Before we go into details of designing a website, we need to understand how each and every website works and what purpose they serve. I’m not going to cover the technical aspects of design (coding), but I will try to cover most of the things that you need to know and understand before you design a website.
Every website serves a different purpose. When you design a website, you need to take into consideration what type of website that you’re about to design. Is it a portfolio site, a personal site, blog site or a business site? And according to your or your clients’ needs you choose what kind of platform you want to use. There are so many Applications and Templates that your web provider will offer. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla… etc. Some of them are free and for some of them you have to pay a little extra. Feel free to use them, but they’re not custom made. Sometimes it can mean that your website will not look and feel original. You want to stand out from the croud. But you don’t even have to have a coding knowledge to install them. It’s very easy to install, and once you’ve installed your application you can install plugins to design you website to your taste.
You can design your own website, if you know how to design, but of course if you’re not that savvi computer user, you can always ask the professional to do the job. And it’s equally important that you brief your designer well. Be clear about what you want and what you don’t want. The last thing you want to do is, you go through the design process with your designer ( he will walk you through it ) and when the website is ready to go up, you go ‘I don’t really like the colour’.- That’s what happens with many of the clients that we face. They don’t really know what they want, but they know what they want is now.
Having a website is more than a necessity for businesses nowadays. It is a must-have thing. Having a good, functional website means a growth in your business. My main focus on web designing is functionality. Good functional websites that are built using the web standards can bring you a lot of web traffic. Eventually it will mean that your business will be a success.
My guidelines when creating websites are to follow the web standards.- Standards that are the present and the future in web design. Web sites created using web standards are fast loading, high ranked in search engines and easy to update. When creating web sites I keep in mind the following:
Easy to navigate around
Search Engine Optimization
There are many web browsers out there, like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, …etc. And now with the I-Phone and I-Pad and Smart Phones you really need to follow the web standards. And when you design a website you need to make sure that there are no compatibility issues across browsers. I will write a separate blog post on this subject later.
You need to make sure that your website is user friendly. Use a logical navigation structure. When designing your site navigation menu, use logical headings and link descriptions. For example, ‘web site design services’ is much more intuitive to a visitor than ‘Internet services’. Guide Visitors to specific pathways throughout your site.
Check for errors regularly. There’s nothing worse than browsing a site or following a link only to find that it leads nowhere.
Make sure your site does not contain spelling or grammatical mistakes. If you’re not the world’s best speller, it’s always a good idea to have trusted friends and colleagues to check your site copy for errors. When proofing your site, remember to take into account regional spelling usage for different audience worldwide, e.g. British vs American English.
Ensure All Forms Work. It sounds obvious and it should be. If you’re going to make your website interactive with feedback forms, newsletter sign-ups, guest books and the like, then make sure they work! Double check each form field is large enough to accommodate even the longest of names. Think about your international visitors when creating fields such as Zip Code. Make it clear which fields are required. Test the form to make sure it submits correctly and displays the right confirmation message upon completion.
Obviously your website needs to be fast when loading. Otherwise the potential customers will not wait a whole minute for the page to be loaded. I don’t know if it’s true, the average time that a visitor spends when looking for a service is 5 seconds. 5 seconds is all it takes to decide. So it’s important actually to have a fast loading and slick looking website.
The word itself says it all. Your pages should look and feel consistent throughout the entire website. Use a Consistent Design and Layout. Common sense rules here – make sure you use a consistent design and layout for each page on your website. This means using the same general colour scheme, logo, consistent navigation menu, header and footer in the same location and consistent link attributes (e.g. always underlined). This way you never alienate your visitor or cause them to become confused and lose their momentum to keep looking.
Easy to navigate around
I’ve seen some websites where it’s quite confusing to navigate around. On one page the navigation bar will be on the top part of the browser window and on the next page the navigation bar will be somewhere on the right hand side of the browser and on the next page it’s on the left…and etc. That confuses people, and visitors will not like that. Instead of trying to navigate around your website, they will leave your website and look for another website, which offers the same service. And that’s where you lose your potential clients.
This is a subject that needs a bit more time to talk about. There are a lot of ways and techniques to have your website on the top of the list on some big search engines. There is the plain old meta tags, which can be useful, but today’s search engines don’t pay too much attention to them. But giving good meta descriptions to the pages on your website is a good idea. And also give a title to each page on your website. Remember the page title is what’s shown on the search result. So giving a good descriptive title is important.
Internal and External links. Your website pages should be well linked with each other. Not just by words like “click here” or “follow the link”, but the linking words should be relative to the pages linked to it. And use other big websites to promote your business. –Like twitter.com, facebook.com or youtube.com for instance. It boosts the ranking a lot.
h1, h2. Use of headers and subheaders not only can be useful for visitors to easily navigate, but these tags are loved by search engines. h1 for the main header, h2 for subheaders, h3, h4, h5, h6 can be used for further subheaders, but h4, h5,h6 are used rarely.
I will write a whole article about SEO in one of the next few blog posts.
If I missed any point here, feel free to leave a comment.