20 Nov Successful Website Design – The Key Ingredients
Websites come in all shapes and sizes, but there are certain characteristics that are fundamental to all successful websites. A well designed site is a delight to be on. It is built with the visitor in mind, and serves them the information they are looking for quickly and efficiently. It is also optimized to bring in the right traffic from search engines – traffic that will actually convert into customers.
A well designed website asks the big questions at the beginning of the process, and uses the answers as a road map throughout the rest of the design process. You need to ask questions like: What is the purpose of the site? What would make the site a success? How are you going to differentiate yourself from similar sites? What kind of emotions do you want people to feel? How will the site be maintained? Who is my target audience? How will they find my site? Nailing down answers to these types of questions early on helps make the design decisions later much easier.
Because you only have a very short period of time in which to “hook” your visitors, you need to create a reason for people to stay immediately. That means creating a compact and simple message that arouses interest right away. This should communicate a tone or feeling that represents your brand and makes people feel comfortable and interested in your products or services. This is often accomplished with beautiful images, creative typography, color usage, generous whitespace, and good copywriting. When done correctly it leaves your visitors with a very powerful impression that stirs action.
The organization of your website should make it simple for visitors to find the information they’re looking for. Your main navigation needs to be easily identifiable and and give users an immediate overview of what is on your site. Avoid using “cute” labels for your main navigation, and instead use one or two words that directly sums up what information can be found in each page or section.
A great site appears visually appealing and polished. Your design should convey the feeling and essence of the person or business behind it. A good design is very intentional about how it uses the following:
Whitespace refers to the spacing between the elements on your site. Good use of whitespace guides your visitors attention, it lets your design breathe. Websites that don’t use whitespace well feel cluttered and claustrophobic, but proper use of whitespace creates a calm and relaxed feeling.
The fonts used on a site say a lot about the business behind them, and contribute to the overall tone of the site. Variation in size, weight and placement of typography on your site helps create interest. It is important to strike the right balance with fonts. Avoid using too many different fonts on your site, and make sure your typography is easy to read at all times.
The images you use on your site require careful thought and consideration. Each image should have a clear purpose behind it, and they should be used to guide the attention of your visitors. Whenever possible, use photos with real people in them because they tend to resonate your average viewers. Don’t just put up an image for it’s own sake; make sure it contributes to the overall goal and of the site.
The colors on your site should be a natural fit with your business and brand. Are you trying to create a calm and relaxed feeling with your users? If so, try to create analogous or monochromatic color scheme. Want arouse action in your users? Try using a bold complementary color scheme.
Be sure not to overpower your design with too many colors. It’s easy for the colors on your site to turn into an unnecessary distraction if not used in the right way. Use color to draw attention to important information and calls to action. Put yourself in the minds of your target audience, and carefully consider the impact of each color decision on them.
Functionality and Usability
Everything on your site has to work as intended. That includes everything from links to forms to e-commerce shopping carts. Nothing frustrates users like a site that doesn’t work how it is supposed to: it’s a sure way to alienate your visitors.
A simple design cuts down on unnecessary design elements and reduces clutter. Ask yourself if each element is really needed, and if it’s not, remove it. Simple designs are the product of a well thought out process, and are by no means easy to execute. As Steve Jobs once said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
The speed of your site has a direct impact on how your users feel about it. Research says that users will abandon a site that does not load within several seconds. Make sure your site is coded properly and your images are optimized. Whenever possible, use page caching to speed up your site.
A well designed site works great across all devices. Test your site on multiple devices in both portrait and landscape mode, making sure the layout works at all screen sizes. Avoid making your users zoom in on the elements of your site when they are using a mobile device. Also, test the speed of your site on multiple mobile devices to ensure fast loading times.
Search Engine Optimization
A well designed website considers how people will find it in search engines. This can’t be an afterthought. It must be considered in the beginning of the project and used to determine everything from how the copy is written to how the pages are organized. Good SEO is more than just attracting a lot of traffic – it’s about bring the right traffic that is looking for exactly what you’re offering on your site.
There are over 200 factors that go into determining how your website will rank with Google, and it’s impossible to discuss them all here. But, the fundamentals of good SEO are determining how your target audience will try to find your site in search engines, what keywords and phrases they will use, and incorporating that language into your design in a way that is easy for Google to read and index.
As you can see, it takes a lot of thought and consideration to create a successful website. All elements of the site need to work together and complement one another. A beautiful design is just the beginning of what it takes to make a website a success.