The Ingredients for Good Web Design

Good Web Design Isn't a Website Tonight Approach

As much as we would like to believe a good web design can be created overnight, it just isn’t true. Sorry Godaddy. An effective website is a combination of skill, research and hard work. A well established web designer or design firm keeps up with current design trends, usability factors, and the latest in search engine optimization. This working knowledge is then applied to each project. Since each client is unique, applying these different factors and trends to suit the needs of of the client’s online presence is important.

A very important thing to keep in mind is: A web designer that cares about their clients doesn’t create websites to please their clients. They create a website to make their client’s clients happy. If a website is easy for your clients to use, and converts visitors into cold hard cash, that designer did their job.

So what makes good web design?

Here are the top 6 things we think make a website design great. We consider each one of these in every project we do.

1. Site Purpose

I can’t tell you how many times a client has come to us and said “I’m going to stay out of the way, you’re the expert”. When we present the initial design, they rebut with 5 different changes that have somehow become paramount to their online presence. This is normally crap. Most clients don’t know what their website’s purpose is. They know they want visitors to find out about their business, but there isn’t really any clear direction as to how the web design itself should be created. Some sites sell products, others simply display information.

One thing is certain for all of them – the website must convert visitors into prospects. I don’t mean prospects in the sense that they are going to buy a product tomorrow, or even next year for that matter. What I mean is they serve a purpose in the bigger picture of your online presence. They might tell others about your business, share your site or content through social media, buy a product, or even sign up for your newsletter.

A good web design company will first identify the purpose of the site, and then come up with several different on-site methods to make the most out of every visitor.

2. Navigation

How many sites have you visited that have a table of contents for a navigation? You click services and 15 different drop downs appear. When you decide to click on one, there is a small paragraph of text that hardly warranted a page in the first place. Your website’s navigation can either really help your website, or hurt it. If people can easily flow through your site without scratching their head in confusion, then your time on site and engagement goes up. If you give them 20 different selection options to choose from in your navigation, they will likely leave. The idea is that the site’s navigation be concise and simplified. The main pages should exist, and nothing more. If you offer services, then Services would be the main navigation link. If you have two types of services that each have their own subset… then the two types would be dropdown options, while the subset services would exist within the pages themselves. This gets people to the right place quicker. Good web design starts with navigation.

A good web design company will first identify the purpose of the site, and then come up with several different on-site methods to make the most out of every visitor.

3. Ready for mobile (responsive)

We all love pinching and dragging a website on our phone…right? WRONG! No one likes arriving at a page where the text is microscopic, until you double click to make it legible. Only then you also have to drag the site around to read things fully. This is NOT good web design. This is a failure.

Today we are accessing the web via mobile devices more and more. Good web design doesn’t just stop at the computer, it goes mobile as well. As a matter of fact, a large portion of your site visits right now probably came from someone on a smartphone or tablet. Make sure they have something good to look at and easy to navigate.

4. Website load time

Load time is an important factor in good web design. It increases engagement from visitors, makes search rankings better, and is just plain great. The typical user will be on your website for 3.2 seconds before they decide to go elsewhere. If your site catches their attention or they find what they are looking for early on… they will stay. If you just can't live without the collage of photos on your homepage that result in a 10 second load time… I hope the photos were magazine cover worthy. People will not stick around if your site is slow loading. Many sites today load extremely fast, so when someone arrives at one that loads at mach-turtle… they simply click the back button.

There are a number of ways to decrease the load time of your website and make it faster.

5. Fonts

Not long ago, we had a client that wanted that uber creative site complete with cursive handwritten font. While this is ok in some cases, it certainly isn’t ok to have entire paragraphs of handwritten fonts. This isn’t the 1800’s. This is the internet. A good rule of thumb is dark text on light background or light text on dark background. Keep your font sizes around 14-16px for paragraph text and make sure your headings are clear and visible. If no one can read your site, then this means your good web design idea has gone right out the window.

6. Images

Oh boy, this is a big one. A good web design can be broken entirely by a horrible selection of site images. If it looks really stock to you… don’t put it on your site. Your images should truthfully represent your company. They should be professional and fit the space assigned. Don’t choose a vertical image if the space where the image will reside is more horizontal in shape.

Also remember that images for a website should be saved at 72 dpi. A camera will automatically save your images at 300 dpi and somewhere around 3000px wide. This is about 10,000 times larger than it needs to be on the website. Make sure you take care of cropping and sizing in advance.

Conclusion

Before starting your new website project or working with an affordable web design company, think about these 6 points above. Understanding what makes good web design will put you a step ahead of your competitors and help you save money during the web design process.

 

Good luck with your website. Let us know how we can help you kick-ass online!

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