Isn’t it frustrating that there are so many DIY web design tools in market, but so little advice on how to make it all work for you. The website is not just a nice screen with pretty photos and text. The website is the public image of you and your company, and it has to be self-explanatory and unique to show that it’s worth do business with you.
I have compiled basic principles that will help you to plan and create a website. In today’s complex world the website is an integral part of most Internet tools and applications; moreover, it has to work smoothly on all devices. Yeah, too many organizational and technical things to keep in mind, but it’s not that hard if you have some checklist!
1. Choose your domain name
Your domain name should be easy, short and relevant. It is a key for your users to find it in search engine, stick in their minds and easily access whenever they need it. If it is your personal site, go with your name and surname unless it is long or hard to spell. If it is your company site, use your brand name. For global market use “.com”, because it is the most common top-level domain, but you may use country-specific or interesting ones like “.me”, “.is” or “.ly”.
2. Know your peers
There is a balance between being unique and being recognized. You may shock your website visitors with something unconventional or crazy, but it might scare away your most conservative ones before even they learn about you. Explore your competitor websites. You will notice common elements in the industry: apply them, make them better and add your unique ones.
3. Website’s look and feel
Before you start designing, think of how your website feels and looks for a visitor. You may choose few adjectives that would describe your site best e.g. light, white, minimalistic, colorful, etc. Remember to reflect on these adjectives every time you make a decision about colors, fonts, layout and other important web design elements.
4. Organize your website
Your menu items will depend on the type of your website and the amount of information you have in each section. For an artist portfolio there could have sections, such as, About, Portfolio, Exhibitions, Bio and Contacts. A company site could have sections, such as, About, Products, Team, Shop, Contacts. Keep it simple and don’t confuse readers with massive menus and long descriptions.
5. Layouts and templates
After you know your site structure, you can choose layout and template that satisfies website’s feel and content’s structure. There is no winning layout or template. The main rule is that complexity of layout highly correlates with complexity of content. Don’t squeeze complex content in a simple layout or put simple content in a complex layout.
Combine ideas from websites you like and your thoughts how it should feel and look to decide on the background, menu and header colors. Few main tips are (1) use natural colors, (2) make a strong contrast between background and text, (3) select around 3 colors and use them throughout the entire website, and (4) take into account people with visual disabilities. You may find trendiest color palettes in Internet.
7. Photos and images
Many site owners place their promo images as the main focus of their sites. In these situations photos and images should not contradict or disappear in background or elements of the web design. If your focus is not visuals, but text and you do not have any photos, search for some relevant images in Internet with a high-resolution quality. Visuals convey message much better than plain text.
8. Mobile first
Responsive design is already a norm. Your web should look good on desktop, tablet and mobile. It’s worth to remember that most of the Internet surfing now happens in mobile. Your web design and text should show its best in the mobile view because it is the primary medium for visitors.
9. Web-friendly font
There are thousands of fonts to be chosen from. They should fit in the overall web design feel and at the same time serve needs of all devices and browsers. Since people have different fonts installed on their computers, it might be so that some stylish or rear fonts may look ordinary or even bad on some screens. Safe choice is one of the classic fonts, like Ariel, Verdana, Serif, Time New Romans, Courier. Check how your font looks on the most common browsers and operating systems to prevent your visitors from unexpected design “surprises”.
10. Content of your website
Put some main bullets of text after you make a menu of your website. Keep your text short – 2-3 sentences, because people do not like to read long texts. Integrate and remember keywords of each section to add in your SEO (search engine optimization tool). The tone of your text should fit your web design overall feel. Be positive, simple and clear!
11. Add buttons to social networks
Social networks work as a selling point of your website. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and some other is a must when you need to promote or sell your business on a daily basis. Link your website content with social networks and your social network content with the website to attract the most of traffic.
12. Google tools
Easiest part is to make a web design, but the hardest one is to promote it and bring stable and growing number of visitors in it. Provide regular, relevant and engaging content in social networks. Boost your sales, using Google Adwords and Facebook Ads Manager. Don’t forget to have a Google Analytics account to see channels your customers come from, what is their demographics and who are your loyal customers. This is another science to dig deeper, but some basic features might be very useful also for amateurs.
What is the main advice? Start doing. Questions and answers will pop-up themselves.
Author’s bio: Lauris works for Berta.me – an easy web design tool for personal portfolios, company pages and online shops.