Planning your web design
Planning is an important step to success when it comes to website design.
Many newbies to the process forget to plan what they actually want with their website before getting started.
When you hire a web designer, you should have a general idea of what you want – otherwise they may create something you don’t want. If you don't know exactly what you want, your designer should help you explore different designs and looks at the beginning.
Same goes for if you’re designing your own website – having a plan is going to make the overall process much easier.
Here are some things to think about when planning your web design:
- Your brand – what are your logo colours, company values, etc.?
- The purpose of your site – do you want to drive sales or simply inform?
- Features you want – will you include a blog, videos, etc.?
- Your target audience – what will appeal to your ideal customer?
- Competitors – what is the industry standard?
Start with layout and menu navigation
Remember, your website acts as your shop front. And your customers form an opinion of you in a matter of seconds.
Your home page is the first thing your visitors see.
So ultimately, your website design on your home page is the initial deciding factor of whether your visitors choose to stay or leave your site.
When deciding on a layout and menu consider these tips:
- Capture your target audience. Your web design should be eye-catching and memorable – think bold headers, stunning imagery and captivating language. Such tools will help you stand out from competitors.
- Clearly exhibit who you are and what you do. Your choice of content and overall home page web design should clearly tell your customer what it is you do.
- Simple to navigate. In this day and age, people are accustomed to technology doing things for them. Your design should guide the visitor easily with sharp headers, strong calls to action, and clear links.
- Less is more. When designing your website, be careful not to crowd it with too many images or long paragraphs of content. When it comes to web design, you want to communicate the core message of your company in a concise and interesting way.
- Position your elements with strategy. Designing a website takes careful consideration. For example, the top half of your home page is the first thing your visitors see; therefore it should be simple and engaging – think videos, images and powerful headers.
- Be original with your menu. When choosing your web pages be original where you can. For instance, if you’re an ecommerce site use terms like “shop workwear” instead of “our products”.
Design theme and style
A big part of designing a website is choosing a theme and style for your site.
A common mistake people often make here is failing to align a theme with their industry. For example, if you’re a brokerage firm, would you go for a professional, minimalist theme, or a bright, busy theme? The first one of course.
So a key thing to remember when it comes to your web design theme and style, is to not pick on random, but rather; align your theme with the ‘theme’ of your business.
Whether you’re designing your own website, or working with a professional, here are some things to think about:
- What is the personality of your business?
- What is the industry standard?
- What are your competitors doing?
- What will your target audience expect?
Answering these questions will help you – and your designer – figure out the best theme and style for your new web design.
Aligning a colour scheme with your brand
Did you know that 85% of consumers purchase products based on colour?
Just like you should align your design theme and style with your business, you also need to align your colour scheme.
As colour is such as definitive element that impacts consumer decisions, taking your time to discuss an appropriate colour scheme with your designer – or doing your own research – will be a valuable tool for your web design in the long run.
While figuring out your colour scheme, have these ideas in mind:
- Brand alignment. When choosing a colour scheme, think about colours that represent your business? For example, use colours from your logo.
- Know the meaning of your colours. Every colour has a meaning – yellow is vibrant and happy, but too many dark colours could come across as sad or unapproachable.
- Be appropriate. The colours you choose should align with your industry. If you’re a law firm – a serious industry – a colourful scheme wouldn’t be appropriate would it?
- Be consistent. There's nothing worse than a web design that has different colours on every page. Inconsistencies like this appear careless and unprofessional.
Creating quality content
Web content encompasses a number of elements; from writing to fonts, to videos and images.
From a design perspective, here are our tips to consider when it comes to appearance, ease of use and general aesthetics of your web design.
A few things to think about when it comes to adding content to the web design mix:
- Readable fonts. Never sacrifice the readability of your content for a “fancy style” – if it isn't readable, it isn’t worth it. Fonts should be simple, professional and consistent, and generally one or two is enough.
- Eye-catching copywriting. Nowadays, people skim-read, so your writing needs to be short and “snappy” – think bullet points, headers, questions, etc. Don’t make your audience feel like they’re at school with essay-length paragraphs!
- Balance content with design. If you create your web design before your content be careful not to limit yourself to what you can fit in. On the other hand, sometimes it can be better to have your content ready to design around it.
- Captivating visuals. Did you know that some studies show that people remember 65% of images, in comparison to just 10% of written content? They say “a picture is worth a thousand words” – so make sure you choose wisely
Mobile-friendliness is key
Nowadays, almost everyone owns a smartphone. And you know what else? Almost all of them use their phone to research things they’re interested in.
Why are we telling you this?
Well, when it comes to how to design a website, something that is becoming absolutely vital is a mobile-friendly design.
It might sound easy enough, but actually many people overlook this when they create websites. Especially if they do it themselves.
If you are hiring a professional web designer then they know what they’re doing, however it is still important for you to be aware of.
- Hiring a web designer? Choose an experienced agency. When choosing your designer, do your research and look at example sites they have created – but remember, look on both your computer and your smartphone!
- Doing it yourself? Choose a mobile-friendly template. When starting from scratch – particularly if you’re new to web design – ensure you choose a platform and template that has positive reviews of mobile-friendliness, and test as you go!
- Is your design responsive? When it comes to mobile-friendly web design, the most vital thing you should be doing is ensuring your design fits all screen sizes. Also, you should figure this out from the very beginning!
- Is your site speedy and easy to navigate? Every link that your web visitor clicks on throughout your site should be 1) easy to find and 2) should load quickly – not to mention they better work!
- Is your text legible and skim-proof? Nowadays, everyone skim-reads – in fact, you probably are right now – your text should have snappy headers, short paragraphs, and clear fonts. Basically, the more clear your text is, the more mobile-friendly it is.
Designing for a better customer experience
In the end, the purpose of your website is to impress your target audience, correct?
And one of the greatest tools to drive your target customer to make a purchase or get in contact is a positive customer experience.
Every design element we have discussed so far makes up the customer experience. When you compile these web design elements together, you should always have the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) in mind.
So how do you do this?
- UX is the overall user experience on your website. Your web design should incorporate elements that are relevant to your target audience (e.g. language), and should be simple to follow – the overall UX should be straightforward and enjoyable.
- UI is the user interface between your website and customer. When it comes to achieving a positive UI, in the most basic sense, your web design should give your customer an experience of ease, efficiency and enjoyability. Your visitor should be able to input minimal effort and receive maximum outputs.
What you need to know about the link between web design and UX/UI is plain:
1. If your site poses a struggle to your users they will leave.
2. This means a loss of potential customers and sales.
3. This then results in bad word of mouth and a lowered SEO ranking.
The impacts of a poorly designed website create a domino effect; resulting in negative impacts on your business.
Keeping your website fresh
Web design is a constant process of refinement
It’s 2019, and technology and the internet only growing and improving every day.
So as to keep up with web design trends and keep in line with what Google is looking for, you need to keep your website current and up to date.
Once you have launched your website, keeping current is a continuous process of change.
Update your content regularly, keep a blog of what's happening in the industry, and replace visuals to keep it your web design refreshing and current.
All in all, your website outputs – i.e. positive experiences and sales – will be what you make it. So make it a good one!