Things to Consider When Designing a Website

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Published: 08th November 2012
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The internet has become an almost inescapable part of day to day life; it seems almost laughable in this day and age for a company to not have its own website. Websites are like shop windows for you or your company, in that they can be used to attract and invite users or customers. But they are much more as they are the main means that you can connect with and present information to the world about who you are and what you stand for. This means, therefore, that website design is crucially important.

The most important part of any website is the content - no one will stay for very long on your website if it has bad content or little useful content. You need to make sure your content is engaging, accurate and appropriate for your target audience. Thinking about why people will be coming to your site will help you create the 'filling' for your site - what information do they want and what problems do they have that need solving? Don't forget your content in your quest to make your site appealing in visual and functional terms. Even if you have the most amazingly designed site on the internet, if you have terrible content visitors will not stay very long. Good content will also help your website to rank on search engines which can be important for getting your site noticed.

Once you have figured out your content, what will actually make up your site, you can think about the way that your site looks and functions. The layout and appearance of your site are key aspects of web design.

Think about complimentary colours for your colour scheme and steer away from anything too fluorescent or harsh on the eyes. Your users need to like looking at your site! Don't use too little or too much white space - just enough negative space should be easy on the eyes and give some 'breathing room' for your content. The colours you choose should be readable: steer away from using a light grey font on a white background or blue on a black background.

Choose your font carefully. In general sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Helvetica, tend to work better on screen while serif fonts, like Garamond or Times New Roman, can be read more easily in print. Try to avoid using lots of different font colours and sizes on one page as it can look disorganised and messy. Think about which fonts will make you look more professional, Comic Sans is fine for a personal family website but looks unprofessional on a business site.

Keep the layout simple. Don't over-clutter it so your users can't see what they are looking at. Where possible try to stick to a grid layout, rather than anything asymmetrical as it will make your site look well-organised. Many people find horizontal scrolling very irritating, so make sure your site is not too wide for the average screen.

Closely linked with layout, navigation is the 'map' for your website. Your users should be able to navigate your website easily; they should know how to get where they want to go. Your navigation links and elements should be grouped together not spread sporadically through the text. Label your links with precise and understandable phrases. Research has shown that people tend to scan web-pages, looking for the information they want - using titles, subheadings and avoiding walls of text will help them do this.

Rapidly increasing numbers of people are accessing their favourite websites through their smart-phones or tablets - if your site is not mobile device friendly you can be cutting out a large chunk of your traffic. Many websites now choose to have a mobile version of their website that is in essence the same as their main site but much easier to use on a mobile phone. Accessibility can also refer to how easy it is to get to your site, no one likes long loading times, unavoidable videos or numerous splash-pages and they can put people off returning to your site. Streamline your website. Make it easy for people to find the content they want from your site and you will find that they are more likely to come back again.

Think carefully about how you use graphics, images and video on your website. Don't use so many that it slows your site down to a snail's pace. Videos and music that automatically start to play may also frustrate your users and put them off staying for long on your site - especially if they cannot find how to turn them off! In a similar vein, stay away from creating your whole site in Flash or over-using it. Flash does not work on mobile devices and can slow down your website. Using Flash can also make it difficult for search engines to index the material on your website and can end up relegating it to the twentieth page.

When designing your website, there can be quite a lot to take in and consider. Depending on your experience and skill in building and designing a website, you may want to think about hiring a professional to build it for you. With a good web design agency they will use their expertise and experience to devise a website for you but you can still put in input about how you want the site to be.

Izzy Evans 2012

If you would like to find out more about professional web design services then you can visit Web Design London.

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