Top 10 Web Design Best Practices For Your Business Or Organization
Has your website become so outdated that you are embarrassed to share it with someone? Does the copyright at the bottom of the page say ©2006? Have you tried pulling up your website on your smartphone and your phone says “No, thank you”? If you are embarrassed by your website imagine what your potential customers and competition are thinking. If any of these hypotheticals ring true then your website is a dinosaur and it’s time for an upgrade. In this article we will discuss the top 10 web design best practices you will need to follow for your new website.
Web Design Best Practice #1.
A website that lacks consistency is a website with high bounce rates, which are people that visit your site but leave after the first page. Consistency is a key factor in User Experience and should be revered with fervor.
Consistency begins with your brand strategy. Your logo should be prominently placed on each page of the website, typically in the top left corner. The color palette and font conventions used in your logo should guide the entire web design. Page layout must also be consistent using limited design templates. Simplicity is key here. A good layout strategy is to design three templates: Home Page, Content Page, Blog Page. Some websites require additional design templates based on their content requirements, but as a general rule try to keep templates to a minimum. You want your website to appear uniform and whole and not an aggregate of individual web pages held together by duct tape.
Another consideration for consistency on a website is the use of imagery. As much as possible, use images with the same size dimensions. Be consistent with the theme of the images and their overall color palette. Use the images to define a narrative for your website and to tell a compelling story.
Web Design Best Practice #2.
Calls To Action
Calls To Action (CTA) are pre-defined, desired outcomes designed to drive users to take specific MEASURABLE actions on a website. CTA’s are psychological drivers you place on your website so that it may do its job in the absence of your presence. An effective website should have several CTA’s, including the obligatory contact request form, newsletter sign up, client portal login, shopping cart or links to social media pages. Terms like “Learn More” or “Sign Up Today” are part of CTA strategy. Effective CTA’s convert website visitors into customers.
As I just mentioned, CTA’s are measurable actions. There are two types of actions we can measure on a website, qualitative and quantitative, with the former being much more difficult to gauge. Qualitative measurements include the overall appeal the website may hold for a site visitor using such metrics as attractiveness, informativeness, helpfulness, ease of use and intuitive navigation. Quantitative measurements are all about analytics. For these, we use tools such as Google Analytics to understand how the website is performing. This can include website traffic, bounce rates, pages viewed per unique visitor, online purchases and contact from submissions.
Web Design Best Practice #3.
Custom design is the hallmark of all great web designs. Custom design differs from template designs in that it is created from the ground up, based on the custom brand assets and unique needs of the client that takes place in an iterative, hands-on process. A custom-designed website is the absolute best way to represent your brand and your business to your audience.
To learn more about the differences between a custom design and a template design check out our article How Much Does A Website Cost?
Web Design Best Practice #4.
As they say in marketing, Content is King. This rule applies to the web with equal weight. Content is ultimately what creates a website. Content creates the narrative. Content drives the storytelling. Content is a critical quality in making a great web design.
This is where your skills as a word-smith come in to play. A great web design requires strong, convincing and “evergreen” content that is unique and free of any potential plagiarism that can ruin your reputation and search rankings with Google. Great web design has great content, which is a critical factor in converting site visitors to customers.
Web Design Best Practice #5.
If content is king, navigation is its queen. Simple, intuitive and consistent navigation is a critical factor in user experience and website performance. Good navigation allows users to find what they are looking for with the minimum effort and allows them to engage with the website as they see fit. Poor navigation leads to high bounce rates, as once the user becomes confused or frustrated they are likely to leave your website in search of a better experience.
Good navigation is based on sound Information Architecture, which is a process that takes place early on in the development of the website. We describe this process in detail in our article entitled Website Redesign: Our Methodology.
Web Design Best Practice #6.
In 2020, more people use their smartphones to access websites than their desktop computers. The need for a strong customer experience on mobile devices has never been more relevant. A clean, consistent user experience on desktop, tablet and smartphone is a requirement in today’s great web design. The solution is called Responsive Web Design.
