Does your website give you a dynamic presence on the internet? Does it reflect your company’s brand and motivate visitors to become your customers? In the same way as you plan your logo, office space or store front, take care to build a website that works for you – not against you.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you work with your developer in designing or re-designing your site.
1. Site Objectives
Before you build, establish clear, specific objectives. Your objectives will inform every creative and technical decision that you make. Don't try to accomplish too much. Keep it simple and stay on target with a small number of achievable goals.
Your site should support you organization’s image. Your logo, corporate colors and the essential characteristics of who you are as a company should be clearly reflected in your website.
But don’t be too rigid. Your logo and colors should be included, but not all the elements from your latest brochure or your corporate video will necessarily translate well to your website. Web, print, video - these are different mediums with different requirements.
More generally, whether fun or serious, use colors and images that reflect who you are as a business and the message that you want to deliver to your clients.
Remember to use quality images and optimize them so that they download quickly.
3. Keep it Simple – Use Appropriate Technology
“Keeping it simple” is a great maxim to remember for almost everything that we do in life. In website design, we have another saying, “Just because you can do it, it doesn’t mean that you should do it.”
You may have come across a website that has some great bells and whistles, but these features might not work for your message or audience. In my website I have included a number of ajax and jQuery effects as a way to highlight some of my skills. For example, I have included flip boxes on the front page and, on other pages, content that scrolls up and fades into view.
However, this kind of presentation will not work for most business sites. A business typically wants to deliver key information quickly – perhaps with a slide show at the top of your home page. Your audience may prefer a “no-nonsense” approach to reading your content. In this case scrolling/fading text could have a negative impact.
4. Keep it Clean – Intuitive Navigation and Layout
Your website should be clear, structured and organized. Clean navigation and layout are essential to achieving a positive user experience.
Allow your users to focus on content and your message. Good navigation means that there is quick and easy access to information and that viewers always know where they are in the structure of your site.
Navigation menus should be easy to find and intuitive to use. Use simple, easy to read fonts and break up your information into bite size pieces. Allow the reader to quickly scan and understand what you have to offer with descriptive headings, sub-headings and callouts.
5. Less is more – Avoid Clutter
White or “negative” space is a crucial design element. Give your content room to breath and your visitors will be able to easily scan your site and find the content that they are looking for. Don’t try to cram too much information into a small space.
6. Content is King – Keep It Relevant
When writing content and selecting images and video, always ask if the element adds value to your message, if it is important to your visitors and if it supports the objectives of your website.
Gain your client’s interest and loyalty by including content that is important to them. You can do this through a blog or by providing key information as part of your website structure. For example, a mortgage broker may want to provide current mortgage rates as a mainstay part of the site, and then use a blog to offer a perspective on mortgage trends.
Keep it fresh. To maintain and grow interest in your site, take the time to update your content.
7. SEO Foundation
Give your website a solid foundation by building SEO elements into its structure. Keyword and phrase identification; page title and file name optimization; and SEO friendly headings are among the important elements that should be incorporated into the construction of every site.
8. Responsive sites – Optimize viewing for all devices
One size does not fit all. Your website should be optimized for viewing on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Your developer should include code that allows content to be reorganized on the fly so that it looks its best on every kind of screen.