As a business owner, you want to launch your website or redesign it quickly and effectively. No one wants to miss out on the opportunity to sell, but creating a website is more involved than simply getting products loaded in and your logo on the homepage.
Since people’s attention span is so short nowadays, it only takes 0.05 milliseconds for them to make a decision about your site. This is why web design matters.
You want the user experience to be simple and painless, and incorporating all of these elements will help customers and your business thrive. Let’s go over some of the best practices for web design.
1. Follow Branding Guidelines
When we say the name “Starbucks,” you probably have a mental image that comes up. Maybe it’s the green and white colors or the siren logo, but either way, your brain makes immediate associations to these elements of their brand.
You want your customers to do the same thing when they think of your business. That’s why it’s important to create your own brand guidelines and follow them when designing for your website.
Every page of your site should use the colors, images, font type, writing style, etc. you established in your style guide. By remaining consistent across all pages of your site, your brand will be recognizable.
2. Simplify Navigation
If you’ve ever been to a site and aren’t able to find what you’re looking for, you probably left and went somewhere else. You don’t want customers to have this experience with your website, which is why you should simplify and streamline your site’s navigation.
People want to easily find what they’re looking for and not have to think too hard about what they’re doing. The fewer clicks it takes to get a user to the product they want, the better. Here are a few tips for simple navigation:
- Use few top-level options in the menu
- Add a search bar near the top of the page
- Use breadcrumbs on every page
- Add navigation to the footer
3. Prioritize Accessibility
One of the most important best practices for web design is to keep accessibility in mind. You want to make sure your website is usable by everyone, including people who have limitations when it comes to browsing. Similar to requiring wheelchair accessibility at a brick-and-mortar business location, to be fully ADA compliant, your site must meet industry standards for accessibility.
The Web Accessibility Initiative and the World Wide Web Consortium developed a set of rules known as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). They include:
- Making visitors aware of content on your site
- Ensuring all content is understandable
- Creating functionality in a variety of ways
- Designing the site to be usable with assistive technology
- Choosing high contrast background and foreground colors
If you’re not sure your website is accessible, you can actually have it tested. The Web Accessibility Initiative has a list of tools you can use to check your accessibility level.
4. Prioritize SEO
Anyone who wants their site to grab those top spots in SERPs needs to incorporate SEO best practices in their web design. While there’s an almost endless list of optimization opportunities, here are some of the most important:
Use relevant keywords in your content. You can’t expect to rank in search engines without using keywords people are searching. Learn what terms your customers are using and incorporate them into the content throughout your site.
Optimize your site for responsive design. Most web traffic comes from mobile devices, but many people still use desktops, laptops, and tablets. Incorporate responsive design to accommodate customers looking at your site from all devices.
Create short, descriptive URLS. You don’t want your URLs to just be a string of numbers and letters. You want them to be easy to read for humans, and you should incorporate the page’s primary keywords for the benefit of search engines.
Write relevant title tags and meta descriptions. Search engines use title tags and meta descriptions to understand content on the page and index it. These show up on the SERPs when you search keywords in the engines.
Add alt text to all images. This short description of what is in a photo is placed into the HTML code so search engines know how to index the photo and the page it is on.
5. Track Page Speed
Tracking page speed is another important best practice for web design, and site speed is essential for user experience. If a website is too slow to load, people will abandon it and go somewhere else.
Yes, it is true that site speed is affected by web hosting plans, servers, and traffic. However, design elements can also slow your loading speed. Some of them include multiple typefaces, a library of images, and videos.
So how do you remedy site speed based on design choices? Here are a few examples:
- Make image files smaller
- Change image size based on browser size
- Reduce HTTP requests
- Minify and combine files
- Implement a content delivery network (CDN)
6. Create Clear CTAs
Calls to action (CTA) urge customers to do something on your web pages. This could be to sign up, subscribe, browse through products, etc.
Since you want your potential customers to take action, you want your CTAs to stand out. They should be big and bold. Use contrasting colors to make the button pop against the background image.
You should also consider the placement of your CTAs. Customers should be able to spot it within 3 seconds of visiting a web page.
7. Keep Mobile in Mind
While we briefly mentioned keeping responsive design in mind with your best practices for web design, it is imperative you keep mobile in mind when creating your site. Over 50% of organic search engine visits come from mobile users, and you want your website to be optimized for screens of all types.
You may need to remove or edit certain elements for mobile devices that you can keep for desktops. People interact with websites differently on various devices, and you should accommodate them. For a deeper understanding of how users are interacting with your website, you can install a tool like Hotjar or Crazy Egg to monitor use cases.
Incorporate these Best Practices for Web Design
The choices you make about how your website looks and functions is important. User experience is key to getting the sales you’re after, and if you follow these best practices for web design, you will impact your business for the better.
Do you need to make small changes to your current site, want a complete redesign, or build a completely new site? We can walk you through the process! Let us know how we can help you with your web design needs.