As the old saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”, especially with regards to web design. While technology, programming, hardware, software, and graphic techniques may change, good design does not. Think I’m wrong? Well, companies like Google and Apple happen to agree! With that said, here are my 10 top web design tips I recommend, now and always:
#1. Design With Faster Load Times in Mind:
There is nothing worse than web pages and blogs that hang when you try to load them. While newer technology helps to reduce and relieve some of these issues, it really boils down to the web designer and how they manage their graphics and content.
Unlike print, web images should be sized and reduced to smaller file sizes, to ensure proper load times. If you are unsure about how to accomplish this, there are countless online guides on image management and proper image compression on Google and other engines that can assist you.
#2. Proper Use of Images Is Key:
There’s nothing worse than “image pollution” on a website! No one wants to be bombarded with gazillions of images, especially if they’re badly designed, not relevant to your site’s content. There are countless tutorials on proper image design and usage online. Content management systems like WordPress also offer design and imagery assistance.
#3. Keep Your Web Page Text Shorter Instead of Longer:
In today’s world, people don’t read anymore! They “scan”… they “browse”… they “screen.” Then they move onto something new. You have about 20 seconds to grab someone’s attention on a website, so keep your text short! If you have a lot of content you must convey, try breaking it up over multiple pages or posts, which will reduce the monotony a bit. Remember, everyone’s brain is on “information overload” these days! Ease up on the verbiage and keep your sentences short whenever possible.
#4. Good Navigation Is Crucial:
I’ve been designing and developing websites for many years. It was true from day one when I started back in 1995. It’s true today and will be true tomorrow. If your site navigation sucks and people can’t find what they’re looking for, they leave unlikely to return. Make sure all your web and blog pages are labeled legibly and are easy to find. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a site? People will leave if they can’t find what they want.
#5 Make Sure Your Content is Relevant to Your Website:
If you are widget maker, it’s best to stick to the topic of making widgets. Going off on other tangents rarely bodes well with web viewers and it’s a bad business move for you. Unless there is a specific reason to wander or stray into other non-related topics, don’t do it. It’s annoying and web users will leave frustrated.
#6 Don’t Overuse Flash and Animated Images:
If I had a dime for every debate I’ve had with people over this issue, I’d be the wealthiest man on earth! Unless your website must use animation to relay a specific graphic message to your viewers, ease up on it! A tastefully done image slideshow featuring beautiful photography or images is fine. But most online viewers are at their wit’s end with endless crazy animations and blinking, flying images blasting all over web pages. This is especially critical if you use an ad monetization program like Google AdSense. Don’t overdo it with the paid ads because it’s annoying. If you don’t have to use heavy animation DON’T. You may save a life in the process!
#7 Proper Design & Color:
Your website is global, whether you want it to be or not. Unlike the old days, websites are catered to the world and expected to be more graphically and technically sophisticated. You don’t have to be a highly trained graphic artist to know what looks good and what doesn’t. Content management systems like WordPress offer a wide array of templates that are well designed and graphically pleasing. If you want a really great looking website without the desire (or budget) to hand design something, WordPress can be a huge help.
#8 Don’t “O.D” On Too Many Fonts:
Some designers will argue that “font diversity” is important for a great design. I disagree. Keep it simple and consistent. Use fonts that read well on computer screens. Stick to your online staples such as Arial, Helvetica, and your sans-serif family of fonts, which are easier to read and work with.
#9 Test Your Work:
One of my biggest pet-peeves is programmers and designers that don’t test their work! Yes, it’s tedious but very necessary. Make sure to test your website in multiple browsers and computer configurations (i.e. PC, Mac, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, I.E. etc). Nearly every computer or device is different, and it can be really shocking to see how your site changes in different configurations. You may not be able to please all the people all the time, but do your best to reach out to as many as possible by beta testing what you’ve created.
#10 Mistakes and Typos are Killers:
Make sure to proof and correct all of your website content. This means all text, images, links and everything in between. It can be virtually impossible to proof your own work, so ask a friend or hire a proofreader to help you. Doing this means you care about your viewers and they will take your business more seriously. Well written content “legitimizes” your website.