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Wednesday 23 July 2014

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Ever Wondered What Makes A Good Website Design?

Things to ponder on before launching in

Let’s face it…most people know a good website design when they see it. There’s an inexplicable sense of wow, and something about it just clicks. Everything is easy to read, easy on the eye, easy to find and somehow it just looks good. We want to stay and browse…we feel comfortable!

But what is it that sets a particular home page apart from the competition? We all wonder about the answer to that question when starting on the road to getting our own website built for us. We want our site to stand shoulder to shoulder with other amazing website designs, and yet, when asked by our web designer to outline the look and feel (or even come up with colour ideas), it's somehow astoundingly difficult. We stall on filling in that project planner or specs questionnaire. So what is it that professional web designers do that the rest of us find so hard to even contemplate?

The key to good design websites is pretty straightforward when you know how: you just need to understand the common rules of effective design and consistently follow them. First of all, get clear on the objective of the website, and come up with the best functionality and visuals to achieve that aim. The layout must be intuitive and key things should stand out.

There are several aspects to be considered when contemplating how to make a successful website, such as: What sort of demographic are you appealing to? What kind of images and graphics will most enhance the content? Which pages will go in your navigation menu? There are plenty of good website design examples out there, but let’s first look at some of the most basic design rules.

Let's start with the visuals

1) Keep things free of clutter. Excessive text (words and selling points) crammed together all seeking attention just comes across as annoying or messy. Separate out the text into short paragraphs to make it simple to read. Adding white space between text and images makes a good impression. White space creates order and reduces stress. It makes the content that much easier to engage with. Using bite sized chunks of info rather than reams in huge blocks of text also makes the reader feel less overwhelmed. Bullet points are great too. This makes the site look clean and well thought out. And don’t cram each page with multiple topics that scroll down and down…keep each page very specific and create a new page for each individual niche focal point. Again, this uses the concept that bite sized chunks make the visitor consumes more.

2) Select your colours with care. Be bold by all means, but not overly bright, and only use strong colours as accents. Colours should be a combination of complementary colours, so use a colour chart or colour picker to help. There’s nothing worse than arriving on a website where you have to squint to read the words, so make sure your background and text colour combination won’t have a weird effect on the eyes. To be honest, however much you might imagine something unique would be cool, black and dark grey text on a white or neutral background is the safest bet. Save your colourful text to accentuate paragraph headings.

3) A few things to guard against. There are website elements that some people think will be great but are in fact hideous! If you’re aiming to create one of the world’s most amazing website designs then avoid the following like the plague…

* Music that comes on automatically. Sounds like a cool idea but never is…people like to choose what they hear and will leave straight away;

* Videos that start automatically are not a great idea either. A well placed video above the fold will draw visitors to find out more, but let them press play;

* Slideshows that go fast. Or slides in the banner area at all. I’m very skeptical about moving slideshows unless used sparingly and with care;

* Animated graphics the jump around on the page distracting visitors from your main objective and driving them nuts. It will drive them away.

So give a lot of thought to first impressions. You need to ask yourself what is the thing your visitors will think in the initial split second after landing on your home page. Does it seem professional? Does your website look like it will be easy to find key information or not?

And what about functionality?

1) Finding your way around. Potential clients need to be able to quickly find what they need. So having a clear navigation menu in a prominent place is important to start with. Then make sure your menu tabs have names that are short and to the point…so it’s easy to understand what the page the link leads to is about.

2) Key features and info. These are best placed “above the fold” (on the top part of the web page that is visible without having to scroll down), and your most immediately relevant, eye catching, attention grabbing features on the home page…make visitors sit up and take notice, then make them want to explore!

3) Call to action. Adding a call to action button, feature or link about halfway down the home page is a good idea. These buttons, text or graphics tell the people to "do" something. That might be “read more”, “click here to get a free sample”, “subscribe to our newsletter”, “enter our online shop” or “request a quote”. Link the call to action to the relevant page on the website.

All these factors combined make for good design websites! If you are thinking about design and what info to give your website designer, consider all aspects of functionality and visuals before filling in your specs questionnaire or project planner form…and get planning!


Our dedicated, creative SEO and web design team is headed up by Helen Martin.
We are based in London and cover the whole of the UK and beyond.
The aim of these articles is to help clients understand the techy ins and outs.
We are committed to doing that in a straightforward, jargon free zone!