Website design, flat vs. gradient, mobile-ready, search-friendly – the list is endless when it comes to building a modern and professional website or revamping an existing one. Spend a few minutes browsing online, and you’ll quickly see how easy it is to have a bad-looking website, making this task seem quite daunting.
Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to make a great website.
The first step is to understand what you want to accomplish. Whether you want to promote and sell your products and services, make a resume website or any other reason, the goal of your site can help you understand what kind of design you want to start building.
Next is to understand the key elements of your website and how to use them. These consist of:
Create a Place to Call Home
Your homepage is arguably the single most important page on your website. It’s also, more often than not, the first page visitors see. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, users often leave a website after 10-20 seconds. You can find plenty of similar statistics, however one thing that can be agreed is that a visitor doesn’t stay for very long.
You have a few seconds to make a lasting impression. Therefore, your homepage should convey clearly and precisely what it is you are offering a visitor as well as an incentive to browse other pages on your website.
It’s Gotta Make Sense
However many pages you decide to include on your website, make sure that it makes sense. Use short and clear words or phrases for your navigation links; making sure that the title clearly indicates exactly what the page will convey (e.g. About, Store, Contact). You can always have subpages for optimized navigation if you want to target more specific visitors.
Once you’ve decided on your pages and navigation menu, be sure that your navigation doesn’t change from page to page, but rather stays consistent across each page of your site. This will make it easier for users to browse your content. If you want to take your page construction a step further, consider planning your site with Search Engine Optimization in mind.
Lay it on the Line
Now that you have an understanding of what pages you want, you can start implementing visuals. Try to prepare all the assets (e.g. images, videos, pdfs, etc.) that you would like to add to your site beforehand.
When planning your page layout bear in mind that you want each page to be quick to load, easy to read and have a clear call to action (CTA). Smaller images and files tend to load faster. You don’t want your visitors to spend 5 of their 10 browsing seconds to wait for the page to load.
Also, be careful when choosing your font styles, color and sizes and steer clear of all-caps text for easier reading. KISSmetrics has a great post on eye tracking studies that can help you understand where site visitors tend to look and where you should be placing your CTAs.
Remember, no matter how cool an image or great a color or fancy a font, the main goal should be for the visitor to read what you’ve got to say. Make it effortless for a visitor to understand your message.
Say What You Mean
Content is a critical part of any website. People want to know what you have to say. After all, they made the effort to click through to your site. Don’t disappoint with an unclear message. There’s a certain psychology behind good website content that can help you target your audience more appropriately and help you adopt your natural rhythm and tone.
Remember your website visitors have come to you for answers; make it worth their time – even if it’s only 10 seconds.
Image via Shutterstock
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