But how do you design a great website? There are enough tools out there to be able to put together a good website for your business, but what if you are designing the site yourself? Here are 10 steps that will help you design the perfect website for whatever need you may have:
1. Knowing What You Want and Need
You can be an author, a restaurant or a business selling products and services over the web, but whatever you need a website for, you also need to know what you want and what you need from the site. Is it an ecommerce site that customers will buy goods from? Is it a blog to showcase your skills and portfolio – like a writer or photographer would need? Once you know what the site is for, you will be able to make a list of things you will need for the site, and you can start planning accordingly.
2. Have a Clear Plan of Action
Once you know what your site needs to feature, you can formulate the plan of action – including the theme of the site, the look and the feel, and the navigation. The plan should be put together in the form of drawings and sketches first, and if you are working as part of a design team, it is crucial that the team are in complete agreement so that the design of the site is consistent throughout.
3. Choosing Your Style and Layout
The style and layout of the website needs to blow the mind of the user, yet be simple for them to navigate and experience. There is a five second rule attached to websites: If a visitor clicks onto your site and it doesn't look the part, you will lose them almost instantly. Take the time to choose a style that will suck the visitor in and get them excited for the rest of their time on site. It is also important that the style is consistent to the type of business/subject that the site is about.
4. Choosing Your Colour Scheme
If you look at certain sites – Facebook, Google and Vimeo spring to mind – they have a consistent colour scheme that becomes part of the brand itself. Imagine if Facebook changed from blue to red… Would it lose some of its appeal? When customers associate certain colours with brands, it can often become part of the reason why the trust the brand. Consistency is important. With that in mind, you should choose a colour scheme that suits your brand and be consistent with it throughout your site, and the brand in general.
5. Having the Right Typography throughout Your Site
Typography plays a huge part in the UX of a site, and you should play around with different typography until you find one that suits your brand and will look great throughout the site. The main body text should be easy to read and clear on the screen, with nice bold Headers and Titles that draw the user in and catch the attention of web users. Just ensure that you are consistent throughout the site once you make a final decision so you don't confuse your readers.
6. Optimize the UX
When a visitor clicks through to your Home Page, they should get a clear indication of where they need to go next. This should come in the form of the navigational menus – either in text or text accompanied by images, and makes for a clean and simple UX where visitors can find their way around without an instructional manual. Simple doesn't have to be boring, just ensure that when you're not wowing the user, you're taking them on a guided tour of your site.
7. Search Engine Optimization
Google receives over 5 billion searches a day via its search engine, and your website can ill-afford to miss out on the kind of traffic that comes from having search engine optimization on your website. There are number of ways you can optimize your site for Google and the other search engines, including choosing the keywords you want to rank for and putting them in your web copy (including headers, image tags and video content) and by keeping your site design consistent with your brand and subject.
8. Optimize for Various Devices
With web enabled technology becoming more commonplace, your website needs to translate directly to smartphones, mobiles, tablets, desktops and tablets without become lost in transition. Many designers use responsive design to ensure that their sites look just as good on an iPhone as it does on a huge desktop screen. It is incredibly frustrating for a customer using a smartphone to visit a site and it not function properly, so be sure to design your site with different technologies in mind.
9. Be Unique
Your website should tick all the boxes in terms of UX, but it is also important that designers put their individual stamps on their work, particularly freelancers who want to give themselves an edge over their competitors. This can come in the form of creating your own themes, typography or layouts, and can guarantee you a lot of work if your work looks beautiful and gets results for the businesses and individuals who use them.
10. Concentrate on the Details
The tiny details on a website are often what sets it apart from other sites, including social media icons, navigation, maps and more. Getting the basics right is something that sounds obvious but yet so many sites get it wrong, making for a confusing and frustrating experience. Even something like being able to Follow a business on Twitter without leaving the Home Page is a detail that makes for a better UX and makes it easier for you to get results from your site, so make sure you focus on the little things just as much as the bigger picture.
Sarah Gass is a freelance writer for Kiss Communications covering topics on website design, the latest SEO news and Social Media strategies.