These days it’s easier than ever to create awesome websites. With a rise in online DIY website tools, making a website yourself has never been easier. But when you're going down this route, you’ll still want to follow good design principles.
Here are seven ideas to help keep your website looking professional.
1. Add contact information
If you’re offering a product or service, you’ll need to make it easy for your customers to interact with you. Include a toll-free phone number or an email address on your page footer. Alternatively, offer an easy to fill form so they can submit queries. Social networks play a significant role these days, so include these in your contact information. In certain cases people prefer to submit their queries via Facebook pages over websites.
2. Make navigation as easy as possible
Ensure that your visitors can find what they want quickly and easily. It’s traditional to include a navigation menu at the top or left of the page but if your site is large, consider offering a search box or site map as well.
3. Pay attention to the content as well as design
Be consistent by using the same visual theme on all of your pages. Base your text on one font-family and break up long paragraphs into smaller ones to enhance readability. If you want to change the background colour of your pages use a light, neutral colour rather than background images. Good grammar and spelling are essential. One of the simplest ways to avoid errors is to use plain, simple English. Getting someone else to proof read your work will identify the mistakes you can’t see!
4. Optimise your website for mobile devices
Many people use mobile devices as their primary means of viewing webpages. You don’t have to offer two versions of your website but you should also test your pages on smart phones and tablets. Sometimes you’ll need to redesign your navigation menus to work on smaller screens.
5. Use good quality and unique images
Images play an important role in the visual aesthetics of your website. The use of images should enhance the message you are trying to deliver so make sure they aren’t jagged and pixelated by viewing your page with different window sizes. Use optimised images to decrease page loading times. Ensure your website maintains a friendly, personal feel. Too many stock images can give your website the generic, impersonal feel of a corporate site.
6. Stay up to date with technology
7. Limit the distractions
Be very careful with the use of animation and sound. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. If you go overboard you won’t just distract your viewers, you’ll annoy them! Limit your use of advertisements. Yes, they generate income for you, but they can also be obnoxious – so much so that many people now use adblockers. Use a reputable company that offers unobtrusive ads. It’ll also help minimise the risk of infecting your visitors with malware.
Most of these suggestions are common sense, but it is amazing how often even these simple things are overlooked. Good design often takes several iterations to get right. Once you’ve found the winning design you’ll find your site easier to update and maintain.