How do you know if your website design is good? Well, for one thing, it should be helpful and valuable to its users. The site should also make sense from start to finish - literally, what does this page or section of the content lead to, or simply put, what’s the point?
And how do we expect visitors to get there after they visit certain areas of each page?
There are many steps involved when building successful websites, and I have outlined the steps below to give you an idea of what’s involved to make a successful design for your website.
- Brand & Consistency
A website's purpose should be clear from the start so it can guide you towards making a decision. It could be to create awareness, generate revenue or get more traffic to later convert into sales after visitors fill out contact forms with their information. All of these outcomes will depend what the business needs to help achieve its goals through clever web design!
The purpose may be to:
- Create awareness of a brand or a social/environmental problem
- Generate more revenue for the company
- Get more traffic to the website
- Convert more traffic into a sale where they complete a contact form or buy a product directly from the website
Identifying the type of personas or users you want to attract, will help the marketers to create better content and design better websites, as it will help focus on the user’s motivations, goals, frustrations, personality, bio, likes, and dislikes.
Industry & Competition
Getting a better understanding of the industry, in terms of digital growth, will give better insight.
Check out the competitors on a local, national and global level to see how they have handled their website design and content, that’s where you may get some inspiration to create something better and ideally different.
To make things a little easier a SWOT analysis should be carried out; SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
For example, if you are planning a new website design this is how the SWOT analysis may look:
The list can go on, but the whole point is to take on board what strengths the company already has, the weakness may be dealt with by outsourcing an agency or internal hire with the correct skillset, and opportunities may be something that can be applied during the project, or developed at a later date depending on the timeframe, and budget. Threats can get in the way of achieving long term success that may need consultation, and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) could be put in place to minimise threats.
The next step in planning a website is to create an outline document that defines the steps you will take. You should do research first, then estimate how long it may take and budget accordingly. After doing some initial prep work on website design, will make it much easier as there are clear instructions laid out, for what needs to be done and when!
You would not build a home without a construction plan? It’s the foundation of the project, which creates the process of the workflow with a time frame, equipment, skillset, budgeting and more. The same goes for the website design, which helps with the scope of the project and planning. You could attempt to build a home without a plan, but it’s likely that there will be some legal problems, poor structural design and features that are too late to build. The same goes for website design work.
In a website plan, we want to create an easy-to-follow, logical and structured user journey with clear navigation that can be achieved without any hassle thanks to the use of sitemaps.
The layout of the home page and services page will also give a much cleaner structure for the website. For example, you may want to follow a landing page structure, (check out our 10 landing page SEO tips), and of course, you may want to include search links, forms on the page and more content from the research gathering.
As part of the planning process, there should be a clear content plan. This ensures the correct content is in place for the website, such as copywriting, images, icons, illustrations and videos, which the website should have to represent the company properly.
The website may need booking forms, and this should be paid particular attention to, as they require a lot more work than simple contact forms, because they need a good user experience flow when users are asked to fill out the form. Decisions need to be made as to where they need to be placed on the website, and how they will be accessed.
Website Brand & Consistency
The website should have a colour palette for the colours it will use from the start, the colours will represent the brand, and it’s a good idea to get to know the colour physiology as it’s crucial for the buying decision.
You could use Colors to generate a colour palette, or if you have a colour in mind you can use Adobe colour palette generator.
Typography & Font
Of course, the typography and the font are part of the brand, it’s the font you’ll be using across the channels to communicate with your users, prospects and clients, the typography and font should be easy to read.
The typography should be easy to read and be used consistently with the same font and size reference for different headings and paragraphs. It’s also beneficial to load the fonts the website will need for the typography, as they can take time to load and slow down the website.
When companies build websites, they usually think about creating a logo as part of this process, which is separate from website design but is required for the website design, as it would be strange to see a website with no logo.
The website margins and paddings across the website should be the same to create a nice clean design. Keep in mind white spacing or negative space to create a website with a great user experience and a great user interface.
You may want to keep in mind to have specific borders for different boxes, or for sections, yet try to stick with the same border size, colours and radius as it will improve the consistency of the website look.
At VM Digital, we first work with the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) when moving the website from a static mockup to a dynamic website, this helps us to easily apply the CSS classes where we require on the website.
Website content is one of the most important factors in website design. Consideration should be given to new text, images and videos for sites that bring value to users while helping them understand what you're trying to say through your messaging.
Content helps with organic traffic, SERP’s, lead generation, brand awareness, and conversions.
You could have a poorly designed website but if you get your content right your business can be thriving with all the above. Of course, if you combine a pretty & well-structured website with good relevant content, you’ll get a better perception of the brand you are trying to represent.
Pretty websites with poor content have no unique value to visitors, and search engines will also notice and then won’t rank the website high enough..
You should consider not repeating the same text across your website, or worse, copy content from other websites, (which is kind of illegal), it should be unique on every page or you may get accused of plagiarism.
So once you have gathered all the content there are best practices to follow:
- Structured content, people usually scan through the website to find the information they are looking for rather than reading the full copy.
- Appropriate use of headings such as
- <h1>Your Heading</h1>
- <h2>Your Subtitle</h2>
- <p>Your paragraph text goes here</p>
- Be consistent with a good structure layout, more on it check out 10 landing page SEO tips, it makes your website more accessible for people and crawlers
- Name your images before uploading them and describe what the images are about in ALT text
- Resize your images to .jpg or .jpeg to have a smaller size of the image, which helps with UX and speed.
- Add titles to your videos
For the content, it’s also a good idea to plan schema markups that will help with SERP’s.
Your website will need to be accessible for your visitors where they have disabilities or using different devices to access your websites such as laptop, 40” screen, tablet or mobile.
You can check out Web Accessibility Perspective Videos that will help you to understand why it’s important to implement accessibility, you can actually make some people very frustrated, and it will have an impact on how they perceive your business.
Under the 2020 Regulations in Ireland, it makes it a legal requirement to make it accessible, or POUR, which falls under Perceivable, Operable, Understandable & Robust.
- Perceivable means the way information is presented, it needs to be perceivable by all users by not making it invisible to all of the senses.
- Operable means that the website needs to be functional and operable by users.
- Understandable means that the information present, can be understood by all visitors.
- Robust means that all the content should be accessible at all times, and taking into account that technology evolves, therefore the website should be up-to-date to continue its proper functionality.