Web Design Best Practices
Yes, a web design project is a huge undertaking. Not just for your web developer/designer, but for you as well. It involves a lot of time, planning, trust and communication to make things work seamlessly, and sometimes, not even then! The thing is, it’s not just about hitting deadlines, it’s making sure your website reflects your brand and your niche. It should help you achieve your goals and not hinder them. Your website should be easy to use, with tutorials to help you figure out the difficult stuff. So with that being said, here are
5 best practices to make your website look POLISHED and AMAZING!
Visuals are everything. Professionally taken photos work best but if that’s not in your budget, you can also use a smartphone or a point-and-shoot camera to take your pictures. YES! It is possible. You just need to make sure they are bright, crisp and large enough for web use. Photos taken in natural light, in the right conditions work really well. The first thing people see when they look at a photo are your eyes, so make sure they shine and have a catchlight in them. It makes your photo look alive, brightens your face and most importantly, establishes a bond with your viewer. Body language is also essential – it depends on your niche but I’d usually avoid pictures with unsmiling faces, crossed arms, torso turned away from the camera, and other defensive stances. So SMILE!
The most important thing to consider when you think about your color scheme is your niche. Now, color theory is a whole post unto itself but you can’t go wrong with sticking with best practices. You can also use color schemes of popular websites (don’t worry, it’s not copying) in your niche or use everyday objects for inspiration. You often see blues and greens for corporate websites like banks (Paypal, Capital One), social media (Facebook, Twitter) because it evokes a sense of trust and stability. For luxury brands and artists – black and white works really well because it will draw the eye to pictures and products, anything will pop. Do not neglect white space, the eye needs to travel a bit to make sense of your content. It is best to stick to 2-3 colors for your color scheme, anything more will make your website look sloppy and will cause visual overload.
Your designer will usually suggest fonts that will reflect your overall brand and be conservative enough to make your content easy to digest. Your typography should, first and foremost, be readable. Of course, you are free to suggest your own but here are some things to remember:
- Headers – large bold fonts are used to catch attention, visual cues that guide the reader that the content is moving to another paragraph or if you really want to emphasize something in your content.
- Main content – Serif (Playfair, Times New Roman) or sans-serif fonts are great for your text, but sans-serif (Arial, Helvetica) fonts are best for consuming web content. There should be enough whitespace in your main content, anything too smushed together will make it difficult for your reader to follow your content. No script fonts here, please.
- Accent fonts – Here’s where script fonts really get a chance to shine. When executed well, they look great on quotes or catchphrases.
There are no iron-clad rules but for the layout of your website, there are industry best practices that people prefer when navigating content.
- Logo – most logos are found in the top left and are clickable and redirect to the homepage.
- Contact information – these are usually found on the top right, along with social media icons or if you have a shop, your cart.
- Navigation – most websites have their navigation at the top of the page, horizontal and in full view. For mobile websites, this is usually hidden but accessible in one tap.
- Call to Action – this is usually found above the fold (before you scroll) or high up in your home page. They should be clear and eye catching enough so they can be effective in aiding your conversions.
Your website SHOULD be usable on mobile devices. This is non-negotiable. You will be hard-pressed to find a web designer nowadays who will not design for mobile (if they refuse to do it, LEAVE). It is an industry standard and is a major factor when they begin lay outing your pictures and content. This year, traffic from mobile devices (tablets, smartphones) surpassed that of traditional desktop and laptop computers. It’s a major sign that how people consume their online content is evolving. Responsive design aids in conversions and will make your audience stick with you.
So there you have it! Remember, you invest a considerable amount of time and money to create a website, it should be something that reaches your audience, converts well, reflects your brand and aesthetic but should be easy to digest, pleasant to look at and is easy to navigate.
Your website shouldn’t be just any old soapbox that you can stand on and preach, it should be YOUR magnificent stage.
Find the right designer and trust them to guide you, they will steer you in the right direction. And if you happen to disagree with me, that’s fine too. The great thing about the internet is that the BEST fit for you is out there. So find the right designer out there and go for it! If you have more questions, email me at [email protected], I’d be happy to answer them!