Everyone of us needs to have a website that is properly designed. But what are the qualities that make a great website design? I find it to be a very broad topic, one that cannot be completely covered on a single page. However, I find that nearly all elements necessary for a professional website design, fall under four aspects which will make the subject of our discussion. If you are building a new site or want to have your site improved, go through this page and you’ll be on the right direction towards creating a great website that will provide a positive experience to your visitors.
On this page you’ll read about the four basic aspects of a good website design which are:
Search Engine Optimisation
Let us digress a bit and take a look at visitors’ behaviour at a webpage. They go through pages, stop at a page which they found interesting. They glance at it, scan some text on it and go on to click on the first link which caught their interest, leaving the larger part of the page unread or not even looked at.
If the page provides high quality content, they are ready to compromise the content with the website’s design and the advertisements that surround it. To them content is much more important than other design features. Now if the new page did not meet their expectations, they look for a way back and continue with the search process. In short, visitors don’t read, they scan and search for anchors which will guide them through the rest of the web page.
A good website design, therefore, is one that aims at satisfying visitors expectations taking into account the above customer behavioral pattern.
Visual Design Of A Website
Website Appearance And Consistency
A good website design must have a good looking and attractive layout. It should look professional. Your website is the visitors’ first impression of your company, products and the services you provide. Remember, you have only about 10 seconds to entice your visitor to read your website. A poorly designed and unattractive website will do more harm to your business than help it .
Plan your website to look unique and reflect to your type of business. Here we are talking about picking the right theme if you’re using a Content Management System (CMS) like wordPress. Pick one website layout and stick to it. Consistency in website layout is important for usability.
Your prime goal in designing your website should be to keep it simple. Cluttered layouts don’t allow visitors to focus on the message that is being provided.
Give your content white space. The term white space doesn’t mean the space should necessarily be white. It simply means empty space on a page (sometimes called negative space). The use of proper margins, writing content into small paragraphs and leaving lines between paragraphs will enhance focus and legibility and helps the page to look more elegant. Readers don’t like to go over a sea of text.
Always think about the graphics you put on the pages. Use only graphics that add value and support the message you deliver. Basically visitors are looking for content which will help them and not for advertisements and aesthetics. To them the best website design consists of pure text. Don’t overload your site with complex features, animation and other effects. A web page with more than 3-4 graphics looks clumsy. Don’t put anything that has nothing to do with the message you’re delivering.
Usability Of A Website
Website Organisation Or Information Architecture
This refers to the way the information on your website is structured. It is important to have beforehand a clear map of how your website will work. Information should be logically categorized and placed where your visitors might expect to find it.Think in the perspective of your visitors. A well organized and structured website is not only important for user experience but for the ranking of your site.
The domain name for your website should be catchy, make sense for your business, easy to remember and not consisting of quirky spelling or hyphens. It should be a name you use in the social platforms. Preferably your top level domain should be a .com, though the .org and .net aren’t so bad. Get more on this from “How To Select Your Domain name“. The title of your website should be a keyword that clearly explains what your website is about. The domain name, website title together with the description are fundamental in exciting people about your business and in the ranking of your website.
Contact information allows visitors to interact with the owner(s) of the site and helps to generate leads for the business. Don’t get your customers frustrated in trying to contact your business. Your phone number, email addresses and contact form should be easily accessible and visible The use of an email for your domain name shows professionalism. A good location for the “Contact Us” link is the upper right or within the menu. Make the contact information available on each page of your website.
Good website navigation is the most important element of website usability. A good website design makes it easy to the users to know how the system works and how to go from one point to another point.The visitors should be able to find out information they are looking for without frustration. Navigation buttons should be easily found and identified. Text printed on the navigation buttons should explicitly tell where it is sending the user to. Good site navigation design reduces the cognitive load to the visitor making them understand better the purpose of your website. People don’t use a website where they cannot find their way around.
A website that is slow to download is very frustrating and will cause a lot of your visitors to navigate away to your competitors’ sites increasing your bounce rate. With a slow site you will loose a lot of your visitors and since many search engines consider web page loading speed, it will have a negative effect on your ranking. A website’s loading speed of within 4-6 seconds is considered not to be bad. You can check your site’s speed using a tool like Pingdom.
Among the factors contributing to websites low speed include: number and size of graphics, sound, volume of traffic to the website, website coding, third party plugins and widgets, server speed and the bandwidth allocated to your website.
Precautions and measures to to be taken include:
1.Making proper choice of hosting company. Here check for server speed and the amount of bandwidth they provide to your website
2. Use sound, big graphics and flash animation sparingly in your site
3. Limit the use of plugins and widgets, use only those which are absolutely necessary
Browser And Mobile Compatibility
There still are some inconsistencies in the way different browsers interpret web pages. It is, therefore, important to check how your website appears and behaves across all the major browsers including Chrome, Internet explorer, Firefox, Opera and Safari.
Many people do browse on the web using smartphones and tablets and their numbers grow as these devices become cheaper. These devices have smaller screens of varying sizes. A good website design ensures readability to all devices including the handheld devices by use of responsive themes.
It is always written that “Content is King”. People surf the internet primarily to find useful information. They look for information to solve their problems.
The web surfers have very short attention spans, they don’t read a page word for word. They skim through the content on a page looking for interesting parts. To them the usefulness of a website is, therefore, judged by the quality of content it delivers.
To have a good website design, provide valuable information to visitors in a sensible and in a format that is easy to use. Make use of headlines, sub-headlines, bullets and lists to divide your content. Break your content into small easy to read paragraphs and introduce photos or images relating to what you are talking about preferably to the left or under the paragraphs. Choose photos and images of proper size, don’t use an image if it’s too small.
The content of your website should be constantly updated. People don’t read a website with static content. The lines of text should not be too long, they should be about 50-80 characters long. For more information on how to write content on a page, read “How to write Your Content on your page“.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation is an important aspect of a good website since it enables it to get a good position in the search engines rankings. To get information from the internet, a web surfer types a search query and the search engine produces the search engine result page(s) (SERPs). To get a position in the first page of the search engine result pages, your site must be ranked high for the keyword in the visitor’s search query. A website that cannot be found by the users is useless.
Search engine optimisation is a very broad topic and a number of rules and guidelines have been written on this subject.You can get more on the subject from “How to prepare your website for search engine optimisation“, “The essentials of site traffic building“, and “How To Get A High Page Rank On Google” just to mention a few of the topics I’ve written on this subject.
We have seen the four aspects of website design important to provide a positive and seamless experience to your visitors: The visual design of your website, usability of a website, utility and search engine optimisation. For more information on the topic you can visit other topics on what are the steps to build a website, what is the the best wordPress theme and essentials of article writing.
Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions on the topic.