for modern websites, though. These design options are rather chintzy and typically slow down the loading speed of a website. However, interactive menus and pictures that change when you click on them are a great addition. They make a site more fun and unpredictable for the reader, and keep them coming back for more.
7. Integrate Fun Details
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of some web design basics. For example, you now know to keep the design simple, to make each sub-domain flow engagingly, and that a variety of media are important to add as a way of attracting the reader's attention. Now, you can add the kind of little details that make a website stand out and wow the reader.
For example, shading and coloring on graphics help give depth to your site that can be hard to notice or pinpoint. You can also add elements, such as shadowing and appropriate sound effects when clicking menu items, to make your site feel alive and engaging. These little details are subtle and something that the mind doesn't consciously notice. But it unconsciously feels it when they are lacking.
You do want to avoid going overboard with these design details, though. Adding too much texture and detail to a site can slow down its loading time and make it seem cluttered and ugly. A good step here is to add way too many details to the site and then strip them away. At a certain point, you'll reach a happy medium that makes your site look great without being excessive about it.
8. When to Go Live
After you've created a website that takes these considerations into account, you need to decide when to go live with it. This decision is a tough choice to make. For example, what happens if you go live too early and an apparent bug annoys your customers?
This problem can devastate your chances of reaching a broad audience and make you seem professional. In most cases, it is better to work on your website a little longer than you think is necessary to make it as close to perfection as possible. However, you can also fiddle around for too much time with a website and cost yourself money waiting to perfect it.
Perfection is a noble goal but unrealistic in web design. Try to find a happy medium between a great looking site that has as few errors as possible. There's no way you'll catch all of them before going live. Instead, you need to make sure you spot them as they occur.
Correcting these problems should be done transparently with your audience. Listing possible problems on the front page and noting when they are fixed shows your readers that you care about your site and are actively fixing it. Nobody expects perfection right away on a website. As a result, fixing these problems as they occur impresses your customers in a big way.
Did any of these concepts or design ideas ring a bell with you? There's a good chance that they described a website you've seen before when surfing online. That's because these rules are quickly becoming the official standard of online website design success. They can't be ignored, or else you run the risk of alienating your potential audience or customers.
So take the time to experiment with them before going live with your site. Throwing out an unfinished site will potentially cause even more problems than a poorly designed one. A great website should integrate a majority of these ideas and use them to tell a coherent story.
In fact, we want to emphasize that storytelling should be the major thrust behind every aspect of your design. Use your website to tell your potential customers about your company in a way that pulls them to you. They should feel like they know who you are as a person and want to support your business. Done right, it will make your site irresistible.