Nowadays, there's no construction contract required to build a business. Gone are the days of utility bills and in-person handshakes. Instead, countless people around the globe have shifted to a digital presence where handshakes are replaced by video conferences and glass-front shops are replaced by spectacular company websites.
So, if your shopfront can successfully be replaced by a website, what makes a good website? Well, there are a number of elements of design that will invite people to step through your virtual doorway. It starts with a clean presentation and ends with quite a bit of backend work to keep things running quickly and smoothly.
Together, we're going to discuss seven integral web design principles that will help you usher your business or organisation down a pathway to success. When all is said and done, if you feel you still need a little nudge in the right direction, we're here for you. But, in the meantime, here are a few building blocks to set you on your way.
1. A Clean Menu Bar
How can we begin without a brief discussion on the roadmap to your website? In a moment we're going to talk about the sweetness of short content. But, first, let's discuss a short and sweet menu bar.
You'll want to limit the number of items on your website's menu bar. Opt for three to five items, over eight to ten. Also, be sure to use short, concise names for each of your menu items.
If you're wondering how to list the multiple pages within your site, then feel free to use drop-down menus within your main categories. This won't limit you from linking to important pages, but it will keep the readability and scanability of your menu bar to a beautiful balance.
2. Sensational SEO
We can't go any further without diving into a conversation on search engine optimisation (SEO). What if you create the Picasso of all websites, but never see a single click on your site? It's likely, then, that your SEO isn't up to par.
While there are a number of crucial SEO elements, there are two important factors you can address almost immediately as you begin to design a website:
- internal and external links
Keywords are, essentially, what people are typing into Google to learn more about your area of expertise. So, if you're starting a speech pathology practice that's focused on pediatric treatment, it's important to know what people are typing into Google.
Is it simply "speech pathologist"? Or, is it "pediatric speech pathologist?" Maybe it's "speech pathologist for my child". There are plenty of free keyword research tools out there. Once you hone in on the primary keyword that pertains to your business, you want to place that keyword in a few important places:
Internal and External Links
Within the various pages of your site, you'll need to link to other internal pages. For example, in your "About Us" page, you might link to your "Portfolio" page or your blog. So, internal links are almost par for the course (and should never be overstuffed).
Meanwhile, external links tend to pertain more to blog articles, but they're still an important component. As you write an article on the benefits of speech pathology, you'll want to include a few external links to authoritative sites that support your claims.
All in all, your link-building profile will be an important signal to Google and other search engines that your website is credible and authoritative. Be sure to weave these in authentically throughout your well-planned content.
3. King-Sized Content
Whether you're starting a fitness blog, a welding business, or a petting zoo, one thing remains the same: content trumps everything else. Not only does what you say matter, but the manner in which you write is also paramount.
That is, short, simple sentences are king. Getting straight to the point is essential. And putting a spotlight on your personality is tantamount to success.
Communicate the benefits of your product or service in a simple, upbeat manner. Opt for short, staccato sentences, over lengthy, Shakespearean prose. Also, be sure to avoid large chunks of text - at all costs. Opt for two to three-sentence paragraphs over the traditional five-line paragraph.
4. Mobile Compatibility
In 2015, Google began showing favouritism to websites that were optimised for mobile. So, as you design your site, make sure each page scales to display content on small screens, too.
You can check this through one of Google's (many) tools, the Mobile-Friendly Test. It'll tell you if your site passes or fails. If you fail, there could be a number of different things going on.
You may need to compress your images. Or, perhaps your sidebars are making your text unreadable. Also, if you're using Flash, you're almost guaranteed to run into mobile issues.
5. Engaging Imagery
You'll probably agree that we tend to remember images more readily than words. While it's true you're going to spend a lot of time choosing the right words for your web copy, don't forget to spend a little time image sourcing.
Stock images are starting to become more and more recognisable, even to the untrained eye. So, if it's possible to take your own photos and clean them up in Photoshop, that's a lovely alternative.
Otherwise, there are several sites out there that offer bespoke, artistic stock photos. One of our favourites is Unsplash which showcases photographers' work, free for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
6. Clear Typography
Sans serif fonts are a family of typefaces that don't use "serifs," or little lines at the end of the characters. These are easy on the eyes and highly preferable for web design. Rely on the tried and true sans-serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, and Geneva.
And, even though you're sticking to sans serif fonts, don't be afraid to mix and match your formatting. Headlines are typically written in H2 format, while body text remains in paragraph form.
7. High Contrast
If you've ever posted a picture to Instagram, you've probably played around with contrast. While, generally speaking, it means drawing out the colour in a picture to make the pinks pinker and the greens greener, it also means drawing out the differentiation.
On a website, this is a powerful, yet simple, concept that draws distinguishing lines between three key elements of the web page: the header, the content area, and the footer. With colourful contrast, you can easily point visitors in the right direction with appealing pops of vibrancy.
What Makes a Good Website?
So, what makes a good website? You do! The amount of time, effort, attention, and heart that you pour into your website will markedly distinguish it from any other competitor in your area of expertise.
Even still, if you're having trouble taking your company site from drab to fab, your friends here at Lift Strategies can help you not only showcase your business but also create measurable results that deliver on your investment. While every industry and business is unique, a solid digital strategy is still tantamount to success.
Together, we can grow your business with a conversion-focused website. You can have all the right bells and whistles, and even a little pep in your SEO step but, without the right amount of traffic, it could all be for naught. We'll help you prevent the naught.
Feel free to reach out to us today for a free discovery session. We'll be happy to chat with you about your business, services and goals, and help you scale your business to heights you never knew were imaginable.