These days, almost every company has a website. They’re great for reaching new users, or for providing information to customers you already have. You can even use them to collect information, instead of polls taken by phone or mail. But it’s a common pitfall, thinking that you can just write anything and use it to attract customers. These web design tips will help you create a site that really shines.
Your website is nothing without content – that is, the actual information and services you’re trying to provide. Never skimp on this information in favor of flashy images or layout! While the visuals are very important, your website still won’t be good for your users if it’s all surface and no substance. For this reason you also want to avoid having too many advertisements – or advertisements that are obnoxious.
The type of advertisements you use is another very important factor. Avoid using flashing ads, pop-up windows, and other advertisements that will make your site run slower. Annoying ads alienate your users and make them want to stay away from your site. You should also be sensitive to people with slower connections; this means no automatically-playing music, slow-loading background images or Flash animations that you cannot skip.
Organization is a big part of all design. You want to make it so that it’s easy for users to read and navigate through your site. Plan out ahead of time all the information that you need to convey to your readers, and separate it into several related pages. And while a large splash page at the beginning of your site may seem attractive, scrap it unless it has actual, useful content – otherwise it’s just an obstacle you’re setting up for your customers before they can get to the real info.
Then there’s the issue of how easy it is to get around your site. Don’t bury all the links to other pages in the middle of large bodies of text if you can help it – though it’s fine to also have links there, you’ll want to have a menu somewhere on the page that allows users to easily move from place to place. Don’t overlook including a link to your site’s homepage! Plenty of users like being able to start at the beginning of your site, and you can’t rely on them just using their browser’s back button if they ended up in the middle through an off-site link or search engine.
Keeping your site readable is simple. Make sure the color of your text is very different from the color of your background. White backgrounds are best, and if you’re using an image, the text needs to be on a solid-colored portion or it may be unreadable. It’s also important to have your text in a column that isn’t as wide as the page, as it makes it easier for readers to move to the next line. Try reading your site in several different screen resolutions to check that it works in all of them.
Of course, for the sake of accessibility, you want users to be able to contact you. Your contact page should be easy to find, easy to read, and have only correct, up-to-date information. It’s especially helpful if a visitor can just email you straight from your site. This is necessary for websites that sell or offer goods or services, and often helpful even for informational websites. That way, your information can be corrected or updated by your users!
Of course, even after you’ve designed a website with all these tips, it will need testing. This is often easiest if you ask someone else to look over your site; what may seem just perfect to you could be confusing for someone else. Get a group with different browsers, operating systems, and computer processors to look over your website! You won’t regret it.
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