And Why Shouldn’t I Hire My 14 Year Old Nephew To Do It For Me?
When you hear the term “Web Design”, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? You’re probably thinking about attractive colors, a cool logo, and maybe some snazzy social media icons. It’s all about making a website look good, right? In actuality, web design is much more than the right color palette and nifty photoshop skills.
To effectively design a website, you need to consider site structure, technology, usability, functionality, conversion, and compatibility with browsers and search engines, as well as the way the site looks. The real issue with the misconception of the term “web design” is that we automatically attribute the word “design” to art. What you are really doing when you build a website is design (the visual aspects) and development (everything else). Responsive WordPress design Lansing allows your site to work flawlessly on all devices.
Design Does Matter
Before we dive into all the nuts and bolts involved in a website build, I must stress that design is very important. The way your website looks can have a direct affect on how well it converts site users into potential customers. You need to present the right image, whether that be corporate, professional, boutique or relaxed. Coming across the wrong way to your site users can damage any future relationship with them. Colors have subliminal affects on our brains, and so does layout. I will save the details on this topic for another article, but it’s important to remember that a good website is the result of a multitude of elements done right, including design.
Choosing The Right Technologies
We will skip the really techy talk here, I don’t want this to read like a textbook. While it won’t have a huge impact on the user experience, the type of programming language that you choose will dictate what you can and can’t do with your website, and who will be able to work on it. While all of the programming languages out there have their own pros and cons, it is important to choose something that will expand and grow with your site, and that is widely supported so you aren’t locked into something proprietary. Your web design team will have an influence in this choice, but it’s always wise to educate yourself.
Another consideration for technology is choosing a platform to build your site on. Content Management Systems (CMS) are very popular, and extremely useful in managing your website. We don’t recommend you build a site without one. Choosing the right platform is important, both from the usability of the admin side and the way it affects the user side. WordPress is always a fantastic platform, unless you are building a large ecommerce or social networking site.
The last, and argueably most important consideration is the WAY the code is used. Poorly coded websites can cause some serious performance issues, such as slowly loading pages, incompatibly with multiple browsers, and a lack of support as technologies advance. This can result in a poor user experience and difficulties with search engine optimization. Search engines tend to favor faster loading websites, so this can affect your SEO rankings.
If They Can’t Use It, They Won’t
Usability needs to be a top priority when building a website. If a site visitor can’t figure out how to do what they want or need to do on your site in about 4 seconds, they will hit the infamous back button, and they’re gone forever. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to try and re-invent the wheel. “Let’s put the navigation menu over here on the right, our site will be unique and cutting edge!” Good idea, and while you’re at it, put the front door to your bakery in the back alley and see how many marbled rye loaves you sell.
Ok, that was a bit harsh, but the idea is that you don’t want people to have to learn how to use your website. You want them to already know how to use it based on their experience using hundreds of other sites that follow good usability practices. Sure, your unique website might stick out from all the others, but trust me, you don’t want to end up on someone’s top 10 list for the worst website designs.
Make It Easy To Navigate
Navigating your website shouldn’t require a degree. It shouldn’t require a manual, in fact, it shouldn’t require much use of brain synapses at all. Finding the content that your users want to find, and more importantly, the content that you want them to find, should be the easiest thing to do on your website. We can assume your site user’s are there for a reason; get in their way, and they will be gone before you can even track them in Analytics. The navigation should be easy to use, and be structured in a way that makes sense.
Help! I Can’t Read This!
FACT: people do not read the text on a web site. Ok, that’s not entirely true, but website users read by scanning. Who has the time to read through all the text on a single web page, let only the entire site? (Of course, you’re readying every word of THIS web page, right?) Your content needs to be laid out and designed in a way that makes scanning easy. When your website visitor finds that headline that catches their attention, they will stop to read your content.
The Key To An Effective Website Design Is Functionality
Why is functionality so important? Because your website needs to DO something for you, and for your site users. Whether it be gathering a new lead, obtaining a newsletter subscription, or selling a product, your website needs to be an integral part of generate business. For your site users, reaping some sort of reward for visiting and exploring your site should be the ultimate outcome. This reward could be a free download, valuable information, or the ability to buy something. Whatever the end goal, a beautiful website won’t do much good if it’s not giving something to your site visitors and generate new business for you.