Website design, like a lot of other things, changes over time. What was important in 2019 may not be important in 2020. What was a best practice in 1996 is certainly not a best practice in 2019. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t website design principles that are practical and eternal.
Here are five website design principles you should never abandon:
- Put your users first – A website is for visitors, potential customers, people who browse the Web. Don’t build a website for the search engines. They don’t buy anything. Don’t build it for yourself. That’s narcissistic. If you are trying to conduct business online and you are ready to build a website that promotes your business and entices customers to do business with you, then your first priority should be to build a website that attracts the kind of people you want to do business with and communicates in such a way that they are motivated to do business with you.
- Get it ranked – While your first priority is to build a website for people, you should be aware of best practices. Write your content so that it ranks well for your keywords, but you also want to make sure your Web design is optimized.
- Make it navigable – Nothing is more sinful than having a beautiful website that people can’t navigate because there is too much clutter or it isn’t organized well. And the sad part is, it’s fairly easy to make a website with an easy-to-use navigation system.
- Make your content shine – It’s not enough to target your website’s content toward the right audience. You also want that content to keep your audience engaged. That means writing engaging content. Not only does the content keep your audience engaged (or not), but the website design itself can drive visitors away. Do what it takes to keep your visitors engaged.
- Use colors judiciously – Colors matter. Don’t just pick random colors. Select colors for your website that communicate a message. As a leading web design company in Aberdeen once told me, if you want to communicate power, red is a great color. If you want something cool, blue is more appropriate. Choose colors that reflect your brand and the image you want to convey, but you should also pick colors that attract eyeballs rather than repel them.
- Branding Elements – Design is an obvious one. Not only should your website be attractive, but it should contain design elements that reflect your brand. That goes all the way down to color scheme as much as the graphic presentation.
- Search Engine Optimization – Many new web designers don’t even think about optimization. They are concerned about beautification to the point that optimization isn’t even an afterthought. But it’s every bit as important as making your website attractive or branding yourself with a marketing tool. Your website will either rank in the search engines or it won’t, and it will rank based on how well you optimize the content, the design elements, and even it’s functionality and navigational elements.
- Functionality – A dysfunctional website can be a business killer. Your website may be beautiful and have top search engine rankings, but if your users show up and forms don’t work or video presentations get hung up, then they will leave. They won’t be back.
- Navigational Organization – Your website’s navigation is also important. Visitors want to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Make it easy for them and they will continue to use your website. If you want lessons in navigational infrastructure, check out Amazon.com and Wikipedia. Both do an excellent job.
- Clean Coding Practices – Your website code is an under-the-hood problem you don’t want to have. Too much code results in glut that can kill search engine rankings. Too little can mean a shoddy design or functionality issues. Make sure you are using best coding practices.