Getting going with designing your own website? Don’t really have a lot of experience or education on the matter? All good girl, I’m going to give you a quick & easy list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating that fab website.
Within the web design community there’s a generally known set of best practices to ensure your website is as appealing and effective as possible. I’ll give you the quick run down here, so you can feel confident you’re making decisions based on whats most effective, and not just personal preference.
Keeping a websites navigation options clear is vital. A confused mind always says no (or in the case of a website, closes your site tab). While I encourage you to add personality and flair to your website, avoid using creative and confusing titles in your navigation options.
Your top navigation should be reserved for links to your website’s primary purpose. With every new item you place in your top navigation, the less likely your visitor will click the link you want them to. Put only the links which are most vital to meeting your website goals in your top navigation, and all the rest in the content of your pages or footer. A rule of best practice is to have no more than 6 items in your top navigation, however, the less, the better.
On any page where your purpose is to get someones email, clear out all the other options. When I have an opt-in gift I generally have a link to a landing page, with no footer, no header, no links, just an opt-in box. Opting in is the only action you can take on the page, and those pages convert, well!
What’s the #1 thing that will make or break your website? Photos. No photo is better than an amateur or blurry photo. Only use crisp, high-res, professional quality photos on your website. I’m afraid to say, nothing else will cut it.
Website updates are important (you’ll see that below in the do’s section), however, it’s important that when someone lands on your website and then comes back again later, they recognize it and that they’re been there before. If someone finds a super helpful piece of content on your blog, and then through the magic of the internet comes back again later you want them to think ‘ohhh, I was here before!’ If you website is constantly being revamped and restyled weekly or monthly, visitors might not recognize it.
Center aligning text works for titles and 1 liners of text, however center aligning paragraphs of information is very much so frowned upon, and hard to read. UXMovement gives a great explanation, so I’ll let them take it away.
“Left aligned text is easier to read than centered text for paragraphs. This is because when you center your text, the starting place of each line changes. This forces your users to work harder to find where each line begins to continue reading. Without a straight left edge, there is no consistent place where users can move their eyes to when they complete each line,” (UXMovement.com)
Before you even open your preferred website building platform, it’s important to understand your websites purpose, and the Calls To Action you want your site visitors to act on. Are you trying to book clients, sell products, have visitors sign up to your email list? Determining your primary CTA’s should happen prior to your site design beginning.
To get visitors to take action on your CTA’s, it’s best to think out the content strategy. It’s important to know what’s going to go on your site and how your content will flow, leading your visitors to your ultimate websites purpose. A content strategy helps you determine your most important content, and arrange your website around your primary CTA’s.
Design-wise websites with ample spacing around the edges of the site, and in between content on each page makes a site more visually appealing by making it feel more light and airy as opposed to cramped and heavy.
As we all know, technology updates move quick, this also goes for websites. Mobile friendliness is now vital, but it wasn’t just a few years ago. Web design style trends also change year to year. To keep your website looking fresh, modern, and meeting current tech demands, a site overhaul is suggested every 3-4 years.
On blog posts, ask readers to comment, share, download a related opt-in gift, etc. On pages of a site, lead visitors to the sales page, contact page, opt-in page, etc. Every page should have a direction of where to head next. For optimal effectiveness, give just 1 call to action, as opposed to many.
A website should have a consistent look and feel to it, as opposed to a hodgepodge mish mash of styles. A great way to keep consistency is to pick a total of 2 fonts. If you want to differentiate some text utilize the bold, italic and uppercase functions. When setting your headings and body text styles you may feel free to change colors for some visual interest while still keeping things clean and consistent.
While determining the perfect font size has gotten more difficult with the variety of screens websites are being viewed on these days, a safe rule of thumb is 16pt-18pt font for body text.
With every decision you make when creating your website just know that simple is almost always the correct answer. A tell-tale sign of a DIY’ed website is a hot mess of detail overload with many bits of content screaming for attention at every turn.
There you have it, you’re basically a designer now … sorta. Go create that fab website! Need a little more help? Check our these resources!