A responsive website is an approach to web design that places User Experience (UX) at the forefront of importance. A responsive website will adapt to the screen size, device and orientation of each user, creating an optimal UX for desktops, tablets and smartphones. A responsive website does not represent a new technology, rather it represents a new approach to existing technologies. A responsive website is built using a responsive framework, such as Bootstrap and Foundation.
To learn more Responsive Web Design check out our article What Is A Responsive Website?
Web Design Best Practice #7.
The speed of your website is an often overlooked but painfully undervalued quality of a great web design. How important is website speed to the overall success of your online presence? Pretty damn important. Consider that for every one-second delay in load time your website’s bounce rate – the rate at which someone visits your website and leaves after viewing just one page – increases by 15%. As a matter of statistics, if your website takes longer than 4 seconds to load you will lose half your visitors before they even finish downloading your home page! Consider also that more and more people use mobile devices as their preferred choice for exploring the web. With mobile web traffic we must factor in latency and bandwidth issues on mobile networks. By increasing you website speed by just one second you are creating a better user experience, higher engagement and increased customer satisfaction.
Website speed is important for all aspects of your website. Browsing multiple pages, making purchases, downloading documents – all of these add up to increased load time. Faster website speed leads to faster online experiences and quicker transactions, leading to higher conversions and happy customers that will tell their friends about you.
To learn more about the factors involved in website speed check out our article How To Increase Website Speed For WordPress.
Website Best Practice #8.
The influence of social media is undeniable. Everyone uses social media to some extent, including your customers or donors. Using social media to promote your business or organization is smart business. Adding icons at the bottom of the page that link to your social media sites is not enough. You need to learn how to take full advantage of social media, which takes just a few simple steps.
Most small businesses and nonprofit organizations do not have staff resources dedicated to creating content on social media, so these pages tend to get ignored as the burden can feel overwhelming to busy people. We have a process that is both highly effective and time-friendly. We try to create at least 5 new blog articles each week. This is the hard part as we have to identify relevant and unique focus keyphrases and then craft an article around them. Once the article is complete, we publish it to our website using the WordPress admin. Once this is done, we open up all the social media links at the bottom of our page, which takes us to our official page for each platform. This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google My Business. Sometimes, we boost a post on Facebook by running the article as a paid ad. This process takes about 5 minutes to complete and keeps our social media fresh with daily user-rich content updates. Social media provides credibility to a website and a way for customers to interact using platforms they are familiar with.
Website Best Practice #9.
If you’re running a business today, having a website for your company is absolutely essential. Regardless of your industry or sector, having a well-designed online presence is one of the best ways to extend your reach and to increase your customer base. However, even though websites are a necessity these days, they aren’t as easy to set up as you might think. In fact, they raise a number of ways in which you and your business can fall foul of regulations. For example, have you heard of ADA Title III compliance? If not, it’s time to find out more about the importance of having an ADA-Compliant website now and to learn how you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself so that you can avoid a potential lawsuit.
The issue of compliance has become a major discussion in 2020. The world wide web has evolved to the point that it must meet or exceed many of the laws and regulations we experience in the real world. This includes accessibility. To learn more ADA-compliance check out our article ADA-Compliant Website: Why Is It Important?
Website Best Practice #10.
What is the point of having a great web design if no one knows it exists? This brings up the subject of visibility as our final principle of great web design. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is aimed at increasing your website’s visibility. SEO requires patience and expertise to be successful and the marketplace is flooded with so called Black Hat charlatans that can actually do more harm than good. Every successful SEO campaign begins with a technical review of your website to identify problems that will need to be corrected before your SEO campaign can truly begin. All the SEO strategies in existence will not be successful until you have a website that is properly search engine-friendly. Without proper SEO you will not have a great web design.
Check out our article Looking To Hire A SEO Expert? What You Need To Know.
D E E P B L U E Knows the Market
D E E P B L U E is a San Francisco web designer that delivers measurable results. Learn more about our web design services and contact us to schedule a complimentary needs-assessment consultation.
When it comes to these hot new trends, the team here at D E E P B L U E is ready and willing to use them when designing your site. In fact, many of the new trends follow the work we have completed, making us proud web design trendsetters. If you want to get your hands on a site that is innovative and designed beautifully then give us a call, we’d love to work with you.