You are here: Home » Blog » Web Design & Conversion » Key Aspects of Good Web Design

Key Aspects of Good Web Design

in Web Design & Conversion

Despite the fact that the internet has been around for over a decade there are still far too many poorly designed websites still in existence. And not just DIY web sites – some big brands make fundamental usability errors.

There are some ground rules that all web businesses should follow:

Where Users Click:

To fully understand how to create a website that works you need to know where people are clicking. Look at the heat map for web pages in your analytics package to see what links users are clicking the most.

Your website content should then be adjusted to reflect the results – place the most important content and links where people are most likely to see them and similarly expand and improve the content which people are viewing the most.

General Website Tips:

Get the colours right, both for branding and readability. If you’re producing a web site based around providing valuable content stick to black text on a white background.

For branding choose colours that reflect the image and feel that you want your web site to portray. In general, blue is seen as authoritative, yellow as innovative, with red a tricky colour often best avoided as the primary colour of your site.

To choose colours that blend in well with each other the colour wheel is a helpful tool. Colours opposite each other work well together.

Avoid 100% flash web sites. Flash may look nice but it looks nice for developers rather than users. People are interested in being able to read what they want instantly, rather than having to wait for a clever flash-animated graphic to load.

It’s also important to note that search engines find it difficult read flash, so if search engine optimisation is a marketing channel that you’re planning to use steer clear of flash-only web sites.

Avoid flash introductions. Waiting for them to load is irritating for visitors, especially for those people who have visited the site before. Often a ‘skip now’ button is available to click on – this simply tells your visitors that the introduction is of no value to them. So why include something of no value in the first place?

Don’t have sound playing in the background. When people are surfing the internet they are either at work where any sound is disruptive (or the speakers are automatically turned off), or they are at home in which the TV, radio or music is playing in the background. Having sound suddenly appear on a web site that’s been loaded is just plain annoying.

One exception is music sites but as a golden rule – if you aren’t in the music industry don’t include music on your website.

Have a content management system. This doesn’t affect users directly but it will indirectly through being able to quickly and easily edit and add new content to your web site. It’ll also save you money – having to ask web developers to make small changes to your site all the time is costly, not to mention unnecessary hassle.

Clearly name links on your web site. People don’t like surprises – they like to know where they are being taken, so don’t have links that just say ‘click here’. Describe the link – using keyword-rich text will also help your search engine rankings.

Have a Site Map. People may not use site maps to navigate web pages but search engines do. Having one will help ensure that the search engines crawl and fully index your web pages.

The Home Page:

People are impatient and aren’t willing to wait ages for your site to load – the home page should take no longer than 4 seconds to load.

Don’t clutter your home page. If people become confused the research shows that they will simply leave your site rather than try to work out what it has to offer. Similarly, try to have most of the content on your home page above the fold – in other words, in the part of the web page viewable without having to scroll down.

Keep the navigation simple. As an example of what not to do take a look at Tampax’s web site – no one wants to have to turn their head to read the navigation links.

Secondly, never go for so-called Mystery Meat Navigation (MMN), as coined by usability expert Vincent Flanders, which tends to be particularly prevalent in Flash web sites.

MMN refers to websites where it’s especially difficult for users to work out where the navigational links are going to take them. If users aren’t sure where they’re going to end up they simply won’t click on the link.

Allow room for at least 50 words but more preferably 100 words on your home page if search engine optimisation is an important marketing channel for your web site.

Search engines regard the first 100 words on a web page as the most important for evaluating what the page is about and subsequently where to rank it for particular keywords. Therefore use this space to explain how you can help visitors to your site, whilst incorporating important keywords and keyword phrases.

Previous post:

Next post: