When it comes to building a website, there is plenty of planning that happens before the build. Your website is one of the most important tools for a business, whether it be informational or a sales platform. If you are planning to build a website, looking at doing a website redesign, or just want to make some edits to your website then this blog is perfect for you.
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What makes a good website?
Like many other aspects of your business, you need to take the time to plan the structure and design of a website. Your site needs to be consistent in its design, this includes typography, imagery and colours used. Your website needs to reflect the business and ultimately the brand.
Before you begin to design or redesign your website, think about websites you like to use yourself. What aspects of the website do you like? While each of us will have a different idea of what makes a perfect website in terms of certain aesthetics, I’m sure we can all agree on several things:
- The site is easy to navigate
- The site loads quite quickly
- The site answers the question to the search query
Your website needs to have a purpose. These reasons could include: an informational blog to convey your knowledge, an eCommerce store to sell your products and services or even a portfolio website that showcases goods and services, it can even include links to purchase from a third party. We have an informative blog article on some of the different types of websites which can help you decide what you want to use your website for, but ultimately your website needs to satisfy the needs of your customers.
When you are designing your website, you need to concentrate on usability. The following 10 tips are ways to make your website great.
1. Create a clear site hierarchy
To ensure your site runs well, you should create a site map with a hierarchy structure. Starting at the very top, you need your “home page.” The next level could include things such as “about us,” “services,” and “blog.” The next level could be offshoots of the above suggested so “about us” could contain “locations,” or services could cover a list of services you offer; so, we offer several services such as “social media marketing,” “SEO,” “website design” to name but a few.
Image Credit – LOCALiQ
2. Create a library of assets for the website’s design
Good imagery has the potential to grab a user’s attention as well as trigger emotional responses. You should ensure you use high-quality images across your site. If you want some free images, then websites like Pexels are a good place to start. If you’re locating images via other methods, then you should always check the image license first.
The next thing you want to consider is colour. What colours do you already have in your logo, and can they be incorporated on the website? You can also include other forms of media on your site including video and audio, just make sure that they are not blurred, and that compression does not interfere with the load time. And leading onto the next area of website design, images and videos are great for SEO.
Remember that you do not want your design cluttered. Not only will this increase page load time but it’s likely that people will quickly lose interest, creating a spike in bounce rate.
When it comes to design, white space is your friend. It gives your eyes somewhere to rest. Think of it like reading this blog, there are lots of paragraphs allowing your eyes to have a break between each one. Imagine how cluttered it would look if we had no spacing and paragraphs!
3. Understanding basic SEO
You should take the time to understand the basics of SEO. This will be pivotal in your website to ensure that pages are optimised. Here are a few of the basic SEO skills you should be undertaking:
- Use meta titles and descriptions for every page. Your title should be a maximum of 60 characters and your meta description a maximum of 160 characters.
- Use ALT tags on all images. This is not just for SEO, but for accessibility. ALT tags let a user know what an image contains if they are visually impaired.
- Use keywords in your titles, content, and links. You should understand what keywords you are targeting so use them on your page. You don’t want to stuff the work full of keywords, so ensure that they are naturally appearing.
4. Ensure accessibility across your website
A website cannot be genuinely great if someone cannot use it. Consider these statistics from We Are Purple, approximately 1 in 5 people have a disability and the spending power of disabled people and their households was £274bn in 2020. Furthermore, 73% of disabled people said that they experienced barriers on more than a quarter of all websites that they visited and to add to that, 75% of disabled people have turned away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service. That is a huge amount of money that a business could lose because its website is not accessible to disabled people. Consider the following for appropriate accessible design:
- Colour contrast is on all text, images, and buttons. W3 explains more about colour contrast in this video.
- Text size – Minimum 14pt text.
- ALT text – allows a visually impaired person to know what an image contains.
- Screen reader usability – Make sure your text is not in all caps. A screen reader may not be able to read the words correctly and could read each letter individually.
- Can your site be navigated without a mouse? – Some users cannot use a mouse and would use the keyboard. When navigating with a keyboard, you need to ensure that the elements follow a logical process.
5. Have a clear call to action
What is it you want someone to do when they come to your website? Include simple actions on each page that can help grow your business and guide a user. Simple call-to-action buttons or forms to fill in are just two examples of things you can include. Your call to action can be on a static page, or you could even include a pop-up with a time-sensitive offer. The key thing with any call-to-action is that you want the process to be simple as well as offer a benefit to the user and if possible, require as little personal information as possible. We have an entire blog dedicated to pop-ups and their usefulness.
6. Site speed optimisation
A 2019 survey found that nearly 70% of people said that a slow load time impacts their willingness to purchase from that business. You should aim for your website to have between 0-4 seconds load time and ideally 0-2 seconds. There are several things you can do to improve site speed:
- Use an image compressor to ensure images files are smaller.
- Reduce the number of plug-ins your website has.
- Use Google PageSpeed to perform a speed test and then follow through on the recommendations it gives you.
7. Ensure your website has a mobile-friendly design
Mobile-friendly design means that any aspect of your website is easily accessible across all platforms; laptops, desktops, and smaller screens such as tablets and mobile phones. Google expects your website to be optimised for mobile these days. It will penalise your website if it is not mobile-optimised. If you are using some of the site builder websites, then this should already be included although you may need to move a few building blocks around to ensure the webpage looks good.
8. Ensure your website has a good site navigation
Your website needs to be easy to navigate. This includes using appropriate headers, and a breadcrumb trail to be able to go back a page if needs be. Your header menu on the top of the page should include the important headers in your site structure. Remember to include a search function too!
9. Regularly check for page errors
We have all had the dreaded 404 error when searching for something online. You can use Google Search Console to find your 404 errors. You can also build a custom 404 error page which can help your customer get back to the navigation. Ensure that there are no incorrectly typed URLs that are creating the 404, and if possible, create redirects to related content.
10. Ensure your contact information and location are visible
Nobody will want to spend ages looking for something, if a user can’t find what they are looking for, they will leave. Ensure that on your site, your contact and business locations are visible. If you have multiple locations, it’s a good idea to create a separate page for each location, making it easier for customers to go straight to the information that’s relevant to them.
Key takeaways on good website design
When someone comes to your website, they don’t want to spend ages looking for how to do something. Stick with a simplistic design that is on-brand and easy to use. This relates to user experience (UX) and design principles. Consider how easy it is to navigate your site. Does it have a search bar and is that functionality working properly?
By working to ensure you fix these issues on your site, you are minimising the risk of a customer going to a competitor for goods and services.
If you’re looking for further assistance with website design or maintenance, then our team of experts will be happy to talk you through our website services